Rally Germany.

20 – 23 August 2015.

 

Red-hot coverage, exclusive background reports, interviews, the latest photos – simply everything on the 2015 Rally Germany. You are always up to date here.

Timetable

 

Note: All times in the timetable are given in CEST (as of: 07.08.2015).

 

Thursday, 20.08.2015

20:30   Ceremonial Start - Porta Nigra - Trier  

Friday, 21.08.2015

08:30 SS 1 Sauertal 1 14.84 km
09:43 SS 2 Waxweiler 1 16.40 km
11:05 SS 3 Moselland 1 23.24 km
11:50 SS 4 Mittelmosel 1 13.67 km
14:40 SS 5 Sauertal 2 14.84 km
15:53 SS 6 Waxweiler 2 16.40 km
17:15 SS 7 Moselland 2 23.24 km
18:00 SS 8 Mittelmosel 2 13.67 km

Saturday, 22.08.2015

07:34 SS 9 Grafschaft 1 18.35 km
09:02 SS 10 Bosenberg 1 17.13 km
10:32 SS 11 Arena Panzerplatte 1 2.87 km
10:45 SS 12 Arena Panzerplatte 2 2.87 km
11:05 SS 13 Panzerplatte Lang 1 45.61 km
15:31 SS 14 Grafschaft 2 18.35 km
17:06 SS 15 Arena Panzerplatte 3 2.87 km
17:26 SS 16 Panzerplatte Lang 2 45.61 km
18:47 SS 17 Bosenberg 2 17.13 km

Sunday, 23.08.2015

07:07 SS 18 Stein & Wein 1 19.59 km
08:11 SS 19 Dhrontal 1 14.08 km
10:31 SS 20 Stein & Wein 2 19.59 km
12:08 SS 21 Dhrontal 2 (Powerstage) 14.08 km

Sunday, 23.08.2015


Images Day 3 (18)


Final report

Score settled, one-two-three victory at home rally!

 

Volkswagen finished first, second and third. The perfect result at the ninth rally of the year. And at the home rally no less! No other manufacturer in the World Rally Championship has achieved that. What was not meant to be in recent years was achieved all the more impressively this year. With a one-two-three victory, Volkswagen settled the score that was left open after the two previous years.

 

Leading the way: World champion Sébastien Ogier, who is now well on the way to winning his third WRC title in a row with the Polo R WRC. At the rally around Trier he was once again the measure of all things. “What a relief,” said Seb Ogier after crossing the finish line. “The pressure was extremely noticeable all weekend. Everyone expected us to get the win. And we ended up in the top three spots. Massive thanks to the whole team!”

 

The win in Germany was the 30th WRC success in Ogier's career, seeing him draw level with the legendary Marcus Grönholm and move up into second place in the all-time rankings. Only fellow countryman Sébastien Loeb, with 78 wins, is more successful. Seb was at the top of the podium for Volkswagen for the 23rd time. His machine, the Polo R WRC, has got 30 of 35 possible rally wins to date. What a record!

 

Jari-Matti Latvala was unable to keep up with the pace of his French team-mate in Germany, and finished second. However, the Finn got the win on the closing Power Stage and picked up the coveted three bonus points. Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Polo R WRC drove a more inconspicuous rally, but did his bit to help Volkswagen achieve ultimate success at the home rally.

 

In three weeks the season continues Down Under. In Australia, Seb Ogier could defend his title before the end of the season. Twelve points would be enough. Which means that he doesn't even need to win the rally. But that is age-old number games. Australia is a totally different surface – or rather totally different gravel…..


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“This win is our way of saying thank you to the team."

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“I am absolutely delighted with this win! The fact that Julien and I are finally able to present our fantastic team with the long-awaited home win makes both of us extremely proud. Everyone in the team does so much to ensure that we drivers and co-drivers can challenge for victories. This win at the Rally Germany is our way of saying thank you – and it goes without saying that this success would not have been possible without that Volkswagen team spirit. Before the start of the rally, our team principal Jost Capito reminded us again of the promise we made to Chairman of the Board of Directors, Professor Winterkorn, at the final ceremony last year. We did not need any more motivation than that. On the final day, it was just a matter of managing the lead and brining the Polo home in one piece. Now we have finally done it, with a one-two-three. An incredibly emotional moment!”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“It is a great day for Volkswagen and the entire team! A one-two-three is obviously the right way to bounce back from the results of the past two years. Everyone coped well with the pressure and worked hard to make this success possible. They all deserve a huge compliment from my side. Personally, I am very happy with my second place. After all, it is still an asphalt rally, which means it is not exactly a Finn’s favourite surface. I would obviously have liked to have repeated my success from Finland, but my team-mate Sébastien Ogier was simply too good this weekend. You just have to acknowledge that. I was able to extend my advantage over third place in the World Championship. That has to remain my goal. Whatever happens, I will push hard in the final third of the season.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“What an absolutely fantastic result for Volkswagen, and how nice to see so many happy faces back at the service park. Nowhere was the desire to win shown by everyone in the team as great as here. It was important to us to make amends for recent years with such a phenomenal result. It feels fantastic to have been a part of it. After the good start we made on Friday, we were in a relatively safe third place – with big gaps both in front and behind us. The last two days were all about maintaining this position without taking any uncalculated risks. We managed that, but it was not particularly exciting. However, that is exactly what we wanted: an uneventful Rally Germany.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“A one-two-three at your home rally is certainly very special. However, given our history at this round of the World Championship, which was the only rally we had not won before today, it is more emotional than all the other victories we have celebrated. As always, every single person in the team was totally motivated and consciously did their bit to make this magnificent success possible. However, they actually managed to raise the bar even higher. The entire team – whether mechanic, engineer, logistician, chef, physio, doctor, management, or marketing and PR – has invested so much sweat and tears in this victory. That is what makes it so special. However, I would like to reserve my biggest compliment for our drivers and co-drivers: they withstood huge pressure, lived up to the enormous expectations and did an absolutely outstanding job. I think everyone at Volkswagen is incredibly proud of what we have achieved. I know I certainly am.”


Final classification after 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier/J. Ingrassia 3h 35m 49.5s  
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +23.0s  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +1m 56.6s  
4 D. Sordo / M. Martí +2m 09.3s  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +2m 33.8s  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt +2m 52.1s  
7 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +3m 12.5s  
8 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +4m 26.6s  
9 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +4m 46.8s  
10 S. Lefebvre / S. Prévot +4m 54.5s  

Number of the day

30.

 

The number 30 played a key role for Volkswagen at its home race. Not only did the Polo R WRC claim its 30th victory in 35 rallies, but it was also the 30th win of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s careers. This win earned them a special place in the annals of the World Rally Championship. They have drawn level with Marcus Grönholm in the list of drivers with the most wins to their name, and are now tied with the Finn in second place. French drivers have now pulled ahead in their the ongoing battle with the Finns: France now has 175 wins to its name – one more than Finland with 174. Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are the only regular drivers from their countries in the World Rally Championship.


Day 3 in Germany.

Saturday, 22.08.2015


Rally Germany day 2. The video.


Images Day 2 (10)


Day Report

Volkswagen makes it 17 stage wins.

 

Volkswagen is still the measure of all things at the 2015 Rally Germany after the second of three days. Winners of all 17 stages of the rally so far, their drivers in the top three spots in the overall standings: As good as it gets. After the dramas of the previous two editions of the Rally Germany, the current state of play in the ninth WRC event of the year is a relief for everyone. “The team, the drivers and the co-drivers have done an impeccable job so far and everyone at Volkswagen is proud of this performance,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. "We have achieved a lot at the 2015 edition of the Rally Germany, but have by no means won it yet."

 

This is true. There may only be one day of stages left. But there are still four special stages with 67.34 timed kilometres to be completed successfully on Sunday. And no one has forgotten the dramas that unfolded on the Sunday of the 2014 edition of the Rally Germany. However, it has been evident that the entire team wants to make amends. Sébastien Ogier delivered a flawless performance on the day largely held on the difficult Panzerplatte stages. Six of nine stage best times went to the world champion. The other three went to his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who trails overall leader Ogier by 33.8 seconds. Last year's third-placed driver Andreas Mikkelsen is 1:13.7 minutes behind JML.

 

With the goal in sight, Sunday now requires the utmost concentration to finally settle unfinished business with the Rally Germany.


Classification after 17 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2h 55m 42.5s  
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +33.8s  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +1m 47.5s  
4 D. Sordo / M. Martí +2m 14.3s  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +2m 23.8s  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt +2m 53.5s  
7 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +2m 56.7s  
8 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +4m 10.7s  
9 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +4m 34.6s  
10 S. Lefebvre / S. Prévot +4m 43.3s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“I have survived ‘Panzerplatte’!”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“That was the day I had the most respect for. But, I have survived ‘Panzerplatte’! In the morning, Julien and I took it a little easier, in order to confirm the pace notes. Despite this, it was a virtually perfect run. Only on the first running of the long ‘Panzerplatte’ stage was it extremely difficult without the split times, which we no longer receive in the car this year. You don’t know exactly how you are doing compared to the opposition. On the second run, this stage was really perfect. I pushed hard, especially in the final ten kilometres. It obviously looks great for Volkswagen now, but we certainly won’t be celebrating prematurely. After all, we still have a demanding day to come.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Today, I must be happy with second place. There is no debating that. I tried to attack on ‘Panzerplatte’, but was not rewarded for my efforts. I just wasn’t quite at my best today. My team-mate Sébastien Ogier produced a very impressive display and thoroughly deserves what is now a comfortable lead. Despite this, I am not unhappy with second place at this stage. For me, tomorrow is all about maintaining my lead over my team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and thus extending my lead over him in the overall standings.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Our position coming into today was relatively simple: the gap to our team-mates out front was too much to really mount a serious attack. And our advantage over those behind us was large enough for us not to have to take too many risks. We also tried a different set-up of the rear differential in the afternoon, in order to give us another possible option for the Rally France, where we will be on asphalt again. It took a while to get used to the new set-up, and it gave us a bit too much understeer in order to be able to produce really good times. However, the experience we gained is worth its weight in gold. Tomorrow, like last year, is all about achieving our goal and making it onto the podium. I we manage that, we can be happy with our performance.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“We have achieved a lot at our home rally in Germany, but have not won anything yet. The team, the drivers and the co-drivers have done a flawless job so far, and everyone at Volkswagen is proud of this performance. Tomorrow it is all about converting this belief into victory. However comes out on top come the finish will, as always, have done so according to the principle ‘may the best man win’. However, as at every other rally in the World Championship, the goal is for all three Polo R WRCs to finish. If we manage that, nothing ought to stand in the way of our first victory at the Rally Germany.”


Number of the day

82

After 307.09 of a total 374.43 kilometres against the clock, all three Volkswagen drivers are out in front. This means they now have 82 per cent of the total distance behind them – with zero per cent mistakes, zero per cent problems, but 100 per cent team spirit and 100 per cent motivation. But beware – and excuse the colloquialism – it’s not over until the fat lady sings.


Midday Report

Beware of the Hinkelsteins!

 

Day two of the Rally Germany. Volkswagen’s home event has not only been dominated by the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer, but also a battle between two genuine rally aces: Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are taking no prisoners at the top of the overall standings. After an exciting Friday, the duel for the lead has carried on where it left off at the rally around the Trier. Andreas Mikkelsen is currently third in the third Polo R WRC. As such, the trio of Volkswagens continue to lead the way. You could not ask for more – and at the home race to boot!

 

Saturday morning featured the absolute highlight of the rally. Three of the morning’s five special stages were held on the Baumholder military training ground – site of the legendary Panzerplatte. That meant the WRC cars had to negotiate slippery and sometimes uneven concrete slabs, as well as massive rocks – known locally as Hinkelsteins – that lined the route. The cars often passed very close to these inconspicuous rocks, which are actually intended to stop tanks. It is not hard to imagine what can happen when a WRC car comes into contact with this hidden peril.

 

Thankfully the Volkswagen drivers did not have a close encounter with the Hinkelsteins, but there was no sign of them taking a cautious approach. They first had to tackle the Arena Panzerplatte stage (2.87 kilometres, before moving on to the massive Panzerplatte Lang, with its 45.61 kilometres against the clock. In front of thousands of thrilled fans, Ogier took 1.1 and 1.6 seconds out of Latvala to extend his overall lead. 

 

He then went 6.8 seconds faster than his closest rival on Panzerplatte Lang. However, it was anything but child’s play: “When you don’t get any split times in the car, you never know how fast you are actually going,” said Seb. “I had to look after the tyres, whilst at the same time being quick. I am very happy with the special stage.” Latvala, on the other hand, was a little frustrated: “I didn’t really have a feel for the car. But that’s life.” Jari-Matti has the opportunity to make amends this afternoon, when another five stages are scheduled – including two on the Panzerplatte.

 

Overall standings after SS 13:

 

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2h 08m 26.5s

2. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) +18.5s

3. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +1m 07.0s

4. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +1m 42.6s

5. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) +1m 49.3s


Day 2 in Germany.

Friday, 21.08.2015


Rally Germany day 1. The video.


Images Day 1 (10)


background

Panzerplatte special … with Willy Rampf.

Beads of sweat are unlikely to form on his forehead. Willy Rampf, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport, has already experienced too much in the world of motorsport for that. Nothing fazes the 62-year-old that easily. However, when it comes to the notorious special stage “Panzerplatte” at the Rally Germany, Rampf becomes somewhat humble. “One small mistake can result in disastrous retirement,” he warns.

“There's one point at which you brake going downhill,” says Rampf. “Then you turn left, drive between two concrete blocks, and then turn right to come out. When you look at the speed at which the cars reach that point, it's hard to imagine how they can come out of it in one piece.” It's not only here that you breathe in while the three Volkswagen duos race along the military training area of Baumholder between the unyielding “menhirs”. These were originally intended to stop tanks – and with the slightest of driving errors, they also stop World Rally Cars.

Panzerplatte will be driven a total of five times during Saturday's rally action, on two different stages. At 2.87 and 45.61 kilometres, they are the longest and the shortest stages of the Rally Germany. Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala will be pleased. The special stages on the military training ground are among the Finn's favourites. “It's a bit like in Finland: hilly, the road is wide, the grip changes constantly, and the speed is high,” said Latvala. “I like it because it's a smooth drive.” Jari-Matti was unbeatable in Finland. Just as he was on Panzerplatte last year. The “Flying Finn” got the best time on all four special stages.

Sébastien Ogier was the fastest to master the menhir obstacle course in 2013. Since Volkswagen entered the WRC in 2013, all of the special stages on that course have been won by the Polo R WRC. However, it is no secret that this wasn't enough to get the win at Volkswagen's home rally. That might just change this year. However, on the way to the win, Ogier, Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen must master the Panzerplatte safely and successfully. In contrast with Willy Rampf, will beads of sweat form on their foreheads?


Day Report

Perfection.

 

Day one of the 2015 Rally Germany was very nearly one for the history books. Eight special stages, eight one-two-three finishes for Volkswagen? That would have been a first since Volkswagen joined the WRC in 2013. And the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer came within a whisker of pulling off this remarkable feat. Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti-Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen led the way, and for just short of ten hours none of the opposition was able to match the pace of the Volkswagen trio. No wonder everyone in the team was glued to the monitors displaying the stage times in the service park in Trier. The Volkswagen drivers had already notched up 96 per cent of the day’s top-three times, and looked set to make history. However, Dani Sordo (Citroen) and Elfyn Evans (Ford) gate-crashed the party on the eighth and final stage of the day, just slotting in ahead of Mikkelsen in fifth place.

 

There was, of course, no sign of disappointment. Eight one-twos – perfection! Seven third-place finishes – very good. Here’s hoping this dominance continues at round nine of the current WRC season. “A good day for us,” said Ogier, who takes a 9.5-second lead over team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala into day two of the Rally Germany. Mikkelsen, in the meantime, is currently third – 34.9 seconds behind overall leader Ogier and a comfortable 31.9 seconds clear of his closest rival Sordo. As perfect as Friday may have been, from Volkswagen’s point of view, there is still a long way to go in Germany. Nine formidable special stages await on Saturday. Five of these will take place on the infamous “Panzerplatte”. With the stages lined by ruthless Hinkelsteins – large rocks designed to stop tanks in their tracks – any lapse in concentration can soon spell disaster. After Friday’s trip through the vineyards along the Mosel, full focus is once again essential on Saturday. And the Volkswagen will once again be striving for one thing: perfection.


Classification after 8 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1h 19m 13.5s  
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +9.5s  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +34.9s  
4 D. Sordo / M. Martí +1m 06.8s  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 08.7s  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt +1m 22.1s  
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +1m 27.8s  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 31.4s  
9 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +1m 35.4s  
10 S. Lefebvre / S. Prévot +2m 27.3s  

Number of the day

96.2

Almost a perfect day for Volkswagen at its home rally in Germany. But why only almost? Of the 27 possible top-three times, 26 went to the Polo R WRC – a quota of 96.2 per cent. Seven stage wins for Sébastien Ogier, one for Jari-Matti Latvala. Only on the eighth and final stage of the day, “Mittelmosel 2”, were Dani Sordo (Hyundai) and Elfyn Evans (Ford) slightly quicker than Andreas Mikkelsen.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“The afternoon loop went perfectly for us.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Julien and I had a really great start to the Rally Germany. It was still slippery in some places this morning, which is why I opted to be a bit more cautious rather than take any unnecessary risks. Particularly since we ended up in the vineyard on the 'Moselland' stage last year. Then the afternoon loop went perfectly for us and we really pushed. The set-up of the Polo was better than in the morning. But Jari-Matti isn't far off. On Panzerplatte on Saturday we definitely need to pick up where we left off today.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Overall we are pleased with the day. However, it was very difficult to get the right feeling for braking. I managed it well in the morning, which meant we were fast. I didn't want to continue taking too many risks in the afternoon – with the track getting dirtier and dirtier. Unfortunately this meant that I lost a little more than nine seconds to my team-mate Sébastien Ogier. However, second place is a good result at the end of the day and we still have a few special stages to go. And we saw just how quickly things can change here last year. Now I am looking forward to Panzerplatte in particular.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“It wasn't easy to get into a good rhythm on asphalt from the word go today. It is six months since we last competed on this surface. I made a few minor errors, in the morning in particular, and frequently braked much too early. This meant I wasn't able to match the pace of my team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. Hats off to their performances. We gained more momentum in the afternoon, but had a brief moment of panic when the rear right of my car came into light contact with something on the seventh stage. Then we were a bit more cautious after that. Overall I am pleased with the day and am looking forward to tomorrow. I really like the stages on Baumholder in particular.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“We have had promising starts to the Rally Germany for the past two years – but today surpassed any of those. To take every top-three result but one and to win every single stage is almost unbelievable. It shows how seriously we are taking our mission to win on home soil. The team has left nothing to chance and is working perfectly together. However, the greatest praise is reserved for our drivers and co-drivers today: it doesn’t get any better than that – and that goes for Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, as well as Julien Ingrassia, Miikka Anttila and Ola Fløene. We have taken the first step towards success at the Rally Germany. However, we are well aware that we have another two tough days ahead of us, on which we will have to maintain full concentration – from drivers to mechanics, co-drivers to engineers. We will definitely not let up.”


Midday report

Ogier vs. Latvala: separated by a blink of an eye.

 

0.1 seconds, a tenth of a second – a blink of an eye! That is all that currently separates Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala at Volkswagen’s home race, the Rally Germany. As has so often been the case, the two Volkswagen drivers are battling it out for the place in the sun – quite literally at the rally around Trier. The weather conditions along the Mosel could hardly be better. Blue skies only add to the idyllic and picturesque appearance of the vineyards in late summer.

 

However, the sun can be a little deceptive. Conditions at the Rally Germany are far from easy. Friday morning’s first four special stages have thrown up a number of tricky spots at the first all-asphalt rally of the year. The grip level was by no means ideal, and a few sections were still damp. “I had to brake very early in some places,” said Andreas Mikkelsen, who currently lies third behind Ogier and Latvala. “It is really difficult to find the right braking point.” World champion Ogier shared his sentiments: “Some corners are not easy. The asphalt is very slippery.”

 

The hope is that the winding roads will offer greater grip in the afternoon. By then, the WRC2 and Junior WRC cars ought to have deposited plenty of rubber on the surface. Furthermore, it looks set to be considerably warmer in the afternoon. As such, we look all set for an even more intense and exciting battle for the lead.

 

Result after SS 4: 

 

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 39m 41.7s

2. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) +0.1s

3. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +15.9s

4. Kris Meeke (Citroën) +21.4s

5. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +33.9s


Day 1 in Germany.

Thursday, 20.08.2015


Images Opening Day (9)


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“One little mistake can soon mean the end here.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“After my rather disappointing performance at last year’s Rally Germany, I have come to Trier with an extra-large helping of motivation. That is why I did a few extra laps in the Shakedown, to try out all the set-up options for the rally. The car felt perfect. I have done a lot of testing over the past week to get to this point. I am ready to go, and am particularly looking forward to the vineyards – especially as it does not look like raining this year. That will make the fast sections around Trier even more enjoyable for all the drivers. Generally speaking, the driving itself is very different to on gravel – the g force is far greater.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“We had a good Shakedown. It was particularly important to find the right set-up for the dampers – and we managed that. We must now focus on the key factors at this rally: braking and accelerating out of corners. At the same time, there is not a very big margin for error at the Rally Germany. One little mistake can soon mean the end here. It would be great to finally get on the podium here this year. That has to be our goal for the weekend.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The Shakedown was more or less the same stage as last year, and I know it very well. I tried to put that knowledge into practice, by braking in the right places, for example. That is not the only reason I am happy with my drive. The Polo R WRC is really fun to drive on asphalt, and the time was okay too in the end. The car is definitely ready to win. It is now up to us drivers to deliver the results it deserves. Given my own performance, I am confident after the Shakedown. However, the Rally does not really get started until Friday morning.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“We proved in 2013 and 2014 that Volkswagen is fast and reliable at its home event in Germany – the only things that did not reflect that were the results. Unfortunately Lady Luck has deserted us here for the last two years. But we are now hoping it will be third time lucky. As at every round of the World Championship, we will be leaving nothing to chance. The Shakedown times show that the Polo R WRC is also fast on asphalt. These times do not ultimately mean an awful lot, but they do give us confidence going into the next three days, during which we will be more focussed than ever on successfully achieving our goal of winning our home rally.”


Shakedown report

115.84 km/h - Volkswagen fastest.

 

Through the vineyards around Trier at rally speed: Volkswagen enjoyed a perfect final preparation for the Rally Germany, clocking the fastest times in the Shakedown ahead of its home rally. In “Free Practice” for the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), at the wheel of the Polo R WRC, were the fastest pair on the “Konz” stage – recording an average speed of 115.84 km/h. Their Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) and Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) also successfully made the switch from gravel to asphalt mode, ending the Shakedown in second and fourth place respectively.

 

The Rally Germany is the home event for the Polo R WRC and, of all things, is the only WRC rally that the 318-hp World Rally Car is yet to win. The three driver/co-driver pairings now go into the weekend determined to complete the CV of the most successful car in the history of the World Rally Championship. The Porta Nigra in Trier will provide the backdrop to the ceremonial start on Thursday evening, before the 21 special stages, featuring 374.43 kilometres against the clock, are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Rally Germany is the first genuine asphalt rally of the year and, after six gravel events, represents a dramatic change in the characteristics of the route.

 

 

Shakedown result: 

 

1. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 2m 21.4s

2. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 2m 21.6s

3. Kris Meeke (Citroën) 2m 22.1s

4. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2m 22.1s

5. Robert Kubica (Ford) 2m 23.0s

Wednesday, 19.08.2015


Asphalt Special … with Willy Rampf.

The dust has settled. After six gravel rallies, the elite of the WRC now move onto narrow asphalt roads. Next up is the Rally Germany – the “Beast” – which invariably produces drama on the Panzerplatte, which is littered with the giant car-wrecking rocks known locally as Hinkelsteins, and in the winding vineyards. The Volkswagen team still has a score to settle with its home rally. Since joining the World Rally Championship in 2013, Volkswagen has been successful everywhere except in Germany. It is time to change all that. What are the main features to look out for in and around Trier? To what extent does the asphalt set-up for the Polo R WRC differ from the gravel set-up? A man who has always been right at home on asphalt roads and spent many years preparing Formula One cars for Grand Prix circuits has the answers to all these questions. Willy Rampf, Technical Director of Volkswagen Motorsport, reveals all in our “Asphalt Special”.

The Rally Germany represents the first all-asphalt rally of the season. To what extent do the gravel and asphalt set-ups differ?
Willy Rampf: “The biggest difference is obviously in the chassis. On gravel, the jounce travel is far greater than on asphalt. Also, the car has a far higher ride on gravel: it lies between 50 and 70 millimetres lower on asphalt. This is simply to lower the centre of gravity. The shock and damper set-up is much more rigid on asphalt. Furthermore, we fit larger wheels at the Rally Germany. As such, the brake system is also larger than at gravel rallies.”

From a technical point of view, what makes an asphalt rally so special?
Willy Rampf: “The drivers basically want a very precise car, because they have to position the car very accurately – particularly at the Rally Germany, as the tarmac roads are relatively narrow. There are very few alternatives: on the one side is a wall, on the other is usually a crash barrier. That is why we need a very precise car. The mechanical set-up is very important in this regard, as it allows us to provide the drivers with a car that meets their desires, as far as the chassis and differential set-up is concerned.”

What areas can you tweak to ensure the Polo is ideally prepared for the asphalt?
Willy Rampf: “We can influence the entire damper and shock set-up, namely which shocks and anti-roll bars we use. That also allows us to determine how much understeer and oversteer to allow. Obviously we can also influence the differential set-up – front and rear. We can preload differentials, and the basic locking torque is also important when accelerating and braking. For example: when one wheel is in the air, the other is still powered. With a lot of lock-up torque, the car would no longer slide in a straight line, as both wheels would revolve at the same speed – that would give us understeer. We have to find a compromise.”

What influence does tyre pressure have?
Willy Rampf: “We obviously try to drive with low air pressure, as this allows better grip. However, this is something the driver must agree with the engineers on-site. The drivers have a lot of experience in this field, and know exactly what works best for them.”

To what extent are you able to use data from the 2014 Rally Germany and this year’s “Monte”?
Willy Rampf: “The conditions at the Rally Monte Carlo make it a unique race, as we have to contend with ice, snow, and wet and dry roads. The Rally Germany is an all-asphalt rally, which makes finding the right set-up a bit easier than at the ‘Monte’. We can use data from last year. The special stages are basically the same as in 2014. For this reason, the drivers and engineers know exactly what to expect.”

Willy Rampf will be back with more insights in Friday’s “Panzerplatte Special”.

Friday, 14.08.2015


Background

No compromises.

Victorious everywhere except for Germany so far – if Volkswagen get their way, between 20 and 23 August 2015, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) or Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) will close a small but crucial gap in the resumé of the Polo R WRC. The Rally Germany, the ninth event in the World Rally Championship, is the only rally to date that the 318 hp World Rally Car is yet to win. Even though Volkswagen weren't exactly blessed with luck at their home event around Trier in 2013 and 2014, retiring early with different drivers in the lead at each of the rallies, the team is taking its usual meticulous and highly motivated approach to the task in hand. However, the business of getting a home win is anything but easy: The Rally Germany is the first real asphalt event of the WRC in 2015, and is regarded as the “beast” that really does cause dramas.

 

“One thing's for certain: Our record at our home event reflects neither our ambitious goals nor our previous performance in Germany,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “There is no other WRC event at which our desire to win is so great and so unfulfilled. We could have got the win under our own steam in 2013 and 2014, but retired with Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala in the lead respectively. But even though luck hasn't exactly been on our side at home, there is no reason why we shouldn't be fighting for first place again in 2015. With Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala we have two winners on asphalt lining up, and Andreas Mikkelsen is more than ready for his first ever race victory, and is pacy on all surfaces. And the team behind the three of them is also a winning bunch: They won't be making any compromises at the Rally Germany, each of them will be putting in that extra bit of hard work and perfection.”

 

Volkswagen will take on the “beast” Rally Germany with the same respect as they have for every WRC event, but by no means with fear. Unlike in the previous years, Volkswagen will not be using newly built chassis for Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala, instead they will be using tried and tested chassis that were in action at the “Monte”, in Mexico, Portugal and Poland. And there is another difference from last year: Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila are proven asphalt winners – at the Rally France in 2014 they celebrated the first Finnish success on this surface in 14 years, eleven months and 23 days, and also got the win at the fastest asphalt race of all time. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene also took this opportunity to prove that they are absolute all-rounders – coming second, after finishing in this position on ice and snow in Sweden and on gravel at the Rally Poland.

 

To build on these successes at the first pure asphalt event since then, Volkswagen has prepared meticulously for the special conditions at the Rally Germany during testing on Corsica and in Germany, and has devised basic tuning for the second generation Polo R WRC for all three driver pairings.

 

The WRC drivers and co-drivers will be familiar with much of the 2015 edition of the Rally Germany. None of the special stages are completely new to the participants. The notorious Panzerplatte on the military training area of Baumholder – with its unyielding “menhirs” – is on the itinerary four times on Saturday with two different stages. The area, which is only open to civilians during the Rally Germany, has caused all sorts of dramas in the past due to its particularly slippery asphalt combined with those menhirs that are intended to stop tanks. The world's elite will take on the drift of these special stages with the respect they deserve – at 2.87 and 45.61 kilometres in 2015, they are the longest and the shortest stage of the Rally Germany. However, the highlight is the two special stages on Sunday. “Stein & Wein” and “Drohntal” are characterised by the serpentine road along the vineyards, symbolic of the Rally Germany. The second pass of the Drohntal stage will be the closing “Power Stage” on which bonus points are awarded for the top three driver/co-driver duos.


Number for the Rally.

50

Crew chief Ralf Arneke has a double celebration at the Rally Germany. In WRC action for the 50th time since Volkswagen started the Polo R WRC project, he will also be celebrating his 50th birthday on rally Saturday. And what is top of his birthday wish-list? See above.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“We want to do it better this year.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I have mixed feelings about the Rally Germany. On the one hand, I won there in 2011 and have always been fast. On the other hand, I experienced the pain of minor errors on the narrow streets being penalised immediately in 2014. But that is history. We want to do better this year and that is definitely possible. However, we need to be focussed and avoid errors. Ahead of the Rally Germany we also tested brakes during testing in Trier so that we are properly prepared for the challenges of the asphalt tracks. Many sections of this year's Rally Germany are similar or identical to those of last year. I particularly like the winding special stages along the vineyards. They are lovely to drive and are so much fun in the Polo. It would be possible for Julien and I to secure the title in the drivers' and co-drivers' world championship in Germany. But we will only be focussing on ourselves and want to complete the rally successfully – ideally finishing in the middle of the podium of course.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Naturally the home event in Germany is special to the team. I am definitely ready. The win in Finland has given me a massive motivational boost. Things weren't going very smoothly before that, but at my home rally I showed that I can prevail in a head-to-head battle. Michelin are providing a new tyre for the Rally Germany, the H4, for which we adjusted the set-up of the Polo R WRC during testing a week ago. We also tested on Corsica this year. So I was able to get used to driving on asphalt. Asphalt rallies are something special because as drivers we need to get used to different surfaces with different characteristics in a short space of time. This is particularly difficult at the Rally Germany on the special stage 'Panzerplatte' – my favourite stage. It is a bit like in Finland: hilly, the road is wide, the grip changes constantly and the speed is high. I like it because it is smooth to drive. It's much more technical along the vineyards. In 2013 I led the Rally Germany up until Saturday afternoon, and last year until Sunday morning – this year it would be nice if I could keep the lead until the end. A top three finish is realistic. That's my goal.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“At the Rally Germany we drive three asphalt rallies in one weekend because the surfaces on the three days are so different. Ahead of the Rally Germany I tested in the vineyards so that I could get used to the surface at rally speed. I haven't driven on asphalt since the Rally Monte Carlo. But I'm looking forward to it. I like the special stages in Germany and I hope that I can find my rhythm quickly. Last year I was the best Volkswagen driver in third place. Naturally we want to do better as a team this year. I expect that we will be fighting for the lead. But we can't forget about the competition: My friend Thierry Neuville and Hyundai won here last year. On top of that, Citroën with Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg are always quick on asphalt. The weather can also be a crucial factor, since it changes constantly. So there are many different challenges to master. My retirement at the Rally Finland means that I lost second place in the drivers' championship. I want to regain that with a good result at the Rally Germany. My aim is to be fighting for a top three spot.”