Rally France.

01 – 04 October 2015.

 

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

Timetable

 

Note: All times in the timetable are local, UTC + 2h (as of: 25.09.2015).

 

Thursday, 01 October 2015

08:00   Shakedown (Poggio-di-Venaco), 210 min. 03.88 km  
19:00   Ceremonial start (Place de Gaulle)    

Friday, 02 October 2015

09:23 SS 01 Plage du Liamone–Sarrola 29.12 km
13:39 SS 02 Casamozza–Ponte Leccia 1 43.69 km
14:47 SS 03 Francardo–Sermano 1 36.43 km

Saturday, 03 October 2015

09:00 SS 04 Casamozza–Ponte Leccia 2 43.69 km
10:08 SS 05 Francardo–Sermano 2 36.43 km
13:52 SS 06 Muracciole–Col de Sorba 48.46 km

Sunday, 04 October 2015

07:25 SS 07 Sotta–Chialza 36.71 km
08:58 SS 08 Zérubia–Martini 41.46 km
12:08 SS 09P Bisinao–Agosta plage 16.74 km
13:45   Podium ceremony (Ajaccio)  

Sunday, 04.10.2015


Images Day 3 (7)


Final report

Finn-tastic! Second asphalt win for Latvala.

 

Congratulations! Second asphalt win for Jari-Matti Latvala and his second win at the Rally France after his victory in 2014! The Finn is slowly getting the hang of asphalt. He revealed his secret to success after reaching the finish line on Corsica. “I didn't take too many risks throughout the weekend and am delighted with this win,” said the “Flying Finn.” “Winning on asphalt for the second time and in France for the second time feels fantastic!” Jari-Matti is only the second Finn to have won on Corsica. Before him, Markku Alén won in 1983 and 1984.

 

Latvala's closest rival at the rally on Corsica was Ford driver Elfyn Evans. The Brit made his mark on day one in particular. Heavy rainfall and a storm turned the otherwise picturesque island of Corsica into a muddy mess; two stages had to be cancelled over the course of the weekend. Evans coped best with the track that was still wet on Friday, and led the field with an advantage of 18.7 seconds after day one. Jari-Matti was lurking in third place, behind Hyundai driver Kevin Abbring. But then Latvala raced ahead on Saturday, won the morning's special stage and was figuratively hanging onto the rear of Evans' Ford Fiesta, who was still delivering an incredibly strong performance. In tow in third place was Andreas Mikkelsen, who after initial difficulties went on to deliver a solid performance on the French Mediterranean island.

 

Then Latvala overtook Evans on Saturday afternoon and had a lead of two seconds going into the final three stages on Sunday. The final day was a fairly relaxed affair. Latvala completed the final three stages slickly. After special stage 7, he already had an advantage of 17.6 seconds over Evans! And after special stage 8 it was 32.7 seconds! And after the Power Stage, which he finished in third place, behind team-mate Sébastien Ogier and Robert Kubica (Ford), it was even 43.1 seconds believe it or not!

 

So Latvala didn't miss a trick at the front. Evans no longer needed to look ahead on the final day of rallying, and instead had to turn his attention to the Volkswagen driver behind him. Mikkelsen made up ground second by second. He was just 9.8 seconds behind Evans going into the Power Stage. Andreas really put his foot down once again on the 16.74-kilometre stage. But in the end it wasn't enough to clinch a one-two victory for Volkswagen. He missed out by 3.2 seconds. “We did our best and are happy with our performance,” said Mikkelsen at the finish line, “A spot on the podium is a good result.”

 

Sébastien Ogier, on the other hand, doesn't have a good result to be happy with at his home rally. The weekend is to be filed under “gain experience and forget”. On day one, Seb first had trouble with his gears before being awarded a penalty for not pressing the OK button to give the all-clear after suffering tyre damage to his Polo R WRC. Seb didn't give up, but wasn't able to finish any higher than 15th place on Corsica. At least the Power Stage victory and the three bonus points went to the Frenchman.

 

At the two remaining rallies in Spain and Wales, the drivers will be vying for the unofficial runners-up title. Latvala is in with the best chance. He is in second place with 160 points to his name, his only rival is team-mate Mikkelsen, who, with a total of 126 points, trails him by 34 points. So there's still a lot to play for in the WRC.


Final classification after 9 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +2h 39m 46.7s  
2 E. Evans / D. Barritt +43.1s  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +46.3s  
4 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +1m 33.4s  
5 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 53.6s  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +1m 59.8s  
7 D. Sordo / M. Marti +2m 10.4s  
8 B. Bouffier / T. De la Haye +2m 12.8s  
9 S. Sarrazin / J. Renucci +2m 39.3s  
10 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +3m 43.0s  
...      
15 O. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +9m 07.3s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“I dedicate my victory to Henri Toivonen."

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“Julien and I ended the rally with another fantastic day in the Polo here on Corsica. The conditions and profile of the route were very nice and spectacular today. Our strategy of fitting four soft tyres for the second stage of the day was perhaps a little too risky, but generally speaking I am very happy with the way the rally ended. And we won the Power Stage, which was a nice way for us to end this Rally France. Next year I will do everything in my power to ensure that the Tricolore is back flying the highest, after two Finnish victories in a row. For now, however, I would like to congratulate Jari-Matti and Miikka.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am struggling to put it all into words. It is a fantastic feeling to win here on Corsica. The conditions were not easy again today, as we were constantly switching between dry and damp sections. And my lead over Elfyn Evans was not exactly what you would call comfortable. Despite this, I wanted to avoid taking too many risks, to extend my lead in a controlled and cool manner, and to wrap up the win. I did exactly that. I would like to dedicate my victory to my idol Henri Toivonen. That is another reason why today is such a special day for me.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“The bottom line is, we are very happy with the way the Rally France panned out. Third place is a good result, although we were pushing really hard to catch Elfyn Evans in second place towards the end. We fought back really well, but unfortunately just came up short. Congratulations to Jari-Matti Latvala and Elfyn – they both drove a strong rally. I was perhaps a little too defensive at the start, but I still struggle a bit with the switch from gravel to asphalt. I can, and will, work on that. However, Saturday and Sunday worked out as I had hoped. We drove a sensible, but still fast, pace. As such, Ola and I can be happy with our performance. Sure, our goal still remains to finish runner-up in the World Championship – but we will have to perform some magic if we are to catch our team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who has a big gap. Whatever happens, we will definitely do our best.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“What a nerve-wracking Rally France. Storms, the most difficult conditions for years, and three outstanding Volkswagen drivers on top of their game. We are proud of this win. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila drove a tactically intelligent rally, holding back in the extreme weather and then attacking when and where they had to. They were worthy winners – I take my hat off to them. The same goes for Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene. The fact that only the reigning world champions and champions elect have claimed more podium finishes this year tells you everything. Speaking of the world champions: unfortunately Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were the victims of several doses of bad luck at their home race here on Corsica. However, victory on the Power Stage showed that they are still hungry for success and will fight right through to the finish.”


Number of the day

245.35

 

kilometres. That was the shortest WRC rally ever. Landslides forced the organisers of the Rally France to cancel two special stages – the two scheduled runs of “Casamozza–Ponte Leccia” on Friday and Saturday, each of which would have been 43.69 kilometres long. As such, the rally on Corsica was reduced to 245.35 kilometres against the clock. Before this weekend, the 2007 Rally Argentina (248.90 kilometres) and the 2011 Rally Jordan (259.56 kilometres) were the shortest races in the history of the World Rally Championship.


Day 3 in France.

Saturday, 03.10.2015


Rally France day 2. The video.


Images Day 2 (9)


Day Report

Short but sweet.


It is a short one, the Rally France on Corsica. One special stage fell victim to the mudbath on Friday, while the start of stage three was delayed. The field was turned on its head, with Elfyn Evans (Ford) leading the way, followed by Kevin Abbring (Hyundai) and then Jari-Matti Latvala in third place in the Polo R WRC. Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen was seventh at the end of the day, while Sébastien Ogier had dropped well down the standings following a puncture.

 

And it was again necessary to cancel a stage on Saturday. Casamozza–Ponte Leccia was the stage that could not be contested on the opening Friday, and it was to be the same story one day later, despite the fact that the sun has since started to shine. The previous day’s rainfall had made some of the sections of road unnegotiable, thus ruling out any hopes of rallying. As such, the WRC aces started their working day roughly one hour later and the second day of the rally was reduced from three to two special stages.

 

However, this by no means made the day less exciting. On the contrary. The goal for the Volkswagen drivers was to wipe out the opening day’s deficit. Ogier started under Rally 2 regulations, following a gearbox problem on his Polo R WRC on Friday. “For me now, this rally is all about getting experience,” said Ogier. It was a different story for Latvala, however. The “Flying Finn” was on the offensive.

 

Jari-Matti resisted the temptation to risk everything and go for flat-out speed on the morning stage. “I was cautious. The grip level differed a lot, which was not easy,” said Latvala at the finish. Despite this, Jari-Matti still made up 21 seconds on Elfyn Evans, putting him virtually in the slipstream of the British driver going into the final stage of the day. Victory on the final special stage of the day went to Ogier. Latvala was leading until the final split, until he suffered a minor issue with the gearbox. Despite this, he was still fast enough to pass Evans in the overall standings. Latvala was 3.7 seconds faster than his closest rival and now leads by two seconds. Mikkelsen is third.

 

A further three special stages are scheduled for Sunday, including the obligatory Power Stage to finish with. The forecast is for it to remain dry …..


Classification after 6 of 9 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1h 42m 24.8s  
2 E. Evans / D. Barritt +2.0s  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +30.8s  
4 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +53.6s  
5 K. Abbring / S. Marshall +1m 00.1s  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +1m 05.7s  
7 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 25.5s  
8 B. Bouffier / T. De la Haye +1m 37.2s  
9 S. Sarrazin / J. Renucci +1m 51.6s  
10 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +1m 53.9s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“I found a good rhythm.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Unfortunately things have not worked out as well for Julien and me at this ‘Tour de Corse’ as they have for the rest of the season so far. Changing the gearbox, and the resulting ten-minute penalty, obviously dashed any hopes of getting a good result. Despite that, we are trying to make the most of the situation and gain as much experience and get as many kilometres as possible under our belt, ready for next year. The conditions were extremely difficult again this morning. There was an awful lot of mud on the roads, particularly in the middle sector. That made it even more unpredictable than yesterday. In contrast, the longest stage of the rally, the 48 kilometres to Col de Sorba, was very nice. The conditions were ideal, and I was really happy with our time. Our goal for tomorrow is to win the Power Stage – that will certainly give us a bit more motivation.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I was very happy with today’s first stage. I knew that I had to take a few more risks than I did yesterday if I was to have a say in the battle for the podium. It was more difficult than yesterday, because the mud on the road made it even more slippery. Despite this I pushed hard, found a good rhythm and took some time out of Elfyn Evans. The afternoon stage also went well for me, although I unfortunately had problems switching gear 15 kilometres in. That meant I made up less time than would otherwise have been possible, but I still lead going into the final day. We still have another 100 kilometres ahead of us, and I am looking forward to every one of them.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“There is a lot of talk about the weather at the Rally France here on Corsica. Today it was really good – compared to yesterday’s storm. However, the change in the weather did not really make conditions on the special stages any easier. On the contrary: there was a lot of mud on the route, and it was like driving on ice in many sections – almost like at the ‘Monte’. Given the steep drops at the side of the route, you really do not want to make a mistake. We had two clean special stages today, without any real howlers. And we managed to climb four positions. I am now far more comfortable with the rally, the conditions and the Polo. As such, I am looking forward to tomorrow, when a spot on the podium is definitely possible. Maybe I can even improve another position.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The rally on Corsica is proving to be a tough nut to crack for the drivers and co-drivers. I take my hat off to the two impressive fightbacks from Jari-Matti Latvala/ Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene. They hit back today, and anything is still possible between now and the finish tomorrow. The fact that we are currently first and third at the Rally France, thanks to their efforts, is far from a matter of course – the conditions are extremely demanding and the route note crews are also playing a key role. They have also done a fantastic job for the last two days. Unfortunately Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia suffered another set-back after yesterday’s service. Their gearbox had to be replaced due to problems changing gear – and the resulting ten-minute penalty means they no longer have a chance of getting a positive result at their home rally. Instead, they are using the opportunity to test a few things for the coming asphalt rallies. All in all, Volkswagen got the maximum out of Saturday.”


Day 2 in France.

Friday, 02.10.2015


Rally France day 1. The video.


Images Day 1 (9)


Day Report

Rain causes chaos on Corsica – Latvala in third place.

 

360 litres per square metre are report to have fallen on some parts of the Rally France on Corsica. Where yesterday there was not so much as a small beck to be seen, the torrential downpours overnight saw raging floodwater wreak havoc with a muddy concoction of sludge and debris. Roads were impassable, cars floated through the streets like little boats, and the vast meadows around the Service Park for the “Tour de Corse” were converted into gigantic fields of mud. The rally aces in the WRC circus are used to adversity, but the conditions witnessed at the start of the eleventh round of this year’s WRC were the most difficult of the season so far.

This made it all the more astounding that the first stage of the Rally France took place without any notable problems, with world champion Sébastien Ogier and Robert Kubica (Ford) setting the fastest time to share the stage win. Shortly afterwards, however, stage two had to be cancelled, as the planned route could simply not be negotiated. This made special stage three the second and final stage of the opening leg of the rally on Corsica. After some fantastic split times initially indicated that even these adverse conditions would be unable to stop Ogier, the world champion was hit by a slow puncture. He had no choice but to pull over and change the rear-left tyre. The culprit appeared to be one of the rocks that had been washed onto the road. Gone were Ogier’s hopes of leading going into day two. Instead, he starts the second leg in 10th place, 1:13.2 minutes behind Elfyn Evans (Ford) who leads after day one.

Ogier’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala took a far more cautious approach to the second stage. “We didn’t want to take any risks,” said JML. The result was third place for him at the end of the opening day. Latvala currently lies just 22.9 seconds off the lead and a mere 4.2 seconds behind second-placed Kevin Abbring (Hyundai). Volkswagen’s number three, Andreas Mikkelsen, also made it safely through the stage, ending his working day in 7th place ahead of the next three special stages on Saturday. Incidentally, there is every chance that the drivers will have to tackle all 128.58 kilometres of the scheduled route. The weather experts are predicting 20 degrees and a mixture of sun and cloud. The first car takes to the route at nine o’clock – with Ogier at the wheel.


Classification after 3 of 9 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 E. Evans / D. Barritt +46m 48.5s  
2 K. Abbring / S. Marshall +18.7s  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +22.9s  
4 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +38.8s  
5 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak +40.3s  
6 S. Sarrazin / J. Renucci +43.1s  
7 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +44.5s  
8 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +47.0s  
9 B. Bouffier / T. De la Haye +1m 04.8s  
10 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +1m 13.2s  

Number of the day

157

...kilometres per hour. That was the wind speed generated by the storm front over Corsica on Thursday night and Friday, which deposited 361 litres of rain per square metre in the north of the island. As well as copious amounts of rain, muddy service locations and damp shoes, the “medicane” – as this Mediterranean storm, akin to a hurricane, is known – also had something more pleasant in store for the teams. Late in the morning, the eye of the storm was directly over the Service Park in Corte, resulting in a brief period of glorious sunshine.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“A lot still can happen here.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“An eventful start for us in these crazy conditions here on Corsica. After the torrential rain in the night, the morning’s first stage actually went very well for Julien and me. It was obviously still very wet and slippery, but not as dramatic as feared. Now, though, the conditions are a bit like playing roulette: anything can happen. Unfortunately luck was not on our side on this afternoon’s 36-kilometre stage. Two thirds of the way into the stage we suffered a slow puncture. To be honest, I don’t know exactly where and when, as we did not hit anything. I tried to continue for a further five kilometres, but we ultimately had no choice but to change the tyre. As a result, we obviously lost more than a minute and a half. However, although victory would appear to be out of reach for now, all is not lost. A lot can still happen at this ‘Tour de Corse’.“

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I was very happy with the first stage, as it was a clean run and I did not lose a lot of time to my team-mate Sébastien Ogier. However, the second special stage was a different story. I took it very cautiously. I made a conscious decision to drive it that way, as I was determined to get through safely without any problems. The heavy rain made it extremely slippery and there was a lot of aquaplaning. The whole day reminded me of the Rally Monte Carlo. You were constantly aware of the risk of getting a puncture. All in all, given the tricky conditions, it was a good day for us. If we make it back to the hotel dry, I will be happy.“

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I am still finding it difficult to get used to driving on asphalt – particularly as the conditions are far from typical and not at all easy. I am just lacking the necessary confidence to push. We probably need a few kilometres more to be able to match the pace of our team-mates. As such, our plan from the word go was not to take any risks and to set a safe pace. We are working hard to gradually find our rhythm. Anything is still possible at this rally – as we have seen today.“

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Just two special stages – but the Rally France still produced more than its share of stories. When the conditions are as extreme as this, you need plenty of luck to come out on top. Sébastien Ogier did not have that luck today – although he was by far the fastest driver and did not make any mistakes. A stone punctured the tread of his tyre. In contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen made it through without any major problems. They took a cautious approach, accepting they would lose some time, and still have every chance of finishing on the podium – if not winning. That remains the goal.”


Day 1 in France.

Thursday, 01.10.2015


Rally France opening day. The video.



Day review

Kiss left, kiss right and full throttle.

 

Mothers usually know what is best for their children. So mummy Ogier insisted on giving her offspring who goes by the name of Sébastien a kiss on each of his cheeks before he climbed into his Polo R WRC to take on the short 2.27-kilometre opening stage. Lo and behold, mum's kisses had the expected effect. After 58 drivers who started before him, Ogier Junior went full throttle to get the best time of the stage, which sees him lead the Rally Finland at the end of the opening day.

Kris Meeke (Citroen), who led the field for a long time, had to make do with second place, while Andreas Mikkelsen in the second Polo R WRC finished in third after a tidy pass. He trailed Ogier by just 0.8 seconds. Finland's local hero and last year's winner for Volkswagen, Jari-Matti Latvala, ended the short ride over the first stage in Finland in fifth place. But he is only 1.6 seconds off the top. The eighth round of the WRC season is now underway and can really get going on Friday, when 158.43 timed kilometres are scheduled.

As leader of the championship, Sébastien Ogier will be first to take to the track. And the competition has been warned. Mummy Ogier will be giving out kisses once again.

Result after SS 1:

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 1.48,6 Min.

2. Kris Meeke (Citroën) 1.49,2 Min.

3. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 1.49,4 Min.

4. Robert Kubica (Ford) 1.49,7 Min.
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 1.50,2 Min.

 


Number of the day

86.62

 

You need grit and determination in Poland. Three things are vital here: speed, speed and speed. And even when it comes to the “Mickey-Mouse” Mikolajki spectator stage, Poland is the fastest rally of the year. Sébastien Ogier was clocked at an average speed of 86.62 km/h over the 2.5 kilometres – the fastest Super Special Stage of 2015. Up until now, the tenth stage of the Rally Mexico had been the fastest of the Super Specials – with an average speed of 84.93 km/h. And there is plenty more to come: the pedal will be put firmly to the metal again on Friday. Flat-out quota in 2014: roughly two thirds of the distance. Forecast for 2015: room for improvement.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“It was very slippery.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I have fond memories of Corsica from my early days of rallying. I drove the course car here in 2007, then secured the title in the Junior WRC on this island in 2008. That opened the door to the top class, the WRC, for Julien and me. Tor return now as world champions is a very special feeling. However, it is going to be an extremely difficult rally – particularly given the weather forecast. We are expecting heavy rainfall on Friday, with a lot of standing water on the asphalt. It will be even more important than usual not to make any mistakes. The ‘Tour de Corse’ is very unforgiving. If you don’t stay on the right line here, your rally can be over in a flash. The Shakedown went well. We tried a few more set-up variants than we would otherwise do, as we were not able to test last week.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“We took full advantage of the time available to us on the Shakedown and tried out various set-ups. It was very slippery on the wet asphalt – nothing like it was during our test, when we had glorious sunshine. In the end, I am happy with the result. We are expecting very unsettled conditions all weekend, so you have to try to find a good rhythm. We will not attack from the word go, as the risk of making a costly mistake is just too great. However, we will obviously do our very best.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The Rally France here on Corsica is a completely new event for the Polo R WRC. And although I have I have contested the rally twice in the WRC and twice in the IRC, my experience amounts to about ten kilometres against the clock – and they were in the opposite direction to what we will be driving this weekend. On top of that, we must cope with the weather, as the forecast is not particularly good. As such, the priority for the Shakedown was to get a good feel for the handling after switching from the Australian gravel to the Corsican asphalt, and to find a good set-up for the Polo. I think we did that. We have a very tiring rally ahead of us – with corners, corners and more corners. There are basically no straights, so we hardly have any time to catch a breather. However, we are ready for it.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“We are in for a challenging Rally France. The weather experts are expecting heavy and persistent rain here on Corsica. Our drivers and everyone in the team must be fully alert. Our drivers used the Shakedown to get used to the wet surface and resulting lack of grip. We tested a lot of set-up variants – we will see tomorrow whether we found the right ones. Our goal remains to follow up the title wins in Australia with more positive results for Volkswagen – preferably with a win, of course. All three of our drivers are well capable of achieving that. However, anything is possible at this rally, particularly in these conditions.”


Shakedown report

The routine before the storm.

 

Sharpening the senses ahead of a genuine challenge: the Volkswagen drivers used the Shakedown ahead of the Rally France to prepare for the tricky conditions expected over the coming days. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were third fastest over the 3.88-kilometre stage used for the “free practice” ahead of round eleven of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Their Volkswagen team-mates, reigning world champions and champions elect* Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), ended the Shakedown in fourth and ninth place respectively. The Shakedown provided the competitors with a taste of things to come over the coming days. 

 

The weather experts are expecting torrential rainfall on Thursday evening and Friday, with up to 300 litres per square metre anticipated. And possibly a “medicane” – a rare weather phenomenon, similar to a hurricane, which forms over the Mediterranean. The Shakedown was held on a wet surface, on which grip levels changed constantly. All the Volkswagen duos completed five runs, in order to prepare meticulously for the rally on Corsica.

 

The Rally France starts on Friday with the first three of just nine special stages, at an average of about 37 kilometres per stage. First up, on Thursday evening, is the ceremonial start to this iconic event in Ajaccio, in the southwest of the island.

 

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.

 

 

 

Shakedown result: 

 

1. Robert Kubica (Ford) 2m 19.9s

2. Kris Meeke (Citroën) 2m 19.8s

3. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 2m 20.3s

4. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2m 20.6s

5. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) 2m 21.1s

6. Mads Østberg (Citroën) 2m 21.4s

7. Kevin Abbring (Hyundai) 2m 21.4s

8. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 2m 21.9s

9. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 2m 21.9s

10. Elfyn Evans (Ford) 2m 22.5s


Opening day in Spain.

Saturday, 26.09.2015


Salut Corse!

Rally number eleven of the season: the Rally France. Official name: Tour de Corse. The French round of the WRC is held on the beautiful island of Corsica. The Mediterranean island, home of the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte, is known colloquially as the “Wild Beauty”. And the rally promises to be a wild adventure for the WRC drivers too. Jari-Matti Latvala says of the rally: “If you find a 100-metre straight on Corsica, you are on the wrong island.” It is no coincidence that the event is also known as the “Rally of 10,000 Corners”. This year’s rally features just nine special stages. However, they pose a very stern challenge – especially as the average length of the special stages is 37 kilometres.

 

Before this year, the Rally France had been staged on the mainland – around Strasbourg, to be more precise. That had proven to be an extremely happy stomping ground for Volkswagen. The Polo R WRC won the rally in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia triumphed at their home event. Last year, it was the turn of Finnish duo Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila to come out on top. 

 

Volkswagen wrapped up all three titles (Driver, Co-Driver and Manufacturer) at the recent rally in Australia. For the third time in a row. However, there is enough at stake on Corsica to ensure the rally is more than just a show round. Having previously won at the Rally Germany, Volkswagen is now looking for its second success of the season on asphalt – and the first victory on Corsica, of course. Furthermore, the runner-up spot in the World Championship is still up for grabs. 

 

A maximum 84 points are still available in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship. As it stands, the two Volkswagen duos of Latvala/Anttila and Mikkelsen/Fløene are separated by exactly 23 points in the race for second place. Although nothing will actually be decided on Corsica, it does promise to be pivotal in who will go on to finish the season as runner-up. The two crews, who claimed a one-two for Volkswagen at the 2014 Rally France, also face competition from the Citroën and Hyundai camps. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën) trail the Finns in second place by 44 points but still have aspirations of finishing second overall – as do Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai) in fourth place, 48 points off second place.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“The roads can be damned narrow.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I feel fantastic at the moment and am more than happy with life, as we have already achieved all our goals so early in the season. I still have not fully grasped what we have achieved. However, our success does not mean that we can relax for the rest of the season. Sure, the pressure is now off, but my hunger for more victories has not been satisfied. The Rally France is a very special rally for me. I love Corsica and have had some great holidays there. In 2008, I lined up in the Junior class, with the support of the French Motorsport Federation. And now, seven years later, I am returning to Corsica with a World Rally Car. It goes without saying that I would like to win there with Volkswagen. After all, the rally on Corsica is one of the most prestigious rallies of all. However, the long special stages will be a very big challenge for both me and the tyres. The roads can be damned narrow. As such, the Recce will once again play a key role.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Winning the Manufacturers’ title so early in the season was absolutely brilliant. That is a confirmation for the entire team. Despite this, I have to say that I would have liked to have won the Drivers’ World Championship this year. That was my goal, and I failed. However, the season is far from over, and I want to win the remaining three rallies. After all, we can lay the foundation for next season with a successful run-in. Consistency and pace are the two key factors. I have a lot of positive memories of the Rally Corsica and gained valuable experience there from 2004 to 2008. There is one thing I particularly love about the Rally France on Corsica: the asphalt offers extremely good grip, but you can never cut the undulating corners, and there are hardly any straight sections. If you find a 100-metre straight on Corsica, you are on the wrong island. After all the dirt and dust in Australia, I am now looking forward to a nice, clean asphalt rally.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I am right up there with the front-runners, and can feel that I am able to match the pace of my team-mates. I always said that I wanted to improve this season. That means I must climb one more place in the Drivers’ Championship. As such, a place on the podium is my goal for the Rally France, which this year returns to Corsica after a long absence. I know the island very well, as I have raced there four times in the past – twice in the World Rally Championship and twice in the IRC. I have to admit that I am yet to master the rally and produce a flawless performance there. The Rally Corsica is totally unforgiving. There are some very tricky corners, extremely narrow roads and long special stages, on which you can soon damage your tyres. There are only two stages that we tackle twice on Corsica, so you must really pay attention during the Recce and be right on the ball. Compared to other rallies, there are no straights on Corsica, on which you can catch your breath. If you are not one hundred per cent focussed, you can forget the rally.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally France on Corsica represents a homecoming for the world champions. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will line up at their home round of the World Championship as champions. Given the way the season has panned out so far, it is crystal clear what this means: they will be out to win – as they are every time – and show what they are made of. However, the two crews who claimed a one-two in 2014 – Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, and Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene – also have high hopes and will be battling each other for the runner-up spot in the World Championship. However, our rivals at Hyundai, M-Sport-Ford and, above all, Citroën will also be doing everything in their power to win here. The unique itinerary, with its very long special stages, is a very interesting mix.”


Background

Did you know …

... the name Ogier joined the list of winners of the Rally France in 1961 and 1963? However, it wasn’t three-time world champion Sébastien, rather Jean-Claude Ogier, who at that time won the “Tour de Corse” as the co-driver alongside René Trautmann. Incidentally: Jean-Claude and Sébastien are not related, not even by marriage.

... Gilberte Thirion/Nadège Ferrier (B/CH) were the first winners of the “Tour de Corse” in 1956? Back then, the rally on Corsica was one of the most important national rallies.

... the Rally France on Corsica was part of the WRC calendar from 1973 to 2008? However, the WRC rotation system meant that in 1996 it was only part of the FIA 2-litre WRC for manufacturers.

... Volkswagen team-member Luís Moya won the Rally France in 1991 as the co-driver of Carlos Sainz, thereby making history? Sainz/Moya were the first Spanish duo ever to win in France.

... the Rally France is a strictly French affair? Out of 39 rallies in the WRC, 29 have been won by Frenchmen.

… multiple world champion Sébastien Loeb won the Rally France six times – all with Citroën? In the Alsace in 2010 and 2012, and on Corsica from 2005 to 2008.

… the other Sébastien – Volkswagen driver Ogier – also won the Rally France twice in the Alsace? With Citroën in 2011 and with Volkswagen in 2013.


Number for the Rally

05:01 hours

Five hours and one minute – that is the average amount of time between the start of the first and the final special stage on each of the three rally days at the Rally France on Corsica. As far as the actual action is concerned, it is the most compact schedule of the season. In comparison, the last two rallies in Germany and Australia, with an average of eight hours 34 minutes, and six hours 41 minutes respectively, were much longer. However, the times for the liaison stages and services are added to this.