Rally Spain.

22 – 25 October 2015.

 

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

Timetable

 

Note: All times in the timetable are local, UTC + 2h (as of: 23.09.2015).

 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

08:00   Shakedown (Salou), 90 min. 02.97 km
13:00   Start (Salou)  
18:08 SS 01 Barcelona (asphalt) 03.20 km

Friday, 23 October 2015

10:08 SS 02 Móra d'Ebre–Ascó 1 (gravel) 09.62 km
11:09 SS 03 Caseres 1 (gravel) 12.50 km
11:36 SS 04 Bot 1 (gravel) 06.50 km
12:09 SS 05 Terra Alta 1 (gravel/asphalt) 35.68 km
14:42 SS 06 Móra d'Ebre–Ascó 2 (gravel) 09.62 km
15:43 SS 07 Caseres 2 (gravel) 12.50 km
16:10 SS 08 Bot 2 (gravel) 06.50 km
16:43 SS 09 Terra Alta 2 (gravel/asphalt) 35.68 km

Saturday, 24 October 2015

09:15 SS 10 Porrera (asphalt) 07.43 km
09:42 SS 11 La Figuera 1 (asphalt) 26.26 km
10:28 SS 12 Poboleda 1 (asphalt) 10.63 km
11:23 SS 13 Capafonts 1 (asphalt) 19.80 km
14:16 SS 14 La Figuera 2 (asphalt) 26.26 km
15:02 SS 15 Poboleda 2 (asphalt) 10.63 km
15:57 SS 16 Capafonts 2 (asphalt) 19.80 km
17:15 SS 17 Salou (asphalt) 02.24 km

Sunday, 25 October 2015

07:17 SS 18 Els Guiamets 1 (asphalt) 06.80 km
07:50 SS 19 Pratdip 1 (asphalt) 19.30 km
08:37 SS 20 Duesaigües 1 (asphalt) 12.10 km
10:10 SS 21 Els Guiamets 2 (asphalt) 06.80 km
10:43 SS 22 Pratdip 2 (asphalt) 19.30 km
12:08 SS 23P Desaigües 2 (asphalt) 12.10 km
14:30   Siegerehrung (Salou)  

Sunday, 25.10.2015


Images Day 3 (22)


Final report

Pure drama, right down to the finish – Maiden win for Mikkelsen!

 

The Rally Spain witnessed an incredible climax. It is a long time since the World Rally Championship has seen this much drama. Andreas Mikkelsen had just finished the Power Stage and was celebrating second place in the overall standings, when the message reached him that the leader coming into the final stage – Sébastien Ogier – had crashed out. Indeed, Ogier’s badly damaged Polo R WRC was at a standstill in the middle of the road. He had skidded off the road in a tight bend and slid into a crash barrier.

 

Mikkelsen asked several times for confirmation, hardly able to believe the twist in the tail at this remarkable rally. His first WRC victory! “I really don’t know what to say. This is unbelievable,” said Mikkelsen, who was moved to tears. “This is not exactly the way I wanted to claim my first win. But I am still very happy.” Mikkelsen had spent the entire day looking over his shoulder. The final day featured six challenging stages. Mikkelsen started the final leg in third place, 2.9 seconds behind Latvala, but gradually made up tenth of a second after tenth of a second on his Finnish team-mate over the course of the day.

 

Latvala then suffered a puncture with three stages remaining, losing almost eight seconds to Mikkelsen as a result. Was that the end of the all-Volkswagen battle for second place? Not at all. Latvala bounced back emphatically with a stage win on SS 22. He trailed Mikkelsen by just 1.4 seconds going into the closing Power Stage. However, the Norwegian kept his cool and won the final stage of the rally. And this second place was ultimately to prove more valuable than anyone realised at the time. Second place dramatically became his first WRC victory in the blink of an eye. In the end, Mikkelsen finished 3.1 seconds ahead of Latvala to complete a one-two for Volkswagen. The same pair also finished first and second on the Power Stage. It was the perfect weekend for Mikkelsen, who picked up maximum points in Spain!


Final classification after 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 3h 21m 04.8s  
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +3.1s  
3 D. Sordo / M. Martí +21.2s  
4 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +1m 06.3s  
5 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +1m 08.2s  
6 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 23.3s  
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek +4m 14.2s  
8 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +8m 01.9s  
9 P. Tidemand / E. Axelsson +10m 18.0s  
10 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak +12m 15.0s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Don’t think it has fully sunk in yet."

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“I was too fast in a long left-hander and went a little too wide on the exit. We made contact with the crash barrier, which knocked us slightly off line and the wheel caught on a post holding the crash barriers. That ripped the wheel off – and it was all over. We went to hospital for a thorough check – just to be certain. Happily everything is ok. Unfortunately this mistake cost us the win. However, I am very pleased for Andreas and Ola, who fully deserve their first win in the World Rally Championship.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“When you look at the way the rally panned out, I think we can be very happy with the result. Right from the word go today, an exciting battle for second place developed with my team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen. With six tyres, I had opted for the safer strategy, while Andreas went for the more aggressive – and probably better – strategy with five. Anyway, my advantage had just about disappeared by the end of the morning. I then suffered a slow puncture on the 21st stage, which ultimately blew any hopes of finishing runner-up. I did eventually finish a rather fortunate second after my team-mate Sébastien Ogier crashed out. The most important thing is that nothing happened to him and his co-driver Julien. And, obviously, congratulations to Andreas and Ola on their maiden win in the World Rally Championship. I will attack again in Wales in three weeks – hopefully with a little better fortune.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“We have waited so long and worked so hard for this moment. When it finally arrived, we could hardly believe it: we have won our first World Championship rally! Today was exactly the opposite of what happened to us in Sweden. I am overjoyed, but don’t think it has fully sunk in yet. I am sure that will take a few days. We gave it our all on the Power Stage, and finally came up with the perfect stage at this rally. That would certainly have been enough for second place, but the victory is obviously the icing on the cake. It is a shame for Seb and Julien, but the most important thing is that they were not hurt in the crash. It has been an incredible weekend for us, which we will certainly celebrate in style today – with my family, my mechanics, and the entire team.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“What an unbelievable finale. What a thrilling rally. First and foremost: congratulations to Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene, who were rewarded for their hard and tireless work and great performances with victory today. Everyone in the team is absolutely delighted for them both. The fact that we are able to celebrate this first today is down to a second piece of good news: Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are well after their crash. The Power Stage may have cost them an all-but certain win, but I am sure they will get over that – especially after another impressive rally here in Spain and seven wins so far this season. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila put absolutely everything into this rally again, but were just beaten by Andreas and Ola. We now head to Great Britain with the knowledge that we have three winning duos in our ranks.”


Number of the day

1

 

Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene have won the Rally Spain with Volkswagen to claim their first victory in the FIA World Rally Championship.After twelve podiums with the Polo R WRC, Mikkelsen and Fløene climbed onto the very top step of the rostrum for the first time in their career – on their 64th appearance at the pinnacle of rallying.


Midday report

The pack of wolves.

 

It could go down as “Volkswagen Sunday”. Three titles and victory at the Rally Australia beckon. What do they need to do to make this possible? Well, the best way would be to finish with a one-two-three. However, it will take everything they have for Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen to pull it off. A showdown.

 

Kris Meeke is paying them plenty of respect: “They are like a pack of wolves,” said the Citroën driver, referring to his rivals in the Volkswagen camp. The race is on for victory and the places on the podium. Nobody is holding back. Full throttle for the top four. Sunday morning featured three stages Down Under, and plenty of fireworks from the “Vee Dubs” on their way to a hat-trick of stage wins. Three times the three Polo R WRCs came out on top – and three times it was Ogier followed by Latvala and Mikkelsen. Ogier leads, followed by Latvala – just 7.3 seconds back. In third place is Meeke – just 12.3 seconds further down the road. Mikkelsen, in fourth place, trails Meeke by just 4.2 seconds. It is going to be a real thriller and come right down to the wire. Volkswagen has a famous one-two-three in its sights, and the “wolves” are hungry for success.

 

"I want to win here,” said Sébastien Ogier. “But when Jari-Matti is flooring it like this, we have no choice but to push as hard as we can.” At stake is not only victory in Australia, but also the title. One Volkswagen duo is out to wrap up the title race with rallies to spare, the other to delay the seemingly inevitable at all costs. And with all that going on, it is worth noting that the one-two courtesy of Ogier and Latvala is more than enough to secure the Team title. 

 

As it stands, it looks like there could be one mighty big celebration. It could indeed be “Volkswagen Sunday”. Before then, however, the gladiators must still survive 21.95 kilometres of “Bucca Long” and 9.23 kilometres of “Wedding Bells”. This is not for the faint of heart. Keep it up Seb, Jari-Matti and Andreas.

Overall standings after SS 15:

 

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2h 41m 41.1s

2. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) +7.3s

3. Kris Meeke (Citroën) +19.6s

4. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +23.8s

5. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) +42.2s


Day 3 in Spain.

Saturday, 24.10.2015


Rally Spain day 2. The video.


Images Day 2 (13)


Day Report

The Volkswagen Express claims One-two-three.

Volkswagen dominant at the Rally Spain. Even tyre damage and intermittent brake problems couldn't stop the team from Wolfsburg at the Costa Daurada. These were the problems that plagued Jari-Matti Latvala on Saturday morning. The Finn temporarily lost more than 50 seconds to his team-mate and superior front-runner Sébastien Ogier, and was pushed down from second into fourth place.

But the Finn fought back on the afternoon's four stages and overtook both fellow Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo (Hyundai). “The morning really was far from ideal, but that meant I enjoyed the afternoon even more and was able to really go on the attack,” said Latvala, who was much happier at the end of day two in Spain than he had been a few hours earlier. Ogier extended his lead at the front to 54 seconds. “It's so much fun,” said the Frenchman. “I've got a great feel for the car and was able to really go for the kill on the clean asphalt sections in particular.”

Mikkelsen also moved up one place in the afternoon. He overtook Sordo in Latvala's slipstream so to speak, clinching the one-two-three lead for Volkswagen at the penultimate rally of the year. “I'm pleased with the day,” said Andreas talking about day two, which unlike the day before was held completely on asphalt rather than gravel. With a smile on his face, he added: “Slowly but surely I am getting into the asphalt groove.” That's a good foundation going into the final day of rallying on the Iberian peninsula. There are six special stages left to go.


Classification after 17 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2h 34m 56.4s  
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +54.0s  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +56.9s  
4 D. Sordo / M. Martí +1m 01.4s  
5 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +1m 42.2s  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +1m 43.7s  
7 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 56.5s  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 56.5s  
9 M. Prokop / J. Tománek +4m 22.9s  
10 P. Tidemand / E. Axelsson +7m 12.6s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

"I got off lightly today”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Another fantastic day for Julien and me at the Rally Spain. The asphalt stages are fantastic. As a driver, you have an incredible amount of fun in the cockpit. And I am coping better with the new Michelin tyres than I did with the previous version. The Polo is reacting absolutely perfectly to any movements of the steering wheel. It is like being on a racetrack, with the difference being that we also use the width of the streets for the racing line but don’t have any run-off zones. That gets the adrenalin pumping a bit. I knew I would have to put my foot down from the word go to keep Jari-Matti, in particular, at bay. When he suffered his puncture, which led to us having a larger lead, we were able to take a few less risks.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I got off lightly today – I am still second. In the morning I had problems under braking. Once I had solved them, I immediately set about trying to regain the time I lost. In doing so, I took too many risks and suffered a puncture in a right-hander, early into the twelfth stage. I could obviously say goodbye to any hopes of winning after that. Despite this, I was able to regain second place by the end of the day. I will try to defend that position through to the finish.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
"My plan is gradually bearing fruit. Like yesterday, I wanted to avoid doing anything crazy today. Instead, I tried to set a fast but intelligent pace. My goal was to catch Dani Sordo by the end of the rally and, if possible, to overtake him. We have already achieved this on Saturday. We are also in the midst of a nice battle for second place with our team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. All in all, it has been a good day for us. The plan for tomorrow is to keep the pressure on and battle with Jari-Matti right down to the finish line.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“All three Volkswagen drivers performed well today, and it seems as though the Volkswagen Express is chugging along nicely. With eight wins from eight stages, we only had one slight blemish today: Jari-Matti Latvala’s puncture, which he suffered after taking a few too many risks. However, even that cloud has a silver lining: we are now treated to a thrilling battle for second place, with one of those in contention being Andreas Mikkelsen, who climbed a lot of places today. At the moment, it may look as though Sébastien Ogier is disappearing into the distance. However, you can never be certain of anything in the World Rally Championship. The team has an exciting Sunday ahead of it. We are looking forward to it, especially as we have three Volkswagen drivers leading the way.”


Number of the day

396

The 2013, 2014 and 2015 champion has currently 396 stage wins to his name. Sébastien Ogier is homing in on his 400th stage win at the Rally Spain. He now has a further six stages on the final day to reach the next round figure. What are his chances? Well, Spain has proven to be a happy stomping ground for Ogier in the past. It was here, in 2013, that the Volkswagen driver claimed his 200th stage win – exactly two years ago.


Midday Report

Volkswagen superb on asphalt too.

 

The Rally Spain is a challenge like perhaps no other on the calendar. At least there is no other rally that offers as much variety in terms of surface. After the special stages on gravel (with brief asphalt sections), Saturday's action on the Costa Daurada took place exclusively on asphalted roads. The mechanics had to convert the chassis of the WRC cars over night, to be exact, lower them, swap the dampers and put on slicks. But the experienced mechanic teams are used to it by now. They've done it often enough.

 

From slippery gravel it was onto the roads on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Volkswagen's rivals had the bitter experience of just how treacherous these picturesque roads with their flawless asphalt can be. Many of the top drivers had accidents and dropped down the field, including Ott Tänak (Ford) and his M-Sport team-mate Elfyn Evans. When Tänak, who was in third place up until that point, had an accident, it was Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen who was the main beneficiary. He moved up two positions to take fourth place on the eleventh special stage: Tänak retired and he also overtook fellow countryman Mads Østberg (Citroën).

 

However, Volkswagen didn't escape without incident. Jari-Matti Latvala, previously in a strong second place behind team-mate Sébastien Ogier, struggled with braking problems with his Polo R WRC at times during the morning. When they were finally resolved, his WRC racer suffered tyre damage on the penultimate stage before the lunch break. “It's my own fault, I cut a corner too much and slit my tyres,” said Latvala visibly dejected at the finish line. However, the consequences weren't all that dramatic: Latvala is still in fourth place, about six seconds behind team-mate Mikkelsen, who in turn trails local hero Dani Sordo (Hyundai) by just 1.5 seconds. Seb Ogier is currently running away at the front. With a lead of 51.4 seconds, it will be hard for anyone to catch him. But there are still ten special stages to go.

 

Result after SS 13:

 

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2:01:14.6 hrs.

2. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) + 51.4 sec.

3. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) + 52.9 sec.

4. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) + 58.9 sec.

5. Mads Østberg (Citroën) + 1:15.1 min.


Day 2 in Spain.

Friday, 23.10.2015


Rally Spain day 1. The video.


Images Day 1 (14)


Day Report

The best things come to those who wait: Ogier leads after day 1.

It tipped the scales again. Just as it did on loop one in the morning, the lead changed hands on the final stage of the opening day of the Rally Spain, “Terra Alta 2”. And once again it was Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier who ended the day with his nose just in front of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

Ogier and Latvala both climbed five positions in the overall standings the first time they tacked “Terra Alta”, which, at 35.68 kilometres, is the longest stage at the Rally Spain. Ogier led Latvala, but the Finn wasted no time in claiming the top spot on the first stage of the afternoon, before going on to increase his lead over Ogier. Coming into the final stage of the day, Latvala’s advantage stood at 3.2 seconds.

But then came the hour of Sébastien Ogier. Or, to be more precise: the 22:49.4 minutes. Ogier was clearly faster than his rivals, particularly on the central, eight-kilometre asphalt section. “Seb was very good on this special stage,” said Latvala at the finish, praising his team-mate. “In contrast, I was not able to repeat this morning’s drive.”

The third Volkswagen driver, Andreas Mikkelsen, ended day one in sixth place overall, 37.4 seconds off the lead. However, changes are afoot in Spain. The World Rally Cars will be converted to their asphalt spec during this evening’s 75-minute flexi service. The drivers then face a total 199.45 kilometres of asphalt against the clock on Saturday and Sunday.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“A totally new rally starts tomorrow.”


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
A fantastic day: I am really pleased with our performance on the opening day of the Rally Spain. The long day, with eight consecutive gravel stages without an interim service, was a real challenge that we and the Polo mastered perfectly. In the afternoon, in particular, Julien and I still had really good tyres on the final 35-kilometre stage, which is probably what made the difference. With the switch to asphalt, a totally new rally starts tomorrow. The car has a much firmer set-up and reacts more directly when braking and steering. Another challenge that I am really looking forward to. Since the roads here are very wide, it is a little bit like being on a circuit. Choosing the right line will be crucial.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
I am very happy and will try to carry on like this on Saturday. I didn't get off to quite the start I had planned. But after the first stage this morning I knew that I had to change something. As a result, it wasn't only the set-up of the car that I worked on, but also on my mental attitude. This was noticeable immediately with better times. In particular, I was much faster on the long 'Terra Alta' stage than last year. The Polo R WRC ran smoothly and I didn't have any problems with tyre wear either.“

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
I still haven’t really found the rhythm I was hoping for today. I was simply too cautious this morning, and consistently lost time as a result. In the afternoon I tried to pace my tyres better and was happy with my performance on the monster stage, ‘Terra Alta’. Despite this, sixth place is not what I was after. Tomorrow we will see a completely different side to the Rally Spain. We will run the firmest chassis set-up of the entire season on the asphalt stages. We will have to see what we can achieve after this dramatic change from gravel to asphalt.

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
Tactics played a major role today, and our drivers did an excellent job in this regard. It was important to look after the tyres and pace oneself intelligently on the long special stage. Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen showed that with the fastest three times at the end of the day. It will be fascinating to see how the rally develops on asphalt, as it takes on a completely different character. We are very happy with the way things have gone so far.


Classification after 9 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1h 24m 58.4s  
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +4.0s  
3 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +11.3s  
4 D. Sordo / M. Martí +26.9s  
5 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +29.7s  
6 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +37.4s  
7 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +38.3s  
8 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +59.4s  
9 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 03.8s  
10 E. Evans / D. Barritt +1m 09.2s  

Number of the day

75

The drivers and crews must now switch from gravel to asphalt mode overnight. While Friday was all about gravel roads, Saturday and Sunday feature special stages akin to circuit racing on asphalt routes on the Costa Daurada, on the outskirts of Barcelona. The longest service of the season gives the mechanics a maximum 75 minutes, in which to convert the World Rally Cars to their asphalt configuration. This involves replacing more than 1,300 individual components per car.


Midday report

Dusty affair – Volkswagen out in front.

 

Once the dust finally settled, the opposition probably could not believe their eyes at first. After five special stages, Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala actually hold an early lead. Their Polo R WRCs were the fastest cars on the Terra Alta special stage – the longest on the Rally Spain, on the Costa Daurada – storming from sixth and seventh overall to lead the rest of the field.

 

The conditions were far from ideal this morning. The fact that Seb Ogier, as championship leader, was first onto the route this morning actually proved to be an advantage this time. The complete lack of wind meant the dust hung in the air on the gravel stages and only drifted away very slowly. The following WRC cars found themselves driving virtually blind on parts of the challenging stages. 

 

This made quick times virtually impossible. Seb, in contrast, had clear vision. However, this advantage of starting first was countered by a disadvantage, which also goes hand-in-hand with opening the route: a lack of grip. The gravel was covered with a layer of fine dust, which first had to be swept off the road. “That was really very slippery, particularly towards the end of the stages,” said Ogier. “However, I always did my best, so am happy.”

 

Volkswagen hit back on the Terra Alta special stage, which, at 35.68 kilometres, is the longest of the rally. Ogier and Latvala (“That is really hard work today, not easy!”) benefitted from an incident involving the leader at the time, Robert Kubica (Ford), who bid an early farewell to the battle at the head of the field. And the rest of the opposition, particularly Mads Østberg (Citroën), also lost a lot of time. Volkswagen got firmly back on track on stage five, which featured short asphalt sections as well as gravel roads. It remains to be seen whether the dust will continue to be an issue in the afternoon. Whatever happens, Volkswagen has already laid a solid foundation for the afternoon loop.

 

Result after SS 5:

 

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 44:52.2 min.

2. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) + 0.8 sec.

3. Ott Tänak (Ford) + 2.5 sec.

4. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) + 9.7 sec.

5. Mads Østberg (Citroën) + 17.3 sec.


Day 1 in Spain.

Thursday, 22.10.2015


Rally Spain opening day. The video.


Images Opening Day (19)


Day review

Ogier fastest at the foot of Montjuïc.

While the setting sun disappeared behind Montjuïc, the first challenge of the Rally Spain got underway at the foot of Barcelona's “own mountain” for the WRC elite. 3.2 kilometres on the site of the 1929 World Exhibition and the 1992 Summer Olympic Games were on the itinerary. And the Spain winner of the previous two years was the fastest on the first special stage in Catalonia: Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier (3:37.8 minutes) clinched the best time with ease.

The second-fastest time went to Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville (+ 2.1 seconds), Ogier's team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (+2.9 seconds) got the third-fastest time. The third Volkswagen driver in the pack – Jari-Matti Latvala – achieved seventh place with his time. The course at the foot of Montjuïc demanded a great deal of the drivers. Fast changes of directions on short asphalt straights were interspersed with short but slippery gravel sections. Four “donuts” to be completed also provided plenty of entertainment for the numerous spectators at the track. Tomorrow will be another action-packed day. And it will be largely dusty: The drivers will take on the gravel stages.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

„A truly fantastic backdrop.“

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“A really good start for us, against a truly fantastic backdrop. We had a very clean drive on the opening stage in Barcelona, and I am very happy with the time. However, the rally really gets going tomorrow, and we will have to be at our best if we are to come out on top again. As always, that is our goal.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“Others focussed more on getting their tyres up to temperature before the short special stage at the start of the Rally Spain than we did. That is probably why we lost a bit of time compared to the leaders. However, the serious business does not begin until tomorrow, with eight special stages scheduled. That is what we are concentrating on.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“The special stage on Montjuïc is definitely one of the best starts on the WRC calendar. Thousands of passionate fans and an outstanding backdrop always give us drivers goosebumps. After this emotional start, I am looking forward to the first real special stages of the Rally Spain on Friday. Not a bad start – from a sporting point of view too.”


Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport-Direktor
“The backdrop was spot on, the reception given by the spectators was spot on, the result was spot on – the Rally Spain got off to a perfect start for Volkswagen. This evening has made everyone hungry for more Rally Spain. We are really looking forward to this unique rally, with its mixture of gravel and asphalt. After this special stage on Montjuïc, I believe the fans feel exactly the same way.”


Classification after 1 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3m 37.8s  
2 N. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +2.1s  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene +2.9s  
4 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +3.3s  
5 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak +3.9s  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +4.7s  
7 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +5.2s  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +5.4s  
9 D. Sordo / M. Marti +6.4s  
10 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel +6.5s  

Number of the day

10

 

“Ten Euros say I will win.” This sentence came from the lips of Andreas Mikkelsen before the three Volkswagen drivers went head to head on the simulator for the official World Rally Championship game “WRC 5”, which has recently been released. The bet was accepted: Mikkelsen (2:57.767 minutes) was the clear winner of both attempts at the five-kilometre “Els Guiamets” stage, finishing over a second ahead of his team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala (both 2:59.098 minutes).


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Bring it on.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The Rally Spain is one of my favourite rallies on the calendar – not only because Julien and I have won here on the last two occasions. Switching from gravel to asphalt at the end of the long opening day makes this round of the WRC particularly challenging. As a driver, you have to adapt very quickly from a softer gravel set-up to a far firmer asphalt set-up, with which the car reacts far more directly and generates a log more grip. As such, the Shakedown is not so meaningful here, because we will be underway with a completely different car as of Saturday. We are well prepared and the Polo is running perfectly – bring it on.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“It is important to find the right set-up for asphalt and gravel at this rally, with its changes in surface. All in all, the Polo felt good. It was not particularly easy this morning, as parts of the route were really slippery. As such, I tended to hold back a bit. But I am happy – the Shakedown went to plan. I am now looking forward to the rally.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The main goal here in Spain is to secure third place in the championship. I would love to be able to drive without any tactical necessities at the Rally Great Britain in three weeks’ time. However, depending on the situation, I could go on the attack here in Spain. I have not yet written off second place in the World Championship. Today’s Shakedown was a nice warm-up, which passed without any problems for us. As far as the characteristics of the route are concerned, this was not particularly representative of what we can expect over the coming days. Whatever happens, we are well prepared.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Spain is a little bit special. Only here do you get this switch from gravel to asphalt. Today’s Shakedown was also a mixture of these two surfaces – although it was not a typical Rally Spain stage. It served more as a final performance test for the cars today, as well as a warm-up for the drivers, to ensure they are in rally mode in time for tonight’s opening stage. We are happy. All the systems are running perfectly and the entire team is ready for the Rally Spain. After tasting success in 2013 and 2014, we want to show what we are capable of again. I think we are in for an exciting Rally Spain.”


Shakedown report

All systems running perfectly.

 

Warm-up done, bring on the Rally Spain: Volkswagen opened its campaign at the penultimate race of this season’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in good form. Three-time world champions* Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were the fastest pair in a Polo R WRC in “Free Practice”, clocking the second-fastest time overall. Their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were sixth fastest, while Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene ended the Shakedown ahead of the Rally Spain in seventh place.

 

However, the 2.97-kilometre circuit near the Service Park in Salou was not particularly representative of the kind of challenges the teams will face over the course of the rally. The variation between Friday’s gravel stages and the asphalt stages on Saturday and Sunday make the Rally Spain a unique event on the WRC calendar. As well as the drivers having to adapt their driving style from gravel to asphalt mode, the mechanics have just 75 minutes on Friday evening to basically convert a rally car to a racing car.

 

Before then, the Rally Spain opens with a spectacular special stage in Barcelona on Thursday evening. The capital of Catalonia hosts the dramatic first act – the 3.2-kilometre stage at the foot of Montjuïc – from 18:08 local time.

 

Shakedown result: 

 

1. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) 2m 07.5s

2. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2m 07.7s

3. Robert Kubica (Ford) 2m 07.8s

4. Ott Tänak (Ford) 2m 08.6s

5. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) 2m 08.8s

6. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 2m 09.5s

7. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 2m 09.7s

8. Elfyn Evans (Ford) 2m 10.3s

9. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 2m 10.3s

10. Mads Østberg (Citroën) 2m 10.5s 

 

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


Opening day in Spain.

Friday, 16.10.2015


One of a kind: Volkswagen takes on a mixture of asphalt and gravel at the Rally Spain.

All eyes on the surface – Volkswagen faces a unique challenge when it lines up with the Polo R WRC at the Rally Spain (22–25 October). The twelfth and penultimate round of this season’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is the only one on the WRC calendar, at which the drivers go up against the clock on both asphalt and gravel. Two men, in particular, have proven to be experts in this field: reigning champions and champions elect* Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F). Last year, the two Frenchmen wrapped up their second World Championship title on the Iberian Peninsula, with one round still to come. In 2013, when Volkswagen won the Manufacturers’ Championship, the winners in Spain were once again Ogier/Ingrassia. Second place in a Volkswagen one-two in both years went to Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), who are currently second in the World Championship and arrive in Spain on the back of their recent victory on Corsica. Success at the Rally France on Corsica saw Latvala/Anttila extend their advantage in the overall standings over the third Volkswagen duo of Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) to 34 points. Should Latvala/Anttila retain at least 28 points of their lead on Mikkelsen/Fløene, who are third in the World Championship, they would be guaranteed to end the season as runners-up in the overall standings.

 

“The Rally Spain is unique. We must ensure the Polo is ideally set up for both gravel and asphalt,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “This not only means that the driver and co-driver must be wide awake and able to adapt well to the changing conditions, but also puts the entire team to the test – particularly the mechanics. We have done a good job of switching from gravel to asphalt for the past two years, and have been successful in Spain. This year, we are obviously hoping to make it a hat-trick of wins. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila dominated on Corsica and travel to Spain brimming with confidence. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were unfortunate at their home rally – it goes without saying that they are now hungry to bounce back with what would be their eighth win of the season. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene have not yet given up on second place in the overall standings. It will certainly be exciting.”

 

New this year – 23 special stages, 51 per cent unfamiliar terrain

 

Asphalt, gravel, asphalt, asphalt – this sequence of road surfaces is what awaits the elite of the WRC on Thursday and the three subsequent days of rallying. And that is not the only challenge: the 51st staging of the Rally Spain features a total of 23 special stages – seven more than in 2014 – with 331.25 kilometres against the clock. The driver/co-driver crews must write new pace notes for 51 per cent of the route.

 

A wide range of challenges – the 2015 Rally Spain

 

The Rally Spain poses a wide range of challenges to the drivers and co-drivers. Like last year, the 3.2-kilometre “Barcelona” special stage will be held on Montjuïc on Thursday evening. The site of the International Exposition in 1929 and the 1992 Summer Olympics will attract spectators aplenty when the WRC elite open the Rally Spain on the narrow route in the Catalonian metropolis. In contrast, Friday is set to be a dusty affair, as the itinerary features the first of the gravel stages – all of which are covered with a fine layer of gravel, more of which will be swept off the road with every World Rally Car that passes. Typical: the “Terra Alta” special stage, with its five changes of surface and central asphalt section. At 35.68 kilometres, it is also the longest stage at the Rally Spain.

 

A lot of feeling and good line selection – the key to success at the Rally Spain

 

After giving the World Rally Cars a complete overhaul to switch to their asphalt set-up, the teams then face a total 199.45 kilometres against the clock on Saturday and Sunday. Parts of last year’s “Riudecanyes” stage will this time be tackled in the opposite direction on “Duesaigües”. The second running of this stage will also form the Power Stage, on which extra points towards the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship are up for grabs. The rally has made the two roundabouts on this stage famous throughout Spain. It goes without saying that the drivers must pull off a crowd-pleasing donut on one of these. Narrow, winding downhill sections also define this famous stage. The Rally Spain demands a lot of feel for the car on the gravel sections and a good sense for the perfect line on the winding asphalt roads, some of which are reminiscent of classic racetracks.

 

One-twos, titles, milestones – happy stomping ground in Spain

 

Two wins from two appearances, the first one-two in the history of the Polo R WRC, the Manufacturer’s title with one round to go in 2013, and the Drivers’/Co-Drivers’ Championships for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia last year – the asphalt and gravel roads of the Rally Spain have proven to be a happy stomping ground for Volkswagen. Last year, Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila pulled off a spectacular tenth one-two with the 318-hp four-wheel drive car from Wolfsburg. Coming into this year’s Rally Spain, the three Volkswagen crews now have a total of 16 one-twos to their name.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“We are all hungry to win.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“When I think of the Rally Spain, the success we have enjoyed for the last two years obviously springs to mind. In 2014, Julien and I won to secure our second Drivers’ title In 2013, we helped Volkswagen wrap up the Manufacturers’ Championship with one rally still to come. Those scenes of jubilation and the big smiles on the faces of everyone in the team – you simply don’t forget memories like that in a hurry. This year we want to have cause for celebration again. Especially after what was a disappointing Rally France for Julien and me. However, it will be far from easy. Over half of the special stages at the Rally Spain are new, so we are all starting from scratch. Then there is also the added challenge of the different surfaces on the three days of the rally. In 2014 it was a close battle between Jari-Matti Latvala and me. I expect that to be the case again this time. Although we have already won the World Championship, it goes without saying that we will still be pushing hard. I think that is what makes our team so special. Everyone gives 100 per cent and we are all hungry to win.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The Rally Spain is one of my favourite rallies. Last year Sébastien Ogier and I had a very close battle. I pushed hard right to the finish, and won the closing Power Stage. Unfortunately I missed out on victory by just over eleven seconds. I was not 100 per cent in gravel mode at the start of the rally. I had focussed more on the asphalt set-up, so won most of my special stages on the final day of the rally. However, you must also be set up for gravel on the opening day in Spain if you want to be right up there. I have learned from that: I now know how I need to set up the Polo and that I have to drive cleanly on these sections. The surface on the gravel stages is relatively hard, but it is covered by a fine, loose layer. Victory on Corsica has definitely given me plenty of confidence. There are just two rallies remaining this year – and I want to be in contention to win them both.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“This year there are a few new special stages at the Rally Spain. That suits me. I like working out new sections, and have always been fast on them in the past. However, one thing has not changed at the Rally Spain: the first day will be on gravel – with the exception of the Barcelona stage on Thursday – and the remaining two days on asphalt. It is always tricky to adjust from gravel to asphalt within a day. Hopefully Ola and I will find our rhythm quickly. Last year a puncture on Saturday cost me over two minutes. Without that, I could have been on the podium. As it was, I had to settle for seventh. I am yet to get through the Rally Spain without making a mistake, so a flawless rally is definitely my goal for this year. A podium would be nice too, but it goes without saying that I would like to be in with a shout of winning. Jari-Matti Latvala’s victory on Corsica increased the gap to him and second place in the overall standings. There are still two rallies to come though, and I am obviously not going to give up. However, I will not put myself under any undue pressure or reflect too much on the situation. Ideally, I will finish ahead of him and get a good result.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Spain is unique. We must ensure the Polo is ideally set up for both gravel and asphalt. This not only means that the driver and co-driver must be wide awake and able to adapt well to the changing conditions, but also puts the entire team to the test – particularly the mechanics. We have done a good job of switching from gravel to asphalt for the past two years, and have been successful in Spain. This year, we are obviously hoping to make it a hat-trick of wins. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila dominated on Corsica and travel to Spain brimming with confidence. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were unfortunate at their home rally – it goes without saying that they are now hungry to bounce back with what would be their eighth win of the season. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene have not yet given up on second place in the overall standings. It will certainly be exciting.”


Background

Did you know …

… Carlos Sainz won his home rally twice? “El Matador” won in 1992 and 1995. At his side: Luís Moya, now a member of the Volkswagen Motorsport team.

 

… Sebastián Salvadó won the inaugural Rally Spain? The Spaniard was victorious at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo in 1957.

 

… the first time the Rally Spain was not won by a Spaniard was in 1983? The Italian pair of Adertico Vudafieri and Tiziano Siviero won in a Lancia Rally 037.

 

… the Rally Spain is being held for the 51st time this year, and the 23rd time as a round of the World Rally Championship? The event, which is run by the Reial Automòbil Club de Catalunya (RACC) first featured on the WRC calendar in 1991. Only once – in 1994 – did the Rally Spain only count towards the 2-Litre World Rally Cup.

 

… the Rally Spain was held on the Costa Brava between 1991 and 2004? Back then, the rally headquarters were in the party stronghold of Lloret de Mar. However, there has also been plenty on offer in the way of leisure activities since 2005: the headquarters, media centre and service park are housed in the grounds of the PortAventura Resort.

 

… France is the most successful nation at the Rally Spain? Since the rally first appeared on the WRC calendar, it has been won by a Frenchman on 16 occasions. Sébastien Loeb alone won eight times between 2005 and 2012. Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier contributed two victories to the French total in 2013 and 2014.

 

… the body shell of the Polo R WRC is made in Pamplona? Last year, 150 employees from the Volkswagen factory in Pamplona made the 400-kilometre journey to watch their three Polo R WRCs in action, courtesy of an invite from Volkswagen Spain.


Number for the Rally

4,044

The mechanics could produce a record-breaking performance at the Rally Spain. During the 75-minute service on Friday evening – the longest of the season – they will convert the Polo R WRC from its gravel configuration to the asphalt set-up. For an idea of the sheer effort required, look no further than the number of individual components that must be replaced. Per car, the mechanics must swap 13 modules, consisting of 1,348 individual parts – that is a total of 4,044 parts for all three Polo R WRC.