Rally Italy 2014

 

Tensational: Volkswagen Motorsport with tenth consecutive rally win.

 

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are the delighted winners of Rally Italy. And the French duo have set a new record: their sixth win of the season was the tenth win in a row for Volkswagen Motorsport and was also the team’s 16th victory overall in the World Rally Championship. And here’s another impressive figure: in Sardinia, Séb and Julien took the top spot on the winners’ rostrum for the 20th time since the start of their careers. The defending champions driving a Polo R WRC clinched the rally win following a thrilling duel with their teammates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), who ultimately finished in third place.

 

The third Volkswagen team of Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) likewise put in a top performance in Sardinia, finishing the sixth event of the WRC season in fourth place and succeeding in winning the final Power Stage for the first time, ahead of their teammates Latvala/Anttila and Ogier/Ingrassia. It was also the first time that Volkswagen succeeded in seizing all of the bonus points up for grabs in the Power Stage. Volkswagen is now the ‘half-time champion’ in all three WRC categories. Ogier and Ingrassia are at the top of the drivers’/co-drivers’ leader board with a 33-point lead over Latvala/Anttila in second place. Andreas Mikkelsen is currently fourth. In the manufacturers’ standings, Volkswagen has racked up a lead of 118 points.

 

The WRC front-runners pitched against the current runners-up – the battle for the top spot in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) was also played out at the beginning of Rally Italy. True to the Volkswagen motto of ‘May the best man win’, which rules out any pecking order being stipulated, the two teammates engaged in quite a battle. Latvala took the lead and Ogier piled on the pressure. The spectacular duel was, however, brought to an end when Latvala got into a spin – of all things, during the 13th special stage of the rally. Latvala clipped a rock and damaged a tyre, which then needed changing. While Ogier celebrated his 13th win in the service of Volkswagen with a comfortable lead, Latvala did battle with Mad Østberg (Citroën) for second place right up to the final stage. Latvala/Anttila achieved their 43rd podium finish in total by finishing in third place – it was their eleventh podium finish in 19 rallies with Volkswagen.

Sébastien Ogier: “I’m absolutely delighted! This win was definitely one of the hardest fought wins of my career. Right from the start here in Sardinia, Julien and I were both driving at the limit. With the heat here and the extremely slippery track conditions at the start, we had to take a lot of risks in order to put Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila under pressure. This ultimately paid off, as we won.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala: “I’m not really all that happy with having finished in third place. We were in the lead from Friday and were in with a good chance of winning outright here. But unfortunately, we got into a spin on Saturday, which resulted in a flat tyre, and that stymied all our hopes of winning. We also had a few minor problems along the way. We tried to catch up with Mads Østberg on Sunday, but he had too much of a lead on us. We did at least collect two bonus points during the Power Stage. Our pace in Sardinia was undoubtedly very good. The situation obviously hasn’t got any easier in the WRC, but we still have seven more rallies to go and we need to now look ahead.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen: “Our situation at the start of the day was easy to handle. We had some way to go to draw even with third place ahead of us, while our lead on fifth place was even bigger. So we spent the entire morning making sure we went easy on the tyres, to save them for the Power Stage. This tactic paid off, in spite of a few minor mistakes that we made. All the same, we did enough for me to score my first ever Power Stage victory, which is fantastic! Overall, I’m very happy with how Rally Italy went. We achieved what we set out to do.”


Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed their 20th WRC victory. The video.


Rally Italy 2014: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:02:37.8    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 4:04:00.9 +1:23.1  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:04:10.6 +1:32.8  
4 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 4:05:17.1 +2:39.3  
5 E. Evans / D. Barritt 4:07:19.6 +4:41.8  
6 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 4:08:43.1 +6:05.3  
7 H. Solberg / I. Minor 4:09:53.6 +7:15.8  
8 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 4:14:56.8 +12:19.0  
9 L. Bertelli / M. Dotta (WRC 2) 4:17:59.9 +15:22.1  
10 K. Al Qassimi / C. Patterson 4:19:27.1 +16:49.3  

Impressions

The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2014 Rally Italy a second time around: every single day and every single special stage.

 

Click through each day’s picture gallery and watch video clips of each stage. The whole thing is rounded off with all of the pre-event reports and interviews. Happy reading!

Sunday, 08.06.2014


Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed their 20th WRC victory on Sardinia. Rally Italy. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (16)
16:45 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after 17 of 17 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:02:37.8    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 4:04:00.9 +1:23.1  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:04:10.6 +1:32.8  
4 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 4:05:17.1 +2:39.3  
5 E. Evans / D. Barritt 4:07:19.6 +4:41.8  
6 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 4:08:43.1 +6:05.3  
7 H. Solberg / I. Minor 4:09:53.6 +7:15.8  
8 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 4:14:56.8 +12:19.0  
9 L. Bertelli / M. Dotta (WRC 2) 4:17:59.9 +15:22.1  
10 K. Al Qassimi / C. Patterson 4:19:27.1 +16:49.3  

15:40 (CEST)

Wet end.

The presentation ceremony ended with a dip in the harbour at Alghero for the Volkswagen Motorsport team.

Since the Rally Italy’s move from Olbia to Alghero, the Service Park is now located on a harbour. However, instead of freight ships and ferries, it is sailing boats that provide the majestic backdrop. And instead of a rather dubious broth, it is now relatively clear water rippling away just a few metres from the podium.

And so it was that Franҫois-Xavier “FX” Demaison, the engineer behind the victorious Polo R WRC, ended up in the harbour after the presentation ceremony. While driver Jari-Matti Latvala and fellow engineer Gerard Jan de Jongh were largely responsible for his refreshing dip, winners Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia soon led the way for those willing to hurl themselves into the cool water.

A few seconds later, the majority of the team were to be found in the Alghero harbour. “After today’s heat, that was the perfect way to cool down,” grinned Sébastien Ogier, once he had his feet back on solid ground.


15:30 (CEST)

This win was one of the toughest of my career.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I am overjoyed! This win was definitely one of the toughest of my career. Right from day one, Julien and I have pushed ourselves to the very limit here on Sardinia. In this heat, and with the extremely slippery conditions on the roads, we had to risk everything to put Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila under pressure. It ultimately paid off, and we won. We may lead the World Championship at the halfway point in the season, but that is no reason to relax: Jari-Matti is on top form at the moment. However, we also have an eye on the others. Mads Østberg was impressive, and congratulations to Andreas Mikkelsen for his win on the Power Stage!”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I can’t really be too happy with third place. We led since Friday and were in with a good chance of winning here. Unfortunately Saturday’s skid and the resulting puncture dashed any hopes of victory. We also had a few other minor problems. We tried to catch Mads Østberg on Sunday, but his lead was too big. However, we did pick up two bonus points on the Power Stage. As far as pace is concerned, we were very good here on Sardinia. There is no doubting that. This has obviously not made the situation in the championship any easier, but there are still seven rallies to go, and we must look ahead to those.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“We were in an easy position at the start of today. There was a big gap to third place, and an even bigger gap to fifth place behind us. We spent the entire morning concentrating on saving the tyres as much as possible for the Power Stage. This paid dividends, although we did make a few minor mistakes. Despite this, I managed to win my first Power Stage. Awesome! All in all, I am very happy with the Rally Italy. We achieved what we set out to achieve. I am happy to have Ola Fløene back at my side as co-driver. He immediately did a great job. That was my third fourth place in a row. I would like to go at least one better next time out. I am confident we can achieve that. The only way is up now for Ola and me.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“Respect to the entire team, and congratulations to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. They not only repeated last year’s victory here in Italy, but also ensured that Volkswagen will lead all three competitions in the World Rally Championship at the halfway point of the season. Behind this success lies a lot of hard work put in by the entire team on-site, in Wolfsburg and in Hannover. I would also like to pay a big compliment to Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. They led the rally for a long time and were involved in a spectacular duel with Sébastien Ogier. Unfortunately a skid brought that battle to a premature end. However, I am sure there is more of that to come over the rest of the season. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene produced an outstanding display and proved that they belong among the best in the world. We will continue to work hard to ensure that the Polo R WRC and our drivers remain the ones to beat.”


14:40 (CEST)

“I really zeroed in on this stage.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen picks up the three bonus points on the Power Stage for the first time.

 

The Power Stage is usually the quarry of Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1). The World Champion regularly leaves these special stages with the three extra points on offer for the fastest time. Not so on Sardinia. This time Ogier had to settle for third place behind team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2). “You always give the impression that winning the Power Stage is a piece of cake for me,“ said overall winner Ogier in response to questions from those clearly finding it hard to comprehend.

 

“Firstly, Andreas and Jari-Matti produced a perfect drive this time. And secondly, I did not want to risk everything. For me, it was ultimately more important to win the rally. But somehow nobody seems to believe me.”


Andreas Mikkelsen earned a huge round of applause from the fans for his Power Stage win. “It is a good feeling to beat my two team-mates,” the Norwegian admitted. His tactic: “We drove the Power Stage as a normal special stage in the morning. I made some corrections to my pace notes and really zeroed in on this stage.” Mikkelsen was quicker than both Ogier and Latvala the first time they tackled the stage. Only Mads Østberg (Citroën) was better. However, Mikkelsen’s fellow Norwegian was on a different tyre strategy. While all the Volkswagen drivers started out with five hard tyres on Sunday, Østberg took two of the softer compound with him.


”I then looked after my tyres on the next two stages,” Mikkelsen explained. “That made sure they were still in very good condition for the Power Stage.” And this strategy worked out perfectly. Not only was Østberg left wanting on the Power Stage, but Mikkelsen was also a second quicker than Latvala and 2.5 seconds faster than Ogier. Together with the points for finishing fourth overall, Mikkelsen leaves Alghero with 15 World Championship points.


”I took too long to find my rhythm this morning,” said Latvala, summing up his day. “And then there just weren’t enough kilometres against the clock to reel in Mads Østberg.” The Finn had to settle for third place in the end. “That is obviously not what I expected, but the duel with Sébastien Ogier is still wide open.”


13:30 (CEST)

Volkswagen Motorsport lined up in the World Rally Championship with a completely new car last year: the Polo R WRC showed on its debut in Monte Carlo that it was a force to be reckoned with, and went on to help Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia to the long-awaited maiden WRC title in their first season with Volkswagen Motorsport.


And the winning car is once again unstoppable in 2014: with six wins from six rallies, the Polo R WRC is the car to beat at the moment. The powerhouse from Hannover boasts an impressive record: 16 of a possible 19 victories since its first outing in January 2013. That is a win rate of 84 per cent – today’s number of the day.


13:00 (CEST)

Séb and Julien win the Rally Italy –
All the Power Stage points go to Volkswagen.

A successful weekend ended with a crowning moment: “repeat offenders” Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia won the Rally Italy for the second time for Volkswagen Motorsport. It was their 20th WRC victory overall.


Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikka Anttila finished third behind Mads Østberg (Citroën). Andreas Mikkelsen and his new co-driver Ola Fløene ended the rally in a fine fourth place overall.

The cherry on the cake was the result of the closing Power Stage (Cala Flumini): the full quota of bonus points went to Volkswagen Motorsport. Andreas and Ola won the stage to score an extra three points towards the World Championship. Two bonus points were the reward for Jari-Matti and Miikka, who were just one second slower over the nine-kilometre stage. Overall winners Séb Ogier and Julien Ingrassia also picked up a bonus point, finishing third on the final stage.


11:00 (CEST)

Victory in their sights.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are just nine kilometres away from victory at the Rally Italy. Barring any mishaps, the two Volkswagen men are within touching distance of repeating last year’s win on Sardinia.

The penultimate special stage (Tergu–Osilo) once again went to their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. Mads Østberg (Citroën) lost some time, with the gap now down to 17 seconds.

The final Power Stage offers the Volkswagen drivers another opportunity to score valuable bonus points towards the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ championships.


10:15 (CEST)

Stage win for Latvala –

Østberg hangs on to second place.

We now have just two special stages to go after completing Castelsardo – and Jari-Matti Latvala was the quickest man on the latest 14-kilometre section. However, the Finn’s chances of snatching second place overall are slim, as Citroën driver Mads Østberg defended his runner-up spot with a time only slightly slower than Latvala.

Sébastien Ogier was third fastest and continues to lead the field with a comfortable advantage of over a minute. Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen is a safe fourth.


08:30 (CEST)

Séb on course for win.

The World Champion could take a relaxed approach this morning. Sébastien Ogier, who leads second-placed Mads Østberg (Citroën) by a comfortable 1:25 minutes, prioritised looking after the Polo R WRC and his tyres on Sunday’s opening stage (Cala Flumini). Østberg clocked the fastest time, ahead of Volkswagen drivers Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala.

A spectacular final-day charge could still see the latter snatch second place, if he can make up 24.5 seconds to catch Østberg. “I was probably a bit cautious at the start of this stage,” explained Latvala afterwards. The Finn has three stages left to reel in the Norwegian in the Citroën.


Sunday: the special stages of the third day.

06:05 (CEST)

Saturday, 07.06.2014


Sébastien in the lead, Jari-Matti falls back into third place after suffering tyre damage. The second leg of the Rally Italy. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (14)
22:20 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after 13 of 17 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:30:15.8    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:31:56.0 +1:40.2  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:32:17.3 +2:01.5  
4 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 3:32:53.6 +2:37.8  
5 E. Evans / D. Barritt 3:34:40.1 +4:24.3  
6 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 3:35:41.9 +5:26.1  
7 H. Solberg / I. Minor 3:36:25.4 +6:09.6  
8 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 3:42:19.5 +12:03.7  
9 K. Al Qassimi / C. Patterson 3:45:21.0 +15:05.2  
10 L. Bertelli / M. Dotta (WRC 2) 3:46:23.9 +16:08.1  

20:45 (CEST)

“Were now in a great position.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“What a rally day! I think Jari-Matti and I have put on a good show for the fans. We both drove at the limit. Jari put in a fantastic time on the first stage, after that I was able to make up some time. At the end, when Julien and I were informed that he had lost time we stopped taking as many risks. We're now in a great position to win the rally again. But there are four difficult stages scheduled for tomorrow, without service – that's why we will be concentrating fully on the final day.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“We need to look ahead: The rally isn't over yet and we are still in with a chance of taking back second place. Of course I am also disappointed as we are no longer in with a chance of winning. The day didn't go to plan. On the second stage we lost time through a false alarm due to a defect sensor. When we went to stop, the warning that the water was at a critically high temperature disappeared and we were able to keep going. In the afternoon I skidded sideways at the start of the 60-kilometre special stage, hit a stone and damaged one of my rear wheels. We lost about two minutes to Sébastien and Julien while we changed the tyre.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Our plan didn't quite work out today. We wanted to set our own pace, drive our own rally. If that had been fast enough to beat Mads Østberg, great. If not, never mind. What we really wanted was to drive well and finish in the top four. We hit a large stone on Special Stage 12 and damaged one of the front dampers. As a result we were no longer able to attack on the final 60-kilometre stage and instead tried to contain the damage as much as we could. Which we managed. It's down to team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala's bad luck that we are still within reach of the podium. We're taking things as they come. But the same will be true tomorrow: We aren't going to risk everything to attack.”


20:30 (CEST)

Jari-Matti facing an extremely difficult task.

Latvala wants to fight for second place on Sunday.

It was clear to see just how disappointed he was. “It was my fault,” said Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) as he drove into the service park in Alghero harbour. When he left this morning he was in the lead, and now he returned at sunset in only third place.


“There was a large stone on the middle of the track in a bend. You had to drive right on the inside to get past it. Which I did. But I was a little bit too fast, which meant my car lost control,” said the Finn, describing the crucial moment on Special Stage “Monte Lerno 2”. The tyres didn't survive the harsh impact. “We changed the tyre, which took about two minutes.”
As a result, Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) is the new leader; he had already closed in on his team-mate after two best times. “I spent the whole day trying to put pressure on Jari-Matti,” said the Frenchman, who was hindered by the lack of team orders. “Still, it would have been very difficult to catch him if he hadn't made that mistake.”

He now has an advantage of around 1.40 minutes over Mads Østberg (Citroën) going into the final leg on Sunday. “That should be enough;” Ogier wants to approach the final four stages with a mixture of concentration and ease.


Jari-Matti Latvala on the other hand is facing an extremely difficult task. He started the closing 60 kilometres of special stage trailing Mads Østberg (Citroën) by about 22 seconds. “It will be very difficult to catch him, but I want to at least put him under pressure.” Otherwise there is still the Power Stage, where additional WRC points will be handed out. “I definitely want to win that. I need every point in the battle for the WRC title,” said Latvala.


The podium is no longer a real target for Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). The Norwegian lost a lot of time after destroying a shock absorber on a stone. “It wasn't there on the first pass of this special stage,” said Mikkelsen without a shadow of a doubt. He is now in fourth place in the intermediate standings, about 36 seconds behind Latvala.


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) is still fourth. Special Stage “Monte Lerno” that got the adrenalin pumping for his team-mates went smoothly for the Norwegian. “During the special stage I took a sip about every ten kilometres. So I was in optimum condition from start to finish.”


It wasn't only the SMS-induced confusion that made this not an option for Julien Ingrassia. “I have so much to read out that I don't have time to drink.”


20:15 (CEST)

He really put his foot down today: World Champion Sébastien Ogier got three best times and snatched the overall lead at the Rally Italy. In particular, it was today's “Monster Special Stage” Monte Lerno, which was driven twice and is extremely long and demanding, that seemed to suit the Frenchman. The man from Gap (France) was the quickest driver on both passes. In the second run Séb took a good 36 minutes to complete the section that is almost 60 kilometres long – the longest section of the season. That works out as an average speed of 96.85 km/h. An average of almost 100 – and on winding gravel tracks that are littered with crests and rocks and aren't much wider than a country lane. Reason enough to make this firecracker of a speed today's number of the day.


19:40 (CEST)

Jari-Matti really unlucky –
Séb takes the lead.

Jari-Matti was so unlucky: The Finn was leading as he headed into the day's final special stage, which covers almost 60 kilometres, but was forced to stop his Polo R WRC shortly after the start when a stone damaged a rim. It took more than two minutes to change the wheel. “It was my fault, I swerved the rear of the car in a rut and then we hit a stone and the rim was trashed,” explained Latvala, visibly dejected, at the finish. Team-mate Sébastien Ogier has taken the lead as a result and heads into the third leg tomorrow with a comfortable lead of 1:40 minutes over the new second-placed driver Mads Østberg (Citroën). He was also worried about the tyres, as he admitted at the finish line: “We tried to protect the tyres throughout the stage. When I heard about Jari-Matti's bad luck during the stage, I reduced my speed.”

At least Volkswagen Motorsport can still achieve a double podium result; Latvala is third in the overall standings, followed by team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.


18:00 (CEST)

Team battle in full swing:
Séb closes in on Jari-Matti.

The flying Frenchman is piling on the pressure: Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia made up more time on the penultimate special stage (Monte Olia 2) of the day and reduced the gap between them and their leading team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila by a further 5.4 seconds. The gap now stands at only 12.3 seconds. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene are still in fourth place, but couldn't keep up with the pace of Mads Østberg (Citroën) in third place. However, with a deficit of 15.1 seconds in the overall standings, third place is still within reach.

Up next is the second pass of the “Monster Stage” Monte Lerno, covering just less than 60 kilometres. Will Séb snatch the lead?


15:00 (CEST)

Jump and drink.

The Special Stage “Monte Lerno” demands a lot of the drivers in more than one way.

At just under 60 kilometres, it is not only the longest special stage of the Rally Italy, but probably also of the entire 2014 World Championship. The Special Stage “Monte Lerno”, that will be driven twice today, also contains “Micky's Jump” - one of the highest leaps possible in a rally car.


“The crest at Micky's Jump is very steep, and the course isn't exactly straight,” described Volkswagen Motorsport junior Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). “That's why unlike in Finland, you can't take this jump at full throttle. Otherwise you will land somewhere off course or damage your car. I take it in third gear.”


However, the approach is taken at high speed in fifth gear. To keep the car from landing on its nose after the leap, the braking manoeuvre required needs to be exactly right. “Just before the take-off, you put your foot down again. Then you have a stable position in the air,” added Mikkelsen.


The length of the special stage also requires special preparations, particularly in temperatures above 30 degrees. It is predicted that the stage will take around 40 minutes to complete. “I'll have a drink before the stage gets underway, which I never usually do,” revealed World Champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1). Ogier wants to see how it goes before deciding whether, like team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2), he will take the occasional sip from the drinks pouch attached to the back of his seat during the stage. “I'll look for one or two straights where I can have a drink,” confirmed Latvala in contrast.


The “tyre whisperer”, Sébastien Ogier is hoping for something completely different on the monster Special Stage of “Monte Lerno”. “60 kilometres are very hard on the tyres. That should be to my advantage.” After all, last year's winner wants to reduce the 17 second gap between him and team-mate Latvala.


14:00 (CEST)

“Over”, but not out.

How an SMS can cause brief confusion.

Julien Ingrassia saw the funny side. “That's probably the first time that an SMS may have decided a rally,” said Sébastien Ogier's (Polo R WRC #1) co-driver heading into the lunchtime service on Saturday. About an hour before that, the SMS mentioned caused plenty of confusion in the cockpit of the two Frenchmen.


The whole story, from the beginning: About 30 kilometres into Special Stage “Monte Lerno”, the cooling water temperature in Jari-Matti Latvala's car (Polo R WRC #2) reached critical values. “The red warning light came on,” described the Finn. “And when that comes on, you're meant to turn off the engine.”


The first thing Latvala did was switch off the air circulation system (in technical terms, anti-lag system or ALS), which ruled out the once notorious “turbo lag” when accelerating, but also puts extreme thermal stress on the engine. “We couldn't stop at that point because the track was too narrow, so I drove on slowly,” said Latvala.


At the same time, team-mate Ogier who was three minutes ahead received an SMS on a display in the cockpit that said “LAT over heating”. However, because the screen can only display eight letters at a time, the message initially displayed in the cockpit only read “LAT over”. “We thought it meant that Jari-Matti had retired,” admitted the Frenchman, who slightly reduced his speed as a result.

A few kilometres further back, the warning light on the dashboard of Latvala's car went out just as unexpectedly as it had come on – evidently the water temperature had cooled down again. “So we kept on driving, but without ALS.” That meant reduced engine power. “At one point this almost caused me to slip off the track because a drift didn't work,” revealed Latvala.
When he tried switching on the ALS again, the turbo engine of the Polo R WRC didn't seem to mind. Latvala put his foot down once again.


When this message reached Ogier/Ingrassia, the two Frenchman also upped their pace again. “Overall it might have cost me two or three seconds maximum. So it's not a big deal,” calculated Ogier. “I just hope that they won't turn out to be decisive.”
After the first loop on Saturday, Latvala still has a 17.7-second advantage over Ogier. “My mechanics will analyze the problem with the temperature, it shouldn't happen again,” said the Finn confidently ahead of the two special stages this afternoon.


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) is still fourth. Special Stage “Monte Lerno” that got the adrenalin pumping for his team-mates went smoothly for the Norwegian. “During the special stage I took a sip about every ten kilometres. So I was in optimum condition from start to finish.”


It wasn't only the SMS-induced confusion that made this not an option for Julien Ingrassia. “I have so much to read out that I don't have time to drink.”


Classification after eleven of 17 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:40:07.9    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:40:25.6 +17.7  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 2:41:18.7 +1:10.8  
4 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 2:41:28.1 +1:20.2  
5 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 2:42:29.3 +2:21.4  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt 2:43:11.3 +3:03.4  
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:43:33.5 +3:25.6  
8 H. Solberg / I. Minor 2:44:14.9 +4:07.0  
9 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 2:48:31.8 +8:23.9  
10 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini (WRC 2) 2:49:52.2 +9:44.3  

12:00 (CEST)

Marathon man Latvala doing everything right.

That was a close thing. The drivers at the Rally Italy have the first run of the 60-kilometre Monte Lerno stage behind them – and leader Jari-Matti Latvala is still first overall. However, team-mate Sébastien Ogier flew through the stage in the fastest time, taking eleven seconds off Latvala’s lead. The reason: the Finn was not able to push as hard as he would have liked, as the engine temperature in his Polo R WRC suddenly rose to 130 degrees. A dicey situation, and one that required immediate action. Latvala kept his cool and switched the engine management system into road mode. The lower maximum engine speed resulted in the temperature dropping again – and a sigh of relief in the cockpit.

Ogier has moved to within 17.7 seconds of Latvala in the overall standings. Citroën’s Mads Østberg remains third, followed by Andreas Mikkelsen.


10:30 (CEST)

Last out, first in.

The perfect start: the Volkswagen Polo R WRC dominated Saturday’s opening stage (Monte Olia 1), which saw the drivers take to the route in reverse order. Leader Jari-Matti Latvala, who was last out onto the road, set a superb fastest time of 13:31.6 minutes for the 19-kilometre stage. The Finn took 6.3 seconds out of his closest rival and team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who was second fastest and now finds himself 28.7 seconds off the lead.

Andreas Mikkelsen also made a good start to the day, finishing fourth on the stage. The Norwegian is just behind third-placed Mads Østberg (Citroën) in the overall standings.

The action continues with the 60-kilometre monster stage Monte Lerno 1 – the longest special stage on the 2014 WRC Calendar. One particular highlight for the fans is the spectacular “Mickey’s Jump”.


Saturday: the special stages of the second day.

06:05 (CEST)

Friday, 06.06.2014


21:10 (CEST)

Leaders Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila didn't even need 50 kilometres to move up from ninth place – their position after the third special stage – to the top. It took them 47.59 kilometres to be exact – today's number of the day. An impressively short distance for such a great chase, which was helped somewhat by the misfortune of Hyundai, who started the day strongly.


20:15 (CEST)

It’s that Friday feeling:
one-two lead for Jari-Matti and Séb.

The first leg couldn't have gone much better: After initial difficulties and struggling to find grip, the Volkswagen drivers continued to improve on the dusty track in Sardinia and worked their way up the field slowly but surely. The result after the ninth and final special stage on Friday: a superior one-two lead for Volkswagen Motorsport.

Jari-Matti got another best time ahead of Ogier and now has a 22.4-second lead over his team-mate. The latter put his foot on the gas once again and overtook Citroën driver Mads Østberg. Andreas Mikkelsen is hot on his heels and could snatch third place tomorrow.


19:35 (CEST)

The World Champion is back:

first best time for Séb.

He's got into the swing of things now: Sébastien Ogier secured his first best time of this year's Rally Italy on the eighth special stage (Coiluna-Crastazza 2). Just behind him were team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen.

Citroën driver Mads Østberg tried everything but just wasn't able to keep up with the pace of the Polo R WRCs and lost further seconds. Séb's best time saw him overtake Mikkelsen and he is now third overall. The Frenchman is now just 2.3 seconds behind second-placed Østberg. If he can make up this time on the ninth and final special stage of the day, Volkswagen would finish the first leg with a one-two lead.


18:35 (CEST)

Volkswagen trio march on.


Keep it up: On the seventh special stage, the second pass of the Terranova Sud section, the three Polo R WRCs finished in first, second and third – and once again no one could beat “Flying Finn” Jari-Matti Latvala's time. Sébastien Ogier was close behind and drove the second fastest time, Andreas Mikkelsen wasn't much slower, just a further 1.1 seconds behind.


Pleasing: Andreas Mikkelsen is slowly but surely eating away at the difference between him and second-placed Mads Østberg (Citroën). Only 4.3 seconds separates them now – can the Norwegian nab second place overall on the remaining two special stages of the day?


18:10 (CEST)

Polo hat-trick: First, second and third for Volkswagen.


The second pass was much better: On the sixth special stage (Terranova Nord 2) the grip level was much better than it was this morning. The Volkswagen Polo R WRCs benefited from this, despite their early starting positions, and finished in first, second and third place. Jari-Matti Latvala drove the best time and extended his lead in the overall standings to 11.6 seconds, his team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen finished in second and third place.


Latvala leads the overall standings ahead of Mads Østberg (Citroën), Mikkelsen is third, Ogier is in fourth place.


Classification after five of 17 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 56:24.4    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 56:26.6 +2.2  
3 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 56:34.5 +10.1  
4 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 56:36.2 +11.8  
5 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 56:36.7 +12.3  
6 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 56:41.0 +16.6  
7 E. Evans / D. Barritt 56:44.3 +19.9  
8 H. Solberg / I. Minor 56:52.3 +27.9  
9 K. Kruuda / M. Javeoja (WRC 2) 58:11.6 +1:47.2  
10 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini (WRC 2) 58:37.8 +2:13.4  

16:30 (CEST)

World Champion road sweeper.


The Polo R WRC drivers expect to be hindered by their start position again in the afternoon.

 

The morning of the opening leg was a real challenge. Being first out onto the route meant the three Polo R WRCs initially struggled to find sufficient grip. Only when Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) was forced to stop on the final special stage before the midday break did Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) move into the lead. His lead is currently just 2.2 seconds over Mads Ostberg (Citroën).


Latvala came through two worrying moments. “The brakes suddenly deteriorated on SS 2,” the Finn explained. “Miikka and I soon found the cause after the end of the stage – a screw to bleed the brake circuit had come loose.” Fortunately they were soon able to solve this problem using the tools on board and replacement brake fluid.


However, that was just the start. A few kilometres later Latvala missed a junction, backed up quickly – and met his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) who was running directly behind him. “Fortunately nothing happened to the two cars,” reported Mikkelsen, who is currently fourth after five special stages.


Championship leader Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1), who once again found himself in the thankless role of road sweeper for his rivals, also had a heated moment - literally. “I was right behind Mikko Hirvonen when his car set on fire,” the World Champion explained. “I immediately lent him our fire extinguisher, but unfortunately it was already too late.” The fire in Hirvonen’s car resulted in the rally being delayed by over an hour.


Ogier goes into the afternoon loop 16.6 seconds behind team-mate Latvala. Last year’s winner holds out little hope that he will improve his position when he tackles the morning’s stages for the second time this afternoon. “The competitors in smaller cars form a deep groove, which is much too narrow for a World Rally Car like the Polo R WRC,” he explained. “As such, it is down to me to create a line for my rivals behind me again.”

 

You can find all the results here.


16:10 (CEST)

Luck can change so quickly.

Plenty of action on the fifth special stage (Loelle 1): Jari-Matti Latvala takes the lead in the Rally Italy, both Hyundais suffer major setbacks. Technical problems forced Thierry Neuville to stop on the course, which cost him a lot of time, team-mate Juho Hänninen flipped his car.

With his rivals suffering bad luck, Jari-Matti Latvala drove a superior best time and moved up into first place in the overall standings. Andreas Mikkelsen is in fourth, Ogier is in sixth.

After the service it's on to the second part of today's rally, during which the special stages two to five will be driven once again.


15:20 (CEST)

Not for hotheads.

With a delay of around one hour and 20 minutes, the WRC drivers started the fourth special stage of the Rally Italy (Coiluna-Crastazza 1). The delay was as a result of Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen's spectacular retirement: The Fiesta caught fire unexpectedly and completely burned out, the reasons for which are still a mystery. Fortunately the crew weren't harmed.

The Volkswagen drivers are still giving it their all to keep up with the leaders. Jari-Matti Latvala had the third fastest time, Sébastien Ogier finished seventh in this special stage, Andreas Mikkelsen finished in eleventh.

“I'm still pushing to get everything out of the car. I feel really sorry for Mikko, he didn't deserve that,” said Ogier at the finish.

In the overall standings, Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), who drove the second fastest time behind Mads Østberg (Citroën), overtook his team-mate Juho Hänninen.


13:30 (CEST)

Attention!

Due to an accident on the liaison stage to the fourth special stage, the start of the SS 4 is delayed.


13:05 (CEST)

“We pushed, but couldn't do any better.”

The Volkswagen drivers continue to battle through Sardinia's dirt tracks. On the third special stage (Terranova Sud 1), Jari-Matti Latvala was 5.2 seconds behind the best time of Hyundai driver Juho Hänninen – an acceptable result given the early starting position. Team-mate Sébastien Ogier found it more difficult since he had to take to the course first. “We couldn't go any faster. We really pushed, but couldn't do any better,” summed up the Frenchman. The best Volkswagen driver was once again Andreas Mikkelsen, who had the eighth fastest time and is fourth overall. The Hyundai fleet still leads the overall standings.

 


Flying High. Jari-Matti, Sébastien and Andreas are first, second and fourth at the end of day one of the Rally Italy.


Aktuelle Bilder (14)
20:00 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after nine of 17 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:49:09.5    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:49:31.9 +22.4  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 1:49:43.2 +33.7  
4 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 1:49:47.2 +37.7  
5 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 1:50:06.4 +56.9  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt 1:50:28.8 +1:19.3  
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 1:50:38.5 +1:29.0  
8 H. Solberg / I. Minor 1:50:46.4 +1:36.9  
9 Y. Al Rajhi / M. Orr (WRC 2) 1:54:25.3 +5:15.8  
10 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini (WRC 2) 1:54:29.4 +5:19.9  

21:30 (CEST)

It was a very good first day for us.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The start was even tougher than expected: there was no grip, as the loose sand made the surface extremely slippery. Julien and I did everything we could, but in conditions like this you simply have no chance of setting a top time as the first car on the route. As expected, the afternoon’s second loop was better, and we made the most of the situation with second place overall. I will obviously push and attack again tomorrow.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“It was a very good first day for us, and was great fun – no question. Before the rally I would never have expected to be leading today, as our early start position was far from an advantage. We had a soft brake pedal for a while in the morning, but were able to solve that and get through the day without any problems. Our lead is pleasing, as it is crystal clear that our team-mates will push hard tomorrow and do their best to catch us. We have to stay cool and continue with the same pace and in the same manner.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Volkswagen had the pleasant problem of being first, second and third onto the route today. That is a definite handicap with the amount of loose gravel there is, and all those starting after us had better conditions. However, that is part of the sport, and we tried to make the most of the situation. I think we did that, and we now find ourselves well placed for the coming days. It was also my first full day of the rally with Ola Fløene at my side as co-driver. The communication was perfect from the outset and Ola did a perfect job. It is great that Norwegian is the ‘official language’ again in our cockpit. Apropos Norway: we have our sights set on winning the all-Norwegian duel with Mads Østberg again.”


21:20 (CEST)

Surprise one-two.


Jari-Matti Latvala surprised everyone to lead after day one, about 22 seconds ahead of World Champion Sébastien Ogier.

 

Even he didn’t see that coming. “I was aiming for a place in the top five, nothing more than that,” revealed Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) when he arrived at the finish late on Friday evening. “Even this morning I really didn’t think it would be possible to arrive in Alghero leading the rally.”


Team-mate Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) was in a far better mood by the time he reached the promenade on the west coast of Sardinia than he was during the midday break. “We made the best of our situation,” said the World Champion, who spent the entire day sweeping the roads for the opposition as the first man out onto the route. This handicap may have something to do with the 22.4 gap to leader Latvala. “Those are the rules,” said Ogier, shrugging his shoulders. The Frenchman moved into second place on the final special stage of the day. “I just have to live with it. Fortunately the handicap was not so great on this afternoon’s second loop.”


Last year’s winner announced his intention to go on the attack on Saturday, when the next four special stages amount to almost 157 kilometres against the clock. “It will certainly be tough to catch Jari-Matti. He has the advantage of starting behind me and can pace himself accordingly. But it is not impossible. If needs be, I still have Sunday too.”


Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito once again stressed that the Finn and the Frenchman would be able to battle it out for victory without any interference in the form of team orders. “This duel will be decided on the route.”


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) is fourth, rounding off a strong team performance from Volkswagen Motorsport. “All in all it was a good day,” was the Norwegian’s summary. He is just four seconds behind his compatriot Mads Ostberg (Citroën) in the final podium position. “It is still all to play for,” said Mikkelsen.


12:30 (CEST)

Looking for grip.

Rough gravel and heat haven't made for an easy start to the Rally Italy. The first drivers to take to the course are at a disadvantage – as Sébastien Ogier and team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala discovered on the first special stage of the day (Terranova Nord 1). Starting first and second, the two Volkswagen drivers had to play “road sweeper” for the field that followed and were therefore unable to keep up with the drivers who started later. “I'm doing what I can, but I didn't have any grip at all,” complained Ogier at the finish.

The Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene duo did significantly better, driving the fourth fastest time, just 5.7 seconds behind leader Thierry Neuville (Hyundai).

After the first 19.8 kilometres of the day, Neuville is ahead, closely followed by his team-mate Juho Hänninen. Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) is in third, Mikkelsen in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9 is fourth.


Friday: the special stages of the first day.

06:05 (CEST)

Thursday, 05.06.2014


The Volkswagen Motorsport drivers are looking forward to the Rally Italy. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (18)
23:20 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after one of 17 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 1:19.1    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:19.3 +0.2  
2 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1:19.3 +0.2  
4 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 1:20.3 +1.2  
5 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:20.8 +1.7  
5 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 1:20.8 +1.7  
7 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 1:20.9 +1.8  
7 E. Evans / D. Barritt 1:20.9 +1.8  
9 H. Solberg / I. Minor 1:21.2 +2.1  
10 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 1:21.7 +2.6  

22:10 (CEST)

Perfect atmosphere – exciting start.

 

The starting gong for the sixth round of the 2014 World Rally Championship sounded on Sardinia on Thursday evening with the first special stage. The Rally Italy started in promising fashion with the short opening stage, and hopes are high that the all-Volkswagen duel at the top of the WRC standings between defending champion Sébastien Ogier in the #1 Polo R WRC and challenger Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) will continue to produce a thrilling spectacle over the coming days.

 

The drivers kicked off with the 1.3-kilometre Super Special Stage ‘Città di Cagliari’, which took place in front of about 20,000 enthusiastic spectators in Cagliari. Ogier made a clear statement to his main rivals with a time of 1:19.3 minutes, a mere 0.2 seconds behind stage winner Mikko Hirvonen (Ford). Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) clocked exactly the same time as the Frenchman. Latvala (1:20.8 minutes) was fifth fastest, one and a half seconds behind Ogier, with Andreas Mikkelsen a further 0.1 seconds slower than his Finnish team-mate in the #9 Polo R WRC.

 

The rally drivers have a real marathon day ahead of them on Friday: the itinerary features eight special stages, by the end of which the leading drivers are unlikely to be so closely bunched together.


12:00 (CEST)

Heated affair in the Sardinian sun.

Tyre conservation the order of the day in the Shakedown at the Rally Italy.


Temperatures well above 30 degrees are expected on Sardinia at the weekend. As such, there are big question marks looming over the matter of tyre wear. “This will make Saturday’s 60-kilometre Monte Lerno stage particularly exciting in this regard,” said Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1). The World Champion clocked the second fastest time in the Shakedown on Thursday morning, one tenth of a second behind ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica (Ford). “I hope the long special stage will be really tough. That would be an advantage for me,” added Ogier, who is known for his ability to look after his tyres.

The championship leader must live with the disadvantage of being the first man out onto the route on Friday. “This is a particularly large handicap at three rounds of the World Championship – and the Rally Italy is one of them.” Ogier believes his opponents from other teams starting behind him will have a considerable advantage. “That is not too bad though, as my main rival is Jari-Matti Latvala.”

Currently second in the championship, the Finn in the number 2 Polo R WRC is the next man onto the road behind Ogier. As such, conditions will be more or less identical for both drivers. “You have to stick to the racing line. Otherwise the sand next to it is very deep, and you lose a lot of time,” said Latvala, who was third fastest in the Shakedown – 0.2 seconds slower than Ogier.

Latvala has made slight adjustments to his seating position in the Polo R WRC since the Rally Argentina, which he won. “I have crept gradually closer to the steering wheel in recent months. I realised I was too close and have had my seat moved back by five millimetres.”

Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) completed the top five in the Shakedown. The Norwegian, who will receive instructions from his former co-driver Ola Floene for the first time in the WRC on Sardinia, was exactly one second slower than Kubica. “For me, the priority in the shakedown was to get used to hearing Norwegian over the intercom again,” explained Mikkelsen.


Thursday: the special stage of the first day.

09:00 (CEST)

Previews

Monday, 02.06.2014


Clear the gravel for the sixth round.

 

Two Volkswagen Motorsport drivers battle it out to go top of the table on Sardinia.

Volkswagen Motorsport director Jost Capito currently has a genuinely nice problem. Both of his works drivers are winning every world championship race and have opened up a clear gap at the top of the table. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) travels to the Rally Italy on Sardinia next weekend for the sixth round with three wins under his belt and 112 points. Team colleague Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) currently has 88 points and two wins. The driver in third place can only maintain a respectful distance with 48 points, but is also driving a Polo R WRC – Volkswagen Motorsport junior Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway).

There are no team orders. ‘May the best man win,’ is Capito’s take on things. Both 315 hp Polo WRC cars driven by Ogier and Latvala enter the rally identical from a technical perspective. On the course, both drivers have free rein to battle it out among themselves for world championship points, podium finishes and potential victories.

The Frenchman and the Finn have ample opportunity to do so on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. A total of 17 special stages covering a distance of almost 365 kilometres are on the programme. The longest of these is just a few kilometres shorter than the usual world championship limit of 60 kilometres. ‘The fast gravel tracks suit my driving style,’ says last year’s winner Sébastien Ogier. ‘Even though it’s especially difficult to be the first to set off around the course on the loose sand on Friday, I still think I have a good chance of winning.’

Team colleague Jari-Matti Latvala knows only too well from past experience: ‘The road is pretty narrow, and the trees and rocks can get really close. There is little room for drifting, so we have to be careful.’ At the very least, the winner of the last world championship race in Argentina wants to match his result from 2013, when he finished third following tyre damage shortly after the start.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) is entering the rally on Sardinia with a new co-driver, who nonetheless is an old acquaintance – his compatriot and former co-driver Ola Floene. ‘It’s great to have Ola back in the cockpit. Although we were no longer able to complete any test drives before the Rally Italy, I don’t think it will be a problem,’ says Mikkelsen looking forward to the reunion. ‘We have known each other so long and just had a little break from one other recently.’

The special stages in the Rally Italy may only have changed slightly compared to 2013, but the organisers have turned the entire structure of the event completely on its head. While the centre in previous years was in Olbia in north-west Sardinia, the Italian world championship rally will now start with a night-time stage in the southern port of Cagliari (Thursday, 9.13 p.m.). Later on, the marina in Alghero on the west coast will be at the heart of the action. The rally will finish there on Sunday at 1.45 p.m.

Friday, 30.05.2014


“It will be a spectacular duel with Jari-Matti.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“After the extremely rough and muddy stages in Argentina, I am really looking forward to the rally on Sardinia. The quick gravel routes are far better suited to my driving style. As first out onto the route on Friday, it may be particularly difficult for Julien and me on the loose sand, but I still think I have a good chance of winning. I have always felt very comfortable on Sardinia and my results have always been good here. As of late, my toughest rival will be my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. And I can promise Jari-Matti and the fans: it will definitely be a spectacular and exciting duel.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“There are a few rallies on the WRC calendar, to which I particularly look forward – and the Rally Italy is one of them. The surface is a little like the Rally Portugal, although the corners in Italy are more easily visible. The surface is also more slippery than in Portugal, because the top layer is very sandy. However, there will also be greater grip once the route has been ‘cleared’ by a few cars. The streets are pretty narrow and the trees and rocks can be very close. Despite this, it does not take long to find a rhythm on the special stages. There is little room for drifting, so we will have to be careful and not apply too much pressure at the start. After the win in Argentina, I obviously travel to Italy full of confidence and with my sights set on challenging for another victory. My goal is to finish in the top three.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“It is great to have Ola back in the cockpit. We might not have been able to tests prior to the Rally Italy, but I don’t think that will be a problem. We have both known each other for such a long time, and have only been apart for a short time. We will not change anything with regards the pace notes – apart from the fact that they will now be in Norwegian again, rather than English. Whatever happens, the goal will be to complete a clean, error-free rally. A top-five result would ultimately be fantastic. I am particularly looking forward to the ‘Monte Lerno’ special stage with Mickey’s Jump, which is a genuine highlight every year. At almost 60 kilometres it is the longest stage of the year so far.”

Wednesday, 28.05.2014


“He was fired up for the job”:

Ilkka Kivimäki about Miikka Anttila.

 

Ilkka Kivimäki is a truly legendary co-driver. Now 64 years old, he had his first experience as a co-driver at the tender age of 15. He scored some major victories together with Markku Alén, and the two of them notched up a tally of 20 WRC victories – and no less than six of them were in Finland. At the end of his career as an active co-driver, Kivimäki focused on promoting up-and-coming drivers. One of his young charges was Miikka Anttila, who is now the co-driver of Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala.

How long have you known Miikka for and how did you meet?
We’ve known each other for 25 years. When my professional career alongside Markku Alén came to an end, I worked as a coach in the Finnish automobile club, AKK. A team of drivers and co-drivers was put together, and it was my job to get them ready to compete in international rallies. I was also a member of the Mitsubishi WRC team’s gravel crew at the time, which gave me the opportunity to take certain rally rookies along with me to my work – and Miikka was one of them.

What makes Miikka stand out? How did you become aware of his talent?
I took him along to rallies abroad and put his skills to the test. He was ever so committed and was very fired up for the job. He was also always very keen to learn and to improve his skills. And he was very sporty, he trained hard and really worked on upping his fitness. And fitness is very important if you want to be a co-driver.

What’s the best experience the two of you have shared?
I remember a situation during Rally Germany. We were under immense time pressure and I kept on pushing him. He remained focused all the way, concentrated on the task in hand and never lost his temper. That’s when I knew Miikka was the right man to compete professionally in rallying, because he was consistently able to deliver 100 per cent, even when under immense pressure.

Do you still see each other from time to time? If so, what do you like to do the most?
We get together regularly, usually for some cross-country skiing, because I have a small cabin in the north of Finland. And we bump into each other at rallies too, of course. I’m not always only there as a spectator – occasionally Markku Alén and I get back behind the wheel together to take part again. Our last win wasn’t actually all that long ago – it was at the 2013 San Marino Rallylegend.

What makes somebody a good co-driver?
The ability to remain highly focused in any situation, being highly committed to the job, and being willing to work closely with the driver and the team. A co-driver also has to be physically fit, as already mentioned.

The co-driver spends most of their time focusing on the pace notes. How do you stop yourself from feeling sick in the cockpit?
It all comes down to concentration. If you’re focusing entirely on your job and on the pace notes, you don’t really notice the fact that you’re being shaken about. You’re so mentally charged that you completely forget about your stomach.