Rally Germany 2014

 

Mixed feelings following home event.

 

It was a weekend of highs and lows for Volkswagen Motorsport. The Rally Germany ended with the team guaranteed to win the WRC drivers’ title, but two of Volkswagen’s duos crashed out of the event, meaning that third place was the best finish the team could manage in the vineyards around Trier.

 

Defending World Champion Sébastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia were forced to retire as early as Saturday when they left the road while they were in the lead. The second pairing – Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila – then crashed out on Sunday’s final leg, flying off the road on a long left-hand bend when victory looked certain. There was some good news for the team too though, with Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene making it onto the podium for the first time by taking third place. The rally finished with a one-two victory for Hyundai Motorsport: Thierry Neuville won ahead of Dani Sordo.

 

As Volkswagen’s closest challenger, Citroën, also proved unlucky, Volkswagen is now nevertheless guaranteed to win the Drivers’ Championship. Following the weekend of rallying in Germany, the three Volkswagen drivers – Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen – are the only contenders with a chance of lifting the crown. With 112 World Championship points up for grabs in the remaining four rallies in Australia, France, Spain and the UK, Sébastien Ogier already has a 113-point lead over Citroën’s Mads Østberg (N) in fourth place. Either Ogier’s co-driver Julien Ingrassia or Latvala’s navigator Miikka Anttila will win the Co-Drivers’ Championship as Ola Fløene only took his seat next to Andreas Mikkelsen partway through the season.

 

Although Volkswagen was unable to clinch the manufacturers’ title early in Germany, the car maker could still claim the trophy at the Rally Australia. Volkswagen currently has a 167-point lead and needs to defend at least 129 of those points to guarantee its second consecutive WRC victory. That means Ogier or Latvala would only need to take seventh place if the team’s rival Citroën secured a one-two win, for example.

Sébastien Ogier: “It was definitely a weekend to forget for us. It was almost an exact repeat of last year, and we drivers bear the sole responsibility for that. Of course, it’s twice as disappointing for Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila and I can imagine how the two of them feel considering that I crashed out the day before. But we shouldn’t forget that we as a team delivered a fantastic run of twelve consecutive wins with Volkswagen – we can all be proud of that. For me, it’s all about looking ahead now. We’ve got another chance to secure the manufacturers’ title for Volkswagen and extend our lead in the Drivers’ Championship at the Rally Australia. We’ll prove our fighting spirit Down Under.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala: “Victory was within our grasp – I’m so sorry we crashed out so badly, especially for the team. I would have liked to win it for them, but unfortunately I made a mistake that had serious consequences. The conditions were extremely difficult today – dry stretches constantly alternated with slippery sections. It was slipperier than I thought on a long left-hand bend where the track looked dry. As we came out of the bend, the car skidded and we slid into the vineyard. We couldn’t get back up the hill, so I tried to get back onto the road by going downhill. Unfortunately, we hit a solid barrier and had to give up. All I can do now is keep trying to catch him during the next few rallies and help Volkswagen to win the manufacturers’ title early in Australia at the same time.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen: “Conditions were extremely difficult at the Rally Germany. The weather set the tone on all three days and made for incredibly slippery conditions even yesterday. It was even more difficult on Sunday and each of the top drivers faced a hairy moment of some kind in the first Stage of the day. Unfortunately, one such moment forced my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala to retire early. It’s a real shame because the team more than deserved to succeed at home and gave their all to win, as always. I hope that my third place is some small consolation at least. I’m happy to have won my first WRC podium place at an asphalt rally.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director: “Of course we’re disappointed. We were so close to winning at home, but a small mistake had big repercussions. Unfortunately, Jari-Matti Latvala was unable to translate his good performance and dominance into a win. But slip-ups happen in rallying and are part of it – that’s only human. After a record-breaking series of twelve consecutive wins, a rally can go wrong. And luck just doesn’t seem to be on our side in Germany. We win together and lose together as a team. Today, we lost a possible win along with Jari-Matti – and we won a podium place with Andreas Mikkelsen. Our congratulations go to Thierry Neuville and Hyundai on their first win in the World Rally Championship!”


The Rally Germany remains a stumbling block for the Volkswagen drivers. The video.


Rally Germany 2014: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:07:20.2    
2 D. Sordo / M. Marti 3:08:00.9 +40.7  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 3:08:18.2 +58.0  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt 3:08:23.8 +1:03.6  
5 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 3:08:30.7 +1:10.5  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:08:42.9 +1:22.7  
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 3:12:13.0 +4:52.8  
8 D. Kuipers / R. Buysmans 3:16:38.3 +9:18.1  
9 P. Tidemand / E. Axelsson (WRC2) 3:18:55.6 +11:35.4  
10 O. Tänak / R. Molder (WRC2) 3:18:57.4 +11:37.2  

Impressions

The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2014 Rally Germany 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, 24.08.2014


Déjà-vu in the vineyards. The Rally Germany remains a stumbling block for the Volkswagen drivers: two retirements and a third place.


Aktuelle Bilder (12)
16:00 Uhr (MESZ)


15:30 (CEST)

World championship preliminary decision: driver and co-driver titles go to Volkswagen once again.


Australia, France, Spain and Great Britain – four exciting rallies still lie in store for the WRC drivers. But only three pilots are still in the running for the world championship title: defending champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1), last year's runner up Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) and Andreas Mikkelsen (#9). The three Volkswagen drivers lead the drivers' standings by a sizeable margin. The best odds of winning the drivers' title are with defending champion Ogier, who on 187 points is 44 ahead of Latvala on 143. Mikkelsen now has 110 thanks to his strong third-place finish in Germany, but at 77 points behind Ogier, he only realistically has a theoretical chance of overtaking the Frenchman.

 

In fourth place comes the first rally pilot not to drive a Polo R WRC. Mads Østberg (Citroën) sits on 74 championship points and it would be theoretically possible for him to accumulate a maximum of 112 points over the next four rallies (28 points per rally) and reach 186 points, but that would still be one short of the total Ogier already has.

 

However, the result in the manufacturers' championship was postponed: Volkswagen Motorsport were unable to pick up any points due to the retirements of Ogier and Latvala in Germany and remain on 305 points. Citroën are in second place on 138 points and four consecutive double-victories would bring them 172 points (43 in each rally) and the subsequent total of 310 points would be enough to leapfrog Volkswagen Motorsport.

 

This would also be contingent on Ogier and Latvala only taking a total of four points between them. Seventh place in Australia for either Ogier or Latvala would already be enough for Volkswagen Motorsport to defend their championship title.


15:15 (CEST)

I hope my third place is a little consolation.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“This weekend is definitely one to forget for us. It is like an exact repeat of last year, and we drivers are solely responsible. The disappointment is obviously twice as great for Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikka Anttila, and I can imagine how they must feel after we crashed out the day before. However, we ought not forget that we, as a team, have enjoyed a fantastic run of twelve wins in a row with Volkswagen. That is something we can all be proud of. I am only looking ahead now. The Rally Australia gives us another opportunity to secure the Manufacturers’ title for Volkswagen and to extend our lead in the Drivers’ Championship. We will show our fighting spirit down under.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“We had victory within our grasps. I feel incredibly bad at the way we crashed out, especially for the team. I could have given them this win, but unfortunately I made a mistake with grave consequences. The conditions were extremely difficult today – it alternated constantly between dry and wet sections. A long left-hander, in which the road seemed dry, proved to be more slippery than I thought. The car ended up sideways on the exit from the corner and we skidded into the vineyard. Because we could not get back up the hill, I tried to get back onto the road by heading downhill. Unfortunately we hit a solid barrier in doing so and had to give up. As far as the championship is concerned, the gap to Sébastien remains the same. All I can do is try again to catch him at the next rallies, and to help Volkswagen seal the Manufacturers’ title with races to spare in Australia.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“The conditions at the Rally Germany were extremely difficult. The weather called the shots on all three days and created really slippery conditions yesterday. It was even more difficult on Sunday, and all of the top drivers had at least one hairy moment on the opening stage of the day. Unfortunately one such moment brought my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala’s rally to a premature end. It is a shame, as the team had more than earned a home win and, as always, had gone all out for the win. I hope my third place is a little consolation. I am pleased with my first WRC podium on asphalt.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“We are obviously disappointed. We were so close to a home win, but a small mistake had big consequences. Unfortunately Jari-Matti Latvala was unable to convert his dominance into a victory. However, mistakes happen in rallying and they are part of the sport. We are only human, after all. However, after a record run of twelve successive wins, we need not feel too bad about one failure. It would appear that luck is not on our side in Germany. We win as a team and lose as a team. Today we lost out on a possible victory with Jari-Matti, but we gained a podium place with Andreas Mikkelsen. Congratulations to Thierry Neuville and Hyundai on their first win in the World Rally Championship!”


12:55 (CEST)

Andreas Mikkelsen secures third place at the Rally Germany.

 

Congratulation to Andreas Mikkelsen, for the third time this season the Volkswagen pilot in the Polo R WRC #9 drove his way onto the podium. During the 18th Special Stage of Rally Germany, the Norwegian driver didn't take any more chances, but defended his third place overall behind the winner Thierry Neuville and his Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo.

 

On the final 19.27-km Power Stage Grafschaft 2, Welshman Elfyn Evans (Ford) was fastest to clinch the three extra points in the drivers' classification. Two extra points went to Neuville in second and Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) picked up one extra point for finishing third.

 

The two Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) did not take part in the Power Stage due to retirements.


12:50 (CEST)

From star of the future to bringing home the bacon: Andreas Mikkelsen has been involved in rallying since 2006. He picked up his first points as a teenager in 2008 and the Norwegian driver who is now 26 year's old has reached triple figures for the first time this year. After securing 50 world championship points in his debut season with Volkswagen, the 2014 season is already the most successful in Mikkelsen's nascent WRC career.

 

Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) took his first podium of the current season in Sweden as he finished second and he was able to repeat this success in Poland. Now with this result in Germany, the Norwegian has made it onto the podium for the third time. With his third place finish in Volkswagen's home rally, Mikkelsen has now accumulated a respectable 110 world championship points. Thus consolidating third place in the drivers' classification behind Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Jari-Matti Latvala (#2).


Classification after 18 of 18 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:07:20.2    
2 D. Sordo / M. Marti 3:08:00.9 +40.7  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 3:08:18.2 +58.0  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt 3:08:23.8 +1:03.6  
5 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 3:08:30.7 +1:10.5  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:08:42.9 +1:22.7  
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 3:12:13.0 +4:52.8  
8 D. Kuipers / R. Buysmans 3:16:38.3 +9:18.1  
9 P. Tidemand / E. Axelsson (WRC2) 3:18:55.6 +11:35.4  
10 O. Tänak / R. Molder (WRC2) 3:18:57.4 +11:37.2  

12:00 (CEST)

Jari-Matti Latvala: Error in pace notes.

 

The Finn on his crash on SS 15.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) was visibly devastated. “I swear this will never happen to me again,” said the Finn, back at the service park in Trier. “A win would obviously have done wonders for my title chances. However, I will not stop fighting. The Rally Australia is my next opportunity to close the gap on Sébastien Ogier.”

 

Latvala blames a mistake in his pace notes for the set-back, which came about eight kilometres into the Dhrontal 1 special stage. “I know this stage very well, as we drove it last year. Previously, I always had a warning in my pace notes for this corner. I scratched this comment after the practice at the start of this week. That is why we were simply too quick.” 

 

Latvala had started the stage with a lead of over a minute. “I actually took my foot off the gas a little in the first part, which was very slippery, just to be safe. When the road became a bit drier, I put my foot down again.” In the pivotal corner, the Polo R WRC strayed onto the wet grass at the side of the road. “The rear kicked out unexpectedly. Then we slid down a slope,” reported Latvala. 

 

For a few seconds the Finn was still hopeful of getting back onto the route, or at least finding another way back into the vineyards. But after a while it became clear that his rally had come to a premature end. “I am very sorry for the team, who did a perfect job this weekend.”

 

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito was philosophical about the failure of both Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier to finish. “We are obviously all gutted. However, losing is also part of sport. A good team shows its true strength in situations like this. We will not allow this kind of result to knock us out of our stride.”


11:40 (CEST)

Power Stage promises great excitement.

 


What else has the battle for the podium at the Rally Germany got in store for us? After 17 of 18 special stages, Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen finds himself in a strong third place. The Norwegian in the #9 Polo R WRC finished an impressive second on the 18.03-kilometre Dhrontal 2 stage to extend his advantage over fourth-placed Elfyn Evans (Ford). Mikkelsen now leads the Welshman by 9.9 seconds.

 

Ahead of the Volkswagen driver, Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) leads the rally, followed by his team-mate Dani Sordo in second place. Mikkelsen is 17.6 seconds behind the Spaniard. Can he close this gap on the final 19.27-kilometre Special Stage? It is certainly not impossible, especially given the unexpected drama we have already witnessed at this Rally Germany.


10:15 (CEST)

Mikkelsen with one eye on the table.


Podium not the main goal.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) has his sights set on third place. “I am basing my pace on the split times of Elfyn Evans,” said the Norwegian as he arrived at the last of the larger services at the Rally Germany. The British Ford driver is just 8.5 seconds behind Mikkelsen with two special stages remaining. 

 

However, Mikkelsen actually has one eye on two of his other opponents: “My main rivals in the Drivers’ Championship are Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Østberg.” Both are currently behind Mikkelsen. “As such, I will not do anything stupid just to stay ahead of Elfyn,” said Mikkelsen.

 

Mikkelsen described conditions on Sunday’s two stages, which the drivers tackle again on the second loop after the service, as extremely difficult. “We do have very good information from our safety crew, which drives the special stages again shortly before the start. But the drivers on the road ahead of us are throwing more mud onto the road in a lot of corners. You should always err on the side of caution a little.”

 

Mikkelsen was glad not to have been taking too great a risk at one point in particular: “We spun at quite high speed. Fortunately the car emerged unscathed.” That alone is quite an achievement on the narrow roads through the vineyards.


09:30 (CEST)

WRC live on German TV.

 


A first for the 2014 World Rally Championship: for the first time this year, one of this afternoon’s special stages will be shown live on German television. Free-to-air station Servus TV will show the 18th special stage, Grafschaft 2, from 11:50. The final 19.27-kilometre section concludes the Rally Germany and will determine more than just the winner of this year’s rally. A maximum three bonus points towards the Drivers’ Championship are also up for grabs on the Power Stage.

 

Pay-to-view station Sport1+ will also broadcast the final moments of the Rally Germany live.


Classification after 16 of 18 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:43:52.4    
2 D. Sordo / M. Marti 2:44:28.1 +35.7  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 2:44:48.5 +56.1  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt 2:44:57.0 +1:04.6  
5 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:45:06.6 +1:14.2  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 2:45:10.4 +1:18.0  
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:48:08.7 +4:16.3  
8 D. Kuipers / R. Buysmans 2:51:53.9 +8:01.5  
9 J. Maurin / N. Klinger (WRC2) 2:54:08.8 +10:16.4  
10 O. Tänak / R. Molder (WRC2) 2:54:33.1 +10:40.7  

08:50 (CEST)

Mikkelsen on course for podium.

 


The drama is relentless at the Rally Germany. After SS 15 ended Jari-Matti Latvala’s dreams of victory in the #2 Polo R WRC, Kris Meeke (Citroën) is now the latest victim at what is proving to be a perilous Rally Germany for the top drivers. The latest retirement means Andreas Mikkelsen is now on course for a place on the podium. The Volkswagen driver in the #9 Polo R WRC was fifth fastest on the 19.27-kilometre Grafschaft 1 stage and now lies third overall ahead of the final two stages.

 

With 37.3 kilometres to go, Belgium’s Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) now leads the Rally Germany ahead of his team-mate Dani Sordo. Mikkelsen is about 20 seconds behind the Spaniard in third place. The Volkswagen driver’s lead over fourth-placed Elfyn Evans is 8.5 seconds. The battle for the podium looks like going down to the wire.

 


08:20 (CEST)

Dramatic start to Sunday.

 


What bad luck for Jari-Matti Latvala. With victory at the Rally Germany in his sights, the Volkswagen driver fell victim to incredibly difficult conditions on stage 15. A few kilometres into Dhrontal 1, the Finn skidded off the road and was unable to complete the 18.03-kilometre section.

 

All the drivers struggled on the muddy surface and arrived at the finish with extremely muddy and sometimes stricken cars. Kris Meeke (Citroën) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) coped best with the conditions. They are now the favourites to win the Rally Germany.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen also spun in the Polo R WRC #9, but he was able to clock the sixth fastest time and is now hopeful of a podium. The Norwegian is currently fourth overall, 19.5 seconds behind third-placed Dani Sordo (Hyundai).


Sunday: the special stages of the third day.

06:00 (CEST)

Saturday, 23.08.2014


Increase the speed. Latvala pulls away, Ogier forced to retire.


Aktuelle Bilder (08)
19:50 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after 14 of 18 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:19:00.7    
2 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 2:19:57.3 +56.6  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:20:01.6 +1:00.9  
4 D. Sordo / M. Marti 2:20:27.5 +1:26.8  
5 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 2:20:37.7 +1:37.0  
6 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:20:53.9 +1:53.2  
7 E. Evans / D. Barritt 2:20:58.8 +1:58.1  
8 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 2:21:00.0 +1:59.3  
9 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:23:10.3 +4:09.6  
10 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak (WRC2) 2:25:39.8 +6:39.1  

20:40 (CEST)

Latvala aims for his first asphalt victory.

 

Finn goes into the final leg with a lead of almost a minute.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) can almost start to relax. Nearly 57 seconds advantage going into the 75 kilometres of special stages on the relatively short final leg are a reassuring buffer. “I will still be fully focussed on Sunday,” promised the Finn. “Depending on the weather, the final four special stages will be anything but a walk in the park.”

 

In the changing conditions during Saturday's leg, the former gravel specialist showed his rivals just how fast he is on asphalt these days. “The special stages on the military training area Baumholder were a big challenge,” said Latvala looking back on his two best times on the special stage “Panzerplatte Lang”, which at more than 42 kilometres is the longest special stage of the entire rally. “The road surface changes every hundred metres and a surprise can lurk around every corner. One of Sébastien Loeb's strengths at the Rally Germany was his clever tyre handling: If you make sure that they don't get too hot they will play nicely. If you overheat them they will cause problems. I tried to stick to this, particularly on 'Panzerplatte', which worked really well.”

 

If the result doesn't change radically on Sunday, Latvala's first victory on asphalt will also see Volkswagen win the manufacturers world championship. The 29-year-old insists that he doesn't feel under any pressure. “Of course it would be fantastic to win the title for my team. But I also have my position in the drivers' championship to think about. I would be back in with a chance of the title if I won.”

 

Sunday won't be quite so relaxed for Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). The Norwegian is seventh after the second leg. “The three drivers behind me are less than 30 seconds away. It will be exciting.” Saturday was already a welcome training session for Mikkelsen. “I already feel at home on dry asphalt. But I'm lacking experience in mixed conditions such as those that dominated on Saturday. As such the four stages on the military training ground Baumholder were a particularly valuable lesson.”

 

Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia however will leave Trier without any championship points. In the slip-up on the eighth special stage the Polo R WRC with car number was so badly damaged that it wasn't possible to repair it within the three hours permitted in the regulations. “Unfortunately I was unlucky once again at the Rally Germany this year,” said the world champion. “But I'm not going to let it get me down, I'm looking ahead. At the next WRC event in Australia I'll be back with my usual fighting spirit. I want to repeat last year's victory down under.”


19:45 (CEST)

Jari-Matti Latvala was already way ahead after the first leg of the Rally Germany. In his Polo R WRC #2, the Volkswagen driver had built up a lead of a total of 37.0 seconds over Kris Meeke (Citroën) on six special stages, that's more than six seconds per special stage. And even though the Finn didn't take any unnecessary risks on the second day due to his considerable lead and the difficult conditions, he still managed to extend his lead further.

 

After 14 of 18 special stages Latvala is now 56.6 seconds ahead of Meeke. On the remaining four special stages on Sunday at a combined length of 74.6 kilometres it will be difficult for the Brit to catch up. On average he would have to be more than 14 seconds faster than the leading Finn on each special stage.


18:10 (CEST)

Give me five!



 

A perfect finish to a successful day for Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala: Just like on the first pass of the special stage “Panzerplatte Lang”, the Finn was unbeatable at the second time of asking. On the 42.51-kilometre special stage 14, the 29-year-old in the Polo R WRC secured the best time, finishing in 24:47.8 minutes.

 

This saw Latvala reach the finish line 2.6 seconds faster than Citroën driver Kris Meeke and six seconds faster than third-placed Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). Latvala secured the best time on five of the seven timed special stages of the second leg. Overall the Volkswagen driver has had eight victories on 13 sections at the Rally Germany 2014.

 

Things are just as clear cut in the overall standings. With a time of 2:19:00.7 hours, Latvala leads with almost a one-minute advantage over Meeke (+56.6 seconds), Neuville (+1:00.9 minutes) follows in third place. Andreas Mikkelsen in the Polo R WRC #9 is still in fifth place.


17:25 (CEST)

Latvala remains king of the arena.

 

Before the final part of the second leg gets underway on the 42.51-kilometre special stage “Panzerplatte Lang 2” the rally drivers had to warm up on the Arena Panzerplatte 2. Just like on the first pass on Saturday morning, Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) was unbeatable on the short 3.03-kilometre section of the Rally Germany.

 

With a time of 2:04.7 minutes, the Finnish Volkswagen driver won ahead of Hyundai driver Dani Sordo (+0.3 seconds) and Kris Meeke in the Citroën (+0.4 seconds). Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) drove the fifth fastest time of the special stage.

There wasn't much change in the overall standings: Latvala (1:54:12.9 hours) still has a clear lead over Meeke in the Rally Germany. The Brit is already 54 seconds behind the Volkswagen driver – Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) is hot on his heels. Mikkelsen is in fifth place.


16:40 (CEST)

Ogier unable to restart on Sunday.

 

It wasn't good news for Sébastien Ogier on Saturday afternoon. After the world champion took off on the eighth special stage of the Rally Germany, the Volkswagen driver initially hoped to be able to restart on Sunday and pick up three possible bonus points on the closing Power Stage.

 

However, the damage to the Polo R WRC #1 turned out to be too serious. The mechanics would have had three hours to make the car fit to race again – but unfortunately this wasn't possible, even for the fast-working Volkswagen mechanics.


16:15 (CEST)

No risks when aquaplaning.



 

Special stage 12 “Peterberg 2” took place in difficult conditions: Muddy bends and aquaplaning on the track made things awkward for the rally drivers. The later the drivers took to the track, the worse things got. Robert Kubica (Ford) benefitted from this as he was the first driver on the track and no one was able to beat his time.

 

Nevertheless, Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) was able to think of himself as the slight winner of the special stage: With the fourth fastest time, the leader of the Rally Germany extended his lead over Kris Meeke in the overall standings by a further three seconds. The Citroën driver only managed the eighth fastest time on special stage 12.


15:20 (CEST)

Hat-trick for the front runner.

There's no stopping him at the moment: Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) also won the eleventh special stage of the Rally Germany. With a time of 9:59.1 minutes on the 17.53 kilometres of the special stage Stein & Wein, the Finn was the only driver with a time under ten minutes. Thierry Neuville (+1.7 seconds) in the Hyundai and Citroën driver Kris Meeke (+4.6 seconds) finished in second and third, Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was sixth.

 

With his third successive special stage victory Latvala celebrated a small hat-trick. Overall the Volkswagen driver has secured six best times after ten timed sections at the Rally Germany 2014. A strong performance by the 29-year-old, who was able to extend his overall lead accordingly.

 

After eleven of 18 special stages, Latvala's lead over second-placed Meeke is now more than 50 seconds, Neuville in third place is even 55 seconds behind the leader. Mikkelsen in fifth place is still hoping to finish on the podium.


14:20 (CEST)

Latvala extends lead.

 

Ogier and Ingrassia hoping to restart on Sunday.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) has everything under control. “The track conditions change with almost every bend. The track is dry, then it's wet, then mud takes you by surprise again. Fortunately I have such a big lead now that I don't need to take any unnecessary risks,” explained the Finn heading into the midday service on Saturday. “I can reduce my speed slightly on the filthy sections of track and I go on the attack a bit more on the dry sections.”

 

This clever tactic didn't just secure Latvala the best time on the 42-kilometre ultimate stage “Panzerplatte Lang”. After ten special stages he has now also increased his lead over Kris Meeke (Citroën) to 45.8 seconds.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) is also adopting a similar strategy. “We're playing it safe,” confirmed the Norwegian. “It's so easy to make an error in these difficult track conditions. At the moment I'm just trying to stay within reach of Dani Sordo.” Mikkelsen is in fifth halfway through Saturday's leg, eleven seconds behind Sordo (Hyundai).

 

At the moment Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) is no longer involved in the rally. The Frenchman and co-driver Julien Ingrassia walked away from an accident on the special stage “Petersberg 1” with little more than shock. “We were in sixth gear on a long straight. Then there was a slight right turn over a crest. The jump was a bit further than we thought, the rear broke off when we landed and I lost control of the car,” explained the world champion.

 

“Then we smashed into the crash barrier and came to a stop on a slope with smallish trees. The most important thing at that point was that Julien and I realised that we were both ok. They took us to hospital for routine tests but we both walked away without injury. The Polo R WRC suffered a bit more because unfortunately the jump was pretty brutal. Now we need to wait and see whether the car can be repaired here and whether we can start on Sunday.”

 

The same four special stages from the morning session will be driven once again in the afternoon. Special stage 12, the second pass through “Peterberg” will be shortened. Ogier/Ingrassia's accident this morning damaged a crash barrier so the start will be moved to after this section of track. “The big question is whether or not it will rain in Baumholder,” said Jari-Matti Latvala looking ahead to special stages 13 and 14. “Fortunately the new tyre change zone is just before that. We can leave it until the last minute to decide whether to go with hard tyres or slicks for Panzerplatte.”


Classification after ten of 18 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:36:43.3    
2 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 1:37:29.1 +45.8  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1:37:37.1 +53.8  
4 D. Sordo / M. Marti 1:37:38.4 +55.1  
5 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 1:37:49.4 +1:06.1  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt 1:38:11.9 +1:28.6  
7 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 1:38:12.3 +1:29.0  
8 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 1:38:16.0 +1:32.7  
9 B. Bouffier / X. Panseri 1:39:08.0 +2:24.7  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 1:39:41.8 +2:58.5  

11:20 (CEST)

Finnish power play on Panzerplatte.

Wow, what a performance! Front runner Jari-Matti Latvala really went for it in his Polo R WRC on the “Arena Panzerplatte”. The result on the longest special stage of the Rally Germany at 42.5 kilometres: a fabulous best time of 24:40.2 minutes – and that was despite the Finn having chosen soft asphalt mix tyres this morning, putting him at a disadvantage on the alternating road conditions compared with the WRC cars on hard tyres.

The drivers main challenge here was coping with the switch between wet and dry asphalt, with the transitions being fairly sudden. “It was difficult to drive, slippery patches kept cropping up. You really need to focus 100 percent of the time here,” said Latvala describing his impressions at the finish line, he added: “Nevertheless I am very happy with the result.”

In the overall standings Latvala was able to extend his lead over rival Kris Meeke (Citroën) to almost 46 seconds. Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville, who was the second fastest to cross the line, just 0.7 seconds slower than Latvala, fought his way up into third place overall. He is followed by team-mate Dani Sordo, with Andreas Mikkelsen in fifth in the third Polo R WRC.


10:40 (CEST)

A short burst of speed ahead of the “ultimate stage”.

The three kilometre short special stage “Arena Panzerplatte 1” was just a taster of the long version of the “ultimate stage” on the military site that is up next.

The short section didn't bring about any changes in the top three. Jari-Matti Latvala secured the best time, followed by Dani Sordo (Hyundai) and Kris Meeke (Citroën). Andreas Mikkelsen drove the fourth fastest special stage time.

Latvala still leads the rankings in the Rally Germany Deutschland, a good 40 seconds ahead of Meeke. Sordo is a further eight seconds behind, closely followed by Mikkelsen.


09:15 (CEST)

Séb and Julien fine after accident –
Special stage “Peterberg” cancelled.

Moment of terror for world champion Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia: The two Frenchmen took off violently and at great speed on the eighth special stage (Peterberg 1). Fortunately neither driver was injured. The special stage was cancelled for safety reasons because their Polo R WRC damaged a barrier on impact.

This has put an end to Séb and Julien's rallying for the day. It's not yet known whether the Polo R WRC can be repaired in time for Sunday so that it can start under Rally 2 regulations.


08:40 (CEST)

Sliding into Saturday.

Caution is the order of the day in the early hours of Saturday morning's rallying: After heavy rain in the night the asphalt tracks around Trier are still wet. The first special stage of the day is “Stein & Wein”, on which front runner Jari-Matti Latvala drove the third fastest time, behind Robert Kubica (Ford) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), and defended his lead well.

Sébastien Ogier was the fourth fastest to cross the line and was just slightly slower than Latvala. Andreas Mikkelsen was eighth on this special stage.

In the overall standings Kris Meeke (Citroën) is about 40 seconds behind Latvala, followed by Dani Sordo (Hyundai), Mikkelsen is fourth.


08:20 (CEST)

Debut for wet tyres?  

The stages on the “Panzerplatte” are the only ones like this in the entire world.

The rally drivers at the 2014 edition of the Rally Germany are once again united in the opinion that the military training area of Baumholder will be the deciding factor. It's fortunate therefore that Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) particularly enjoys the special stage “Panzerplatte Lang”, which at 42.51 kilometres is the ultimate special stage of the German WRC event. “The military training area of Baumholder is a bit like Finland, just that you drive on asphalt instead of gravel,” said the overall leader. Latvala is referring to the high speeds that are reached and the track that, like in his home country, often resembles a roller coaster.


However, instead of comparatively yielding birch trees, it is unyielding concrete blocks that line the track here. These slabs of concrete embedded deeply into the ground to form barriers are meant to prevent tanks from coming off the track. Back in the days of the Hunsrück Rally, a predecessor to the German WRC event that mainly took place on the military training area of Baumholder, the concrete slabs were dubbed “Hinkelsteine” (menhirs). “Panzerplatte” and “Hinkelstein” are the only German words that many of the international rally drivers can pronounce without an accent.


The tracks predominantly made of concrete in the area almost 12,000 hectares in size make the special stage “Panzerplatte” unique in the World Rally Championship.


For this year's rally the organizers have added some new routes, and have also created a new short version, the 3.03-kilometre special stage “Arena Panzerplatte”. “I have made a note of six different types of road surface,” said Latvala.


The conditions are particularly difficult when it rains. There are no drainage systems at all, which means there is a high risk of aquaplaning. The tracks that are pretty dusty when it's dry become like glass in many places. A thunderstorm with heavy downpour that is common at the end of August in Hunsrück would also result in aquaplaning.


That's why there is an additional tyre change before the two Panzerplatte special stages, each of which are driven twice, for the first time this year. In the Tyre Fitting Zone in Birkenfeld the drivers can change a maximum of four tyres. Michelin's partners such as Volkswagen Motorsport can choose the brand new tyre type Full Wet, which was developed specially for very wet tracks.


Saturday: the special stages of the second day.

06:00 (CEST)


Classification after three of 18 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 29:47.2    
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 29:49.0 +1.8  
3 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 30:11.1 +23.9  
4 D. Sordo / M. Marti 30:15.7 +28.5  
5 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 30:18.5 +31.3  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 30:18.8 +31.6  
7 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 30:20.0 +32.8  
8 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 30:21.7 +34.5  
9 E. Evans / D. Barritt 30:27.6 +40.4  
10 B. Bouffier / X. Panseri 30:40.9 +53.7  

11:30 (CEST)

As low as it gets.


Many changes are made to the Polo R WRCs for asphalt rallies.


After six gravel rallies – and the exceptions of Monte Carlo (a mixture of snow, ice and asphalt) and Sweden (snow and ice) – the “Germany” rally is the first all-asphalt rally this season. In former times special cars were built for asphalt rallies, often using tricks that didn't conform to the regulations properly. A thinner body panel and altered linkage points for the chassis were the norm, parts of the body that weren't outwardly visible were also often removed temporarily.


These days are long gone. Nowadays a works team such as Volkswagen Motorsport can use a maximum of six chassis for two drivers per season. The minimum vehicle weight of 1200 kilograms is the same for every rally. It's no longer possible to build special asphalt bodies. However, the differences between the set-up of a Polo R WRC for gravel rallies and asphalt rallies are impressive all the same.


At first glance you notice the larger wheels. While 16 inch rims with 215-millimetre-wide tyres are used on gravel, the Polo R WRCs are fitted with 18 inch wheels at asphalt rallies. The Michelin tyres for asphalt are 235 millimetres wide. “The larger wheels allow for harder braking,” explained Jan-Gerard de Jongh, race engineer for Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC with car number 1. “The brake disks have a diameter of 355 millimetres instead of 300.” Combined with the wider and softer tyres, a Polo R WRC has much more braking power on asphalt than on gravel. Because the drivers also brake with much more force on asphalt special stages, the front brakes of the Polo R WRC are water-cooled. With more aggressive tuning of the differentials in the front and rear axle, the power transmission is adapted to suit the firm surface.


Because not as much ground clearance or suspension travel is required on asphalt as on gravel, the Polo R WRCs are about 100 millimetres lower at the Rally Germany than at the Rally Argentina, for example. The shock absorbers are smaller, making them lighter. In turn the springs and stabilisers are much thicker and harder than at asphalt rallies. Instead of around 275 millimetres of suspension travel on gravel, 180 millimetres are sufficient on asphalt tracks. “We also do without some of the panelling on the underside and the wheel arches that is there to protect the mechanics from stones and dust at gravel rallies,” added de Jongh.


To lower the centre of gravity even further, some of the drivers have their seats fitted lower than usual. The co-drivers don't have this leeway. They sit so low down, even at gravel rallies, that they can only just see out of the windscreen as it is.

Friday, 22.08.2014


The road to nowhere. Latvala on course for success, Ogier goes astray.


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21:00 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after six of 18 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 59:36.8    
2 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 1:00:13.8 +37.0  
3 D. Sordo / M. Marti 1:00:19.4 +42.6  
4 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 1:00:22.4 +45.6  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1:00:29.9 +53.1  
6 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 1:00:31.8 +55.0  
7 E. Evans / D. Barritt 1:00:37.0 +1:00.2  
8 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 1:00:38.7 +1:01.9  
9 B. Bouffier / X. Panseri 1:01:12.4 +1:35.6  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 1:01:43.9 +2:07.1  

21:00 (CEST)

Ogier: “That was clearly my mistake.”

 

Mistake from the World Champion hands Latvala commanding lead.

 

Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) was devastated. “That was clearly my mistake,” said the Frenchman as he returned to the service park well ahead of his rivals. “I braked too early coming into this corner on this morning’s first loop. I wanted to take it better in the afternoon, but the new braking point was definitely too late.”

 

The World Champion’s Polo R WRC hurtled off down a slope and landed with a mighty leap on a road running parallel to the special stage. The car was only slightly damaged. However, there was no way back to the planned route in the steep vineyard. Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia had no choice but to head for the nearby main road and drive straight back to Trier.

 

Ogier/Ingrassia will re-join the rally on Saturday. However, because they failed to complete Friday’s final special stage, they start the second leg with a ten-minute time penalty. “Under these circumstances, a top position is obviously out of reach for us now,” said the World Champion, not beating around the bush. “However, we owe it to the many Volkswagen fans to at least put on a good show.”

 

This team-mates’ misfortune leaves Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila (Polo R WRC #2) alone out front at the German round of the World Rally Championship. Their lead over Kris Meeke (Citroën) is currently 37 seconds. “That sounds more comfortable than it is,” Latvala warned. “Rain is forecast for tomorrow afternoon, and a lot can happen on the special stages on the Baumholder military training ground in the wet.“ 

 

Latvala does at least “hold all the cards”, as he put it. It is definitely up to his rivals to attack him. “If conditions become critical, I don’t always have to go flat out and take risks.” He has absolutely no intention of giving up the prospect of a first asphalt win of his career without a fight, however. “I don’t think I’ve ever driven as quickly on asphalt as I did today.”

 

Volkswagen Junior Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Ola Floene (Polo R WRC #9) are fourth after the first six special stages of the Rally Germany. “We had absolutely no problems today,” the Norwegian reported. Whether he attacks Dani Sordo (Hyundai), who is just three seconds ahead of him, on Saturday depends on the discussions to be held within the team this evening, according to Mikkelsen. “We will have to take a close look and decide what makes most sense in terms of the WRC Manufacturers’ Championship.” At the moment, the Volkswagen Motorsport II team – represented solely by Andreas Mikkelsen – is six points ahead of the Hyundai works team.


09:30 (CEST)

Attack on asphalt: World champion Ogier in the lead – Latvala hot on his heels.

A thrilling start to the three-day Rally Germany: World champion Sébastien Ogier is narrowly in the lead after the first of 18 special stages overall on Volkswagen Motorsport's home turf. The Frenchman is ahead of his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by just 0.4 seconds.

However the frontrunner was not totally happy with this result as he crossed the finish line of the 14.14-kilometre stage “Sauertal 1”: “That wasn't the best start for me, a couple of small errors cost us time. But keep cool, it was the first of the special stages, we'll do better on the next one,” said the Frenchman.

Norway's Mads Østberg (Citroën) is in third place in the overall standings, followed by Dani Sordo in Hyundai. Andreas Mikkelsen is in fifth place in the third Polo R WRC.


Friday: the special stages of the first day.

08:00 (CEST)


19:40 (CEST)

Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) may have bid farewell to any hope of winning the Rally Germany, but the pursuit of stage wins will continue when the Frenchman resumes under Rally2 regulations on Saturday. After Friday’s six special stages, it currently stands 3:3 between the World Champion and his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2).

 

After the thrilling finale at the Rally Finland, the duelling Volkswagen drivers were once again involved in a thrilling head-to-head race for long periods of day one of the Rally Germany. Ogier won the first special stage, just 0.4 seconds ahead of Latvala. The result was the same on stage two, with the championship leader this time opening up a gap of 1.7 seconds. Then it was the turn of the Finn to hit back: Latvala came home 0.3 seconds ahead of the Frenchman to win SS 3, before Ogier increased his lead over his team-mate by a further 3.8 seconds, courtesy of his third stage win on SS 4.

 

The most exciting phase of day one was still to come: Latvala won the fifth special stage by just one tenth of a second. Ogier then came off the road in the final kilometres of the opening leg. Latvala took full advantage, winning the final stage and drawing level with Ogier at three stage wins apiece at the end of day one. The team can reflect on happy pickings on the Friday of the rally: all six stage wins went to Volkswagen Motorsport.


18:45 (CEST)

Drama for Ogier, Latvala takes the lead.

The first leg came to a bitter end for World Champion Sébastien Ogier. Having led the Rally Germany going into the final stage of the day, the Frenchman had to shelve any hopes of victory for the moment. About 7.5 kilometres into the 21.02-kilometre Moselland 2 stage, Ogier and his #1 Polo R WRC came off the road and ended up in a dead-end street. The championship leader was consequently forced to retire from the stage. The good news is that both Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia are well. Both were unscathed.

 

Victory on SS 6 went to Ogier’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the #2 Polo R WRC. The Finn won the stage in a time of 12:45.8 minutes, ahead of Hyundai driver Dani Sordo (+1.4 seconds) and Kris Meeke in a Citroën (+5.6 seconds). Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen finished just behind Meeke (+5.9 seconds) in fourth place in the #9 Polo R WRC.

 

Ogier’s excursion means Latvala now tops the overall standings. With a time of 59:36.8 minutes, the Finn finds himself comfortably clear of Meeke (+37.0 seconds) in second place. Mikkelsen, in fourth place, is well placed to push for a podium after the opening day: the Norwegian is just three seconds behind third-placed Sordo.


16:40 (CEST)

The Finn responds: Latvala a blink of an eye faster than Ogier.


 

At the Rally Finland it came right down to the final metre – now Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are once again pushing each other to new levels in a thrilling duel at Volkswagen’s home event in Germany. Latvala responded to Ogier’s third stage win by setting the fastest time on the fifth special stage, coming home just a fraction ahead of his French team-mate.

 

The Finn in the #2 Polo R WRC completed the 16.40-kilometre Waxweiler 2 stage in 9:41.2 minutes, exactly one tenth of a second faster than the World Champion from France in the #1 Polo R WRC. Latvala now trails Ogier two stage wins to three in the all-Volkswagen duel at the Rally Germany. Stage six now offers the winner of the Rally Finland the final opportunity of the day to draw level in this regard. Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) was fourth fastest on stage five.

 

In the overall standings, Ogier leads with a time of 46:45.5 minutes. His lead over team-mate Latvala is now down to just 5.5 seconds. Kris Meeke (Citroën), who clocked the third fastest time behind Ogier and Latvala for the fourth time in a row on SS 5, is already more than half a minute behind the Finn. Mikkelsen climbed one place into fourth.


15:20 (CEST)

The World Champion hits back.

Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) continue to be embroiled in a thrilling duel at the top of the overall standings at the Rally Germany. After watching his Finnish team-mate clock the fastest time on SS 3, the World Champion hit back on the fourth special stage, Sauertal 2. Ogier took just 7:17.0 minutes to complete the 14.14-kilometre route, winning the stage ahead of Latvala (+3.8 seconds).

 

This was the Frenchman’s third stage win out of four so far at the 2014 Rally Germany. Andreas Mikkelsen in the #9 Polo R WRC finished behind Kris Meeke (Citroën) in fourth place. The current standings see Ogier leading the rally, followed by Latvala and Meeke.


13:10 (CEST)

Battle and one-two lead.

 

Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are in a class of their own once again.

 

It's been three weeks since the Rally Finland, but the situation at the top of the Rally Germany is identical: Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) are battling for victory and are driving in a league of their own to a certain extent. But this time it's the Frenchman leading the Finn by just 1.9 seconds, a gap that is almost as narrow as it was in Finland. Kris Meeke (Citroën) in third place is already 24 seconds behind after three special stages.

 

However, Ogier and Latvala weren't entirely happy with the chassis tuning. “The understeering is just a little bit too heavy for my liking,” said world champion Ogier. But the front runner already has an idea of how to stop his car from moving over the front wheels towards the outer edge of the bend. “I'll get the stabiliser setting changed during the midday service.”

 

While the first and third special stages in the morning loop were familiar territory for the WRC drivers, the special stage Waxweiler was completely new to them. “The stage was more slippery than I expected,” said Jari-Matti Latvala. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) slid into a kerbstone on special stage 3. “The wheel rim was damaged, but fortunately the tyre didn't lose any air,” reported the Norwegian, who, like his team-mates, rolled out of the service park with two spare tyres in his boot this morning. This minor error saw Mikkelsen slip down from third place overall into fifth.

 

In the afternoon the drivers will take on the same three special stages as in the morning. “The biggest problem will be the dirt that was flung onto the track when corners were cut,” said front runner Ogier looking ahead. The path taken by most of the other drivers goes straight through this mud. “You need to focus on sticking to the driving line, even if it is nowhere near the racing line,” said Jari-Matti Latvala, describing the correct way to drive in these conditions. “I'm not normally a fan of cutting corners, but when everyone else is doing it I have no choice.”


12:10 (CEST)

The chase through the vineyards gets underway.

Now it's down to business: After the “warm-up” of the first two special stages it's now on to the demanding part of the Rally Germany for the drivers: The narrow, winding tracks through the vineyards around Trier require the drivers to give it their all. Even a minor driving error can have disastrous consequences.

 

On the 21-kilometre special stage “Moselland 1”, Jari-Matti Latvala just snatched the best time ahead of his team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who only took 0.2 seconds longer and still leads the rally. Andreas Mikkelsen was unlucky, losing more than 14 seconds to the frontrunners due to a damaged tyre.

The best non-Volkswagen driver was Kris Meeke (Citroën), who drove the third-fastest time and is now in third place in the overall standings. He is followed by Dani Sordo (Hyundai), Mikkelsen slipped down into fifth place. After the upcoming service break, it's on to the second pass of the 14-kilometre special stage “Sauertal”.


10:50 (CEST)

A class of their own –
Volkswagen trio lead the rally.

Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are currently driving in a league of their own: Séb had the best time once again on the second special stage (Waxweiler 1), with team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala 1.7 seconds behind. Almost ten seconds off the best time was Citroën driver Kris Meeke in third place. Andreas Mikkelsen crossed the finish line 11.6 seconds slower than Séb, making him the fifth fastest on the stage.

The reason for the rapidly increasing gaps was soon clear: Almost all of the drivers who started later complained about the muddy track when they crossed the finish line – although Séb and Jari-Matti, who were first and second to take to the track, had the better hand. Unlike the gravel stages on which the drivers who start first are at a disadvantage and have to play “road sweeper”, it's the complete opposite on asphalt tracks.

The overall status after special stage 2: Séb was able to extend his lead over Latvala slightly and is now 2.1 seconds ahead. Andreas Mikkelsen has worked his way up into third place overall.

Thursday, 21.08.2014


Title dreams in Trier. The Volkswagen Motorsport drivers look forward to the Rally Germany.


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23:59 Uhr (MESZ)


14:00 (CEST)

Perfect Start.


First, second and third for Volkswagen in the Shakedown.


Dominant team performance from the Volkswagen drivers at the Shakedown ahead of the Rally Germany. Polo R WRC drivers Jari-Matti Latvala, Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen occupied the top three positions in the free practice session. Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) clocked the fastest time, 0.5 seconds quicker than world champion Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and 1.1 seconds ahead of Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9).


In a break from the norm, all three Volkswagen drivers opted not to stick to the mandatory two runs this time around. Latvala headed out four times. “I drove too aggressively on the first two attempts,” said the self-critical Finn, who won his home event last time out. “Then I changed my driving style a bit and focussed on driving a clean line. I also made minor modifications to the chassis set-up. I was immediately quicker.”


Latvala is hoping he will also be able to challenge his team-mate Ogier on the Frenchman’s favourite surface, asphalt, during the rally itself. “It all depends on whether I am able to find a good rhythm right from the start. If so, anything is possible,” the Finn predicted. He comes into the rally with his tail up following the success at his home race two weeks ago.     


Ogier also allowed himself four cracks at the Shakedown route. “The test for the Rally Germany was a few days ago. I wanted to get a perfect feel for driving on asphalt,” he said, justifying his four runs. Ogier is relishing Latvala’s challenge. “I always want to win. But the fact that this is Volkswagen’s home event gives me an extra dose of motivation.”


Mikkelsen completed the 4.6-kilometre practice route five times. “I only did a relatively short test before the rally,” explained the Norwegian. “I used the Shakedown to make a few minor adjustments to my car and to get used to the feeling of driving on asphalt stages.”


Next up is the show start, in front of the Porta Nigra. The Volkswagen aces will drive through the “Black Gate” – the 1800-year-old landmark of the city of Trier – at about 22:00.


Thursday: the Shakedown.

10:00 (CEST)

Previews

Monday, 18.08.2014


“We’ve had a score to settle with the Rally Germany since last year.”

 

Winning the Rally Germany is extremely important to Volkswagen Motorsport for several reasons.

It’s time to lift the curse: the only time a Polo R WRC driver failed to make it onto the podium in the 2013 season was at Volkswagen Motorsport’s home event in Germany. In fact, the Rally Germany is the only fixture on this year’s calendar which Volkswagen has not yet won – the Polo R WRCs have remained unbeaten for exactly one year.


Next weekend, Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1), Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) will have the chance to add a 13th victory to their existing record of twelve WRC wins in a row. “We’ve had a score to settle with the Rally Germany since last year because missing out on a podium place at our home event was particularly galling,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito.


However, there is much more at stake for Volkswagen Motorsport than simply filling a gap in their trophy collection. The team could secure an unbeatable lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship in just the ninth of this season’s 13 WRC rounds, enabling it to defend the title of World Champion long before the competition comes to an end. Volkswagen can afford to lose a maximum of three points compared to Citroën at the “Rallye Deutschland” to put it in a mathematically unbeatable position in the remaining four rallies. The German car maker goes into the rally with a lead of 175 points.   


The Stages around Trier could decide a thing or two about the drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles too. Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen hold first, second and third place ahead of the Rally Germany. Reigning World Champion Ogier currently has a 121-point lead ahead of Mads Östberg (Citroën), who follows the Volkswagen drivers in fourth place. If the Frenchman is still at least 112 points ahead of his Norwegian rival at the end of the German rally, Östberg will no longer have a chance of lifting the trophy. In this case, top-of-the-table Ogier would only face a potential threat from his team-mates Latvala and – to a lesser extent – Mikkelsen. This means that the drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles would definitely go to one of the Volkswagen pairings.


As Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito rightly says, however: “You can’t plan success in sport – and certainly not in motorsport.” The Rally Germany definitely defies prediction. Varied road conditions make the outcome of the first asphalt-only rally pretty unforeseeable. While the drivers face narrow, winding Special Stages through the vineyards along the River Mosel on Friday and Sunday, Saturday’s action centres on Baumholder military training area in Hunsrück. Originally built for heavy military vehicles, the rough concrete tracks are treacherous even in dry weather because the route is lined with anti-tank obstacles – concrete blocks set into the ground. If the event coincides with another summer storm, the otherwise dusty tracks will be as slippery as ice.


“The ‘Panzerplatte’ Special Stage has caught many drivers out in the past because it’s so tricky and treacherous,” warned the newly wed World Champion Sébastien Ogier. His team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, winner of the Rally Finland, added: “Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with the anti-tank obstacles last year when I hit a stone while I was in the lead. Needless to say, I don’t want that to happen again this year.”


18 Special Stages are scheduled with a total length of 326 kilometres. They include an all-new addition in the form of the SS Waxweiler near the German/Belgian border. The route at Baumholder military training area has been changed this year too. In addition to the challenging ‘Panzerplatte Lang’ Stage spanning over 42 kilometres, fans will be able to enjoy a shorter version, ‘Arena Panzerplatte’.


The opening show starts at 20:30 hrs on Thursday in front of the historic Porta Nigra in Trier. Before that, all of the factory drivers will be at an autograph signing from 19:00 hrs in Trier’s main market square (Hauptmarkt).

Friday, 15.08.2014


We want to continue the success.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“We want to continue the success we have enjoyed so far this season at the Rally Germany. And it is also important to make amends for last year’s miserable result by winning this time around. We have a great chance to successfully defend our World Championship title in Germany, and are determined to take this opportunity. The entire team is under greater pressure at its home event than at other rallies, but that can also be an advantage, as you are generally more focussed under these circumstances. Whatever happens, the Rally Germany will not be a stroll in the park. The ‘Panzerplatte’ stage has proved the undoing of many drivers in the past, as it is so demanding and treacherous. We also have some real asphalt specialists in the field – including Thierry Neuville, who was in contention here last year. I believe Hyundai will be very strong. And I will also be keeping an eye on Kris Meeke. He was damn quick in Finland and is very good on asphalt.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Winning the Rally Finland was very special. The fans gave me incredible support – and to win on home soil is a unique feeling. I want to take that with me into the next rally – another home event, this time for Volkswagen. One of the greatest challenges at the Rally Germany is the weather: it can be very changeable. When it rains some of the sections become very wet and thus extremely slippery, while other parts of the route are relatively dry and can be taken at high speed. That makes driving and tyre selection quite tricky. I have no problem with the surface itself – I like asphalt rallies, and particularly the character of the route on the Rally Germany. My goal is to follow on from my success at the Rally Finland and challenge for the win again – however, a top-three finish would be great.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Unfortunately I was not able to take part in the Rally Germany last year. As we did complete the ‘Recce’, however, I was able to gain a good impression of the special stages and the surface. Ola and I ought to benefit from this experience this year. In 2012 I finished sixth in a Škoda, beating several more powerful World Rally Cars in the process, so I am quite confident. I am looking forward to finally contesting Volkswagen’s home rally in the Polo R WRC. It is particularly important for Volkswagen to get a good result at the Rally Germany. Everyone involved will be particularly focussed, and the interest in the media will be huge. The many fans on the route and in the service park will once again give us fantastic support. However, the rally will by no means be easy, as the opposition is strong and it will be a completely new ball game at the first asphalt rally of the year.”

Tuesday, 12.08.2014


From the TV studio to the service park: a weathergirl at work.

 
As Volkswagen Motorsport’s weathergirl, Silke Hansen moves between the TV studio and rally tracks all over the world. In her main job, she is responsible for the weather forecasts featured in the Mittagsmagazin show on the German public broadcasting channel ARD. But Silke’s ‘job on the side’ with rally team is something that’s very close to her heart – the 45-year-old from Giessen has had a passion for motorsport for many years. Before her involvement in the WRC, Silke spent a long time observing the weather for Formula 1, working for the teams Sauber and BMW-Williams.

There’s a lot of responsibility involved in being a weather forecaster, because an accurate forecast can mean the difference between victory and defeat in a rally. For example, predicting a snowline at between 1,000 and 1,500 metres may be OK for a TV weather forecast, but that’s not accurate enough in the world of rallying – the race engineers expect much more precise details, with specific times for different places along the rally route. But the accuracy of the forecasts can vary from rally to rally, explains Silke, with the forecasts for the high altitudes in Mexico tending to be more reliable, while an unexpected summer storm may well put a spanner in the works in the vineyards of the Moselle region.

Getting up early is all part of the job since the engineers need an initial analysis first thing. During the rallies Hansen works closely with “Dakar” co-driver Timo Gottschalk, who is responsible for the weather team at Volkswagen Motorsport. This is essential for Hansen's job. To be able to say what the weather will be like, they first need to know what the current situation is – and there isn't a meteorological station everywhere. The weather team measures the temperature and wind directly at the track, and looks for clouds and rain. This gives both the drivers and Silke Hansen an idea of the conditions on site. Using the values measured by the weather team, up-to-date radar and satellite images, as well as the calculations made by a large weather computer, Hansen prepares multiple updates each day. The closer to the event that the forecast is, the more accurate it is – then it's time to rally.