Rally Great Britain 2014

 

Ogier and Ingrassia celebrate eighth win of the season at season finale.

 

Make it a dozen: in the 13th and final rally of the season, Volkswagen Motorsport scored its twelfth victory, thereby wrapping up an outstanding season in fitting form. The world champion duo Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia won in Wales with a comfortable lead over Mikko Hirvonen (Ford), with Mads Østberg (Citroën) following in third place.

 

Ogier got off to a perfect start and was able to build up a lead over his competitors in his Polo R WRC #1 over the first day of Rally Great Britain, which was characterised by slippery track conditions. Only his teammate Jari-Matti Latvala was initially able to keep pace with him, but slid off the track on the second day and therefore left it open for the reigning world champion from France to clinch his eighth win of the season.

 

Latvala of Finland did at least finish on a positive note, winning the power stage and therefore picking up three bonus points to go towards the overall rankings. Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway likewise had a very good day in Wales: he slipped around on Friday and Sunday, but experienced his best rally leg to date on the Saturday, racking up five stage wins and four second places.

Sébastien Ogier: “Finishing the season with a win is obviously the best way to do it. We weren’t under any pressure because we had already secured the championship title, and we simply wanted to enjoy Rally Great Britain. On the whole, it was another great season for Julien and me, and we had a fantastic team behind us.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala: “I have a lot to be happy with when I look back on the 2014 season: I was a serious contender for the WRC title for the first time and was able to keep it undecided for a long time. I also won my very first asphalt rally, which was an important milestone for me. My duel with Sébastien Ogier was highly exciting – and I intend to carry on in this vein in the next season.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen: “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish the season in the way that we had hoped. I would have liked to have given the team something more than two instances of slipping. But we can still be proud of our performance this season. We exceeded our own expectations by making it onto the podium five times, and third place in the drivers’ rankings behind our teammates is the best sporting result of my career to date.”

 

Jost Capito: “With twelve wins in a single season, we can certainly look back on a successful year. We can be proud of what we achieved and we enjoy every single minute of the World Rally Championship. Rally Great Britain was a great success too – Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia did everything right to achieve their eighth win of the season. But we certainly don’t intend to rest on our laurels.”


Volkswagen Motorsport celebrates twelfth victory of the season at final act. The video.


Rally Great Britain 2014: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:03:08.2    
2 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 3:03:45.8 +37.6  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:04:11.8 +1:03.6  
4 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:04:23.1 +1:14.9  
5 E. Evans / D. Barritt 3:04:32.5 +1:24.3  
6 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 3:05:11.2 +2:03.0  
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder 3:05:37.9 +2:29.7  
8 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:05:55.7 +2:47.5  
9 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 3:06:51.5 +3:43.3  
10 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 3:06:56.7 +3:48.5  

Impressions

The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2014 Rally Great Britain 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, 16.11.2014


Volkswagen Motorsport celebrates twelfth victory of the season at final act in Wales. The video highlights of the Rally Great Britain.


Aktuelle Bilder (11)
18:15 Uhr (MEZ)


Classification after 23 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:03:08.2    
2 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 3:03:45.8 +37.6  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:04:11.8 +1:03.6  
4 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:04:23.1 +1:14.9  
5 E. Evans / D. Barritt 3:04:32.5 +1:24.3  
6 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 3:05:11.2 +2:03.0  
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder 3:05:37.9 +2:29.7  
8 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:05:55.7 +2:47.5  
9 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 3:06:51.5 +3:43.3  
10 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 3:06:56.7 +3:48.5  

18:30 (CET)

Relieved and a bit tired.

The road to victory was anything but a stroll in the park for Sébastien Ogier.

He may have made it look like a piece of cake, but winner Sébastien Ogier described the 2014 Rally Great Britain as one of the toughest he has ever experienced. “That was once again a really difficult rally. Only my first outing here in 2008 was worse. Back then it actually snowed,” said the world champion after the rally. And despite holding a commanding lead over the chasing pack – at least from the ninth special stage on – the route to win number eight of the season was anything but a stroll in the park. “The conditions were extremely difficult. Our job was to cut down on the risks without being too slow or losing concentration. That was a challenge in itself.”


Julien Ingrassia joked: “On this rally we drive through a great region, which we actually only know in poor weather. I would love to come to Wales in the heat of summer.”


Ingrassia and Ogier could not deny a certain relief that the season, which began in Monte Carlo back in January, has now drawn to a close. “I am now really rather tired,” admitted Ogier, who must still wait a few weeks before he can enjoy his hard-earned holiday. “First up are a few world champion parties, which I will enjoy – and the tests for the Rally Monte Carlo, of course.


Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito was also looking ahead already. “The 2015 season is only 65 days away. Preparations are already in full swing. “ Capito also took the opportunity to bid farewell to Mikko Hirvonen and his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen, who have called time on their 13-year WRC career. “I had a fantastic time with Mikko and Jarmo at Ford, during which we won two World Championships. I will miss them both.”


18:10 (CET)

We enjoy every moment in the Championship.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“That is obviously the best way to end a season: with a win. We were under no pressure, as the World Championship was no longer at stake, and just wanted to enjoy the Rally Great Britain. We really had to go flat-out on Friday and had a close battle for the lead with my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. That allowed us to open up a big lead over the rest of our rivals. When Jari-Matti made a mistake on Saturday, it obviously completely changed the character of the rally for us. I just had to get the car to the finish line. However, that is anything but easy given the typical conditions here in Wales. All in all, it has been another magnificent season for Julien and me, with a fantastic team behind us. We now have a few tests and official parties before the Christmas holidays begin. A quick word on Mikko Hirvonen: I am delighted for him that he ended his final WRC rally on the podium. He has had a great career, and we will miss driving against him.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I can look back with great satisfaction on the 2014 season: I mounted my first serious challenge for the World Championship title, and kept the title race alive for a long time. I also won my first rally on asphalt, which was an important milestone for me. The duel with Sébastien Ogier was extremely exciting. I will carry on where I left off next season. The Rally Great Britain did not pan out as I had hoped. My goal was definitely to go for the win here in Wales. Apart from the slip-up, our pace was good. As such, I am already looking forward to next year.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“Unfortunately that was not the end to the season I had hoped for. I would have liked to have given the team something better than two offs. However, the conditions were particularly difficult and mistakes happen quicker at the Rally Great Britain than anywhere else. I am disappointed, but I believe we matched the pace of our team-mates and could have challenged for the win. Despite this disappointment, we can still be proud of what we have achieved this season. With five podiums we have exceeded our own expectations. Third place in the Drivers’ Championship is the best result of my career. I am looking forward to a bit of a rest over the coming weeks, but also to the 2015 season. We are determined to be challenging for victories and podiums right from the word go. That is my goal.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“Twelve wins in one season – we really can look back on a successful year. We can be proud of what we have achieved, and enjoy every moment in the World Rally Championship. The Rally Great Britain has also been a great success, and Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia did everything right en route to their eighth win of the season. Respect to them. In contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila, Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene did not end the season the way they had hoped. However, they can also be proud of what they have achieved. There is no chance of us resting on our laurels. The 2015 season gets underway with the Rally Monte Carlo in just 65 days, and we want to be as well prepared as possible again. Preparations have already been in full swing for a while now.”


14:20 (CET)

Thank goodness these points go towards the Drivers’ Championship, and not on a driving licence: the three Volkswagen drivers amassed a remarkable 635 points over the course of the 2014 WRC season. For comparison: last year they racked up 502 points between them. Double world champion Sébastien Ogier tops the table with 267 points in 2014. Runner-up Jari-Matti Latvala can be proud of a season that yielded 218 points – a great result for the Finn, who upped his game in 2014 and was in contention for the WRC Crown right down to the penultimate rally. Respect is also due for Andreas Mikkelsen (150 points), who really stepped up to the mark this season, scoring three times as many points as he did in 2013.


13:50 (CET)

Ogier victorious, Latvala wins Power Stage.


Terrific conclusion for Volkswagen Motorsport at the Rally Great Britain. On the closing Power Stage, Brenig 2, world champion Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 cruised to his eighth victory of the season. The champion from France wasn't chasing the bonus points.


But team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was. The Finn in the Polo R WRC #2 really went for it once again on the final 10.81 kilometres and won the Power Stage with a time of 7:04.7 minutes. Latvala ended up in eighth place in the overall standings, which saw him pick up another seven world championship points.
Ogier on the other hand celebrated a commanding victory – the eighth of this once again outstanding season. After 23 special stages he was 37.6 seconds ahead of Mikko Hirvonen in second place, who completed his final rally. Mads Østberg (Citroën) finished third.


12:45 (CET)

Latvala ready for the Power Stage.



The Finn is on fire. In the final spurt at the Rally Great Britain, Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) is once again fighting for every point. On the penultimate stage, Alwen 2, the Volkswagen driver celebrated his third stage win in a row. In 5:44.7 minutes the Finn outpaced all his rivals on the 10.04-kilometre section. It looks like Latvala will stay in eighth place in the overall standings after the 23rd and final special stage.


But the Volkswagen driver has his sights set on the three bonus points for the closing Power Stage. Team-mate Sébastien Ogier's only concern on the other hand is to bring his Polo R WRC #1 safely home. With the eleventh fastest time, the Frenchman trailed Latvala by 10.9 seconds, but still has a clear lead over his rivals in the overall standings.


11:40 (CET)

Latvala at the double.


Ahead of the final two special stages of the year, the rally drivers took to the short 2.21-kilometre section Kinmel Park twice. And the two Volkswagen drivers showed the passionate fans in Wales just what they and their Polo R WRCs are capable of.
On the first pass, Jari-Matti Latvala clocked the fastest time of 1:41.9 minutes, beating his team-mate Sébastien Ogier (+ 0.9 seconds). The Finn was even faster on the second pass, finishing in 1:40.5 minutes, and celebrated a double victory in the park – world champion Ogier was fourth with a time of 1:41.8 minutes.


The rally drivers only have about 20 timed kilometres of the season to go – and it looks like Sébastien Ogier is heading for his eighth victory of the season. In the overall standings the leading Frenchman has an advantage of more than 45 seconds over his closest rivals Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) and Kris Meeke (Citroën).


10:40 (CET)

Latvala hungry for points, luck deserts Mikkelsen again.



Who said it would be a quiet final day? Andreas Mikkelsen pushed too hard on SS 19 and paid the ultimate price: his #9 Polo R WRC skidded off the road at an extremely slippery part of the route – just a few corners before the end of the 10.04-kilometre stage. The Volkswagen driver was unable to get his car back onto the road, dashing any hopes of picking up bonus points on the Power Stage and bringing his season to a premature end.


The Norwegian’s team-mate is enjoying a much better day so far: Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) clocked the third-fastest time on Alwen 1 and was just 3.1 seconds slower than stage winner Mads Østberg (Citroën). World champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) continues to cruise through the stages, avoiding any risks. The Frenchman was ninth on SS 19, but is still well on course to secure his eighth win of the season.


10:10 (CET)

Taking it easy on the final kilometres.



The final day of the 2014 rally season is here – and the Volkswagen drivers are relaxed going into the final kilometres. Front-runner Sébastien Ogier has a reassuring lead over his rivals and took it easy on the first special stage of the day, 10.81-kilometre Brenig 1. Despite finishing more than ten seconds adrift of stage winner Mads Østberg (Citroën), the Frenchman in the Polo R WRC #1 defended his considerable lead in the overall standings.


Ogier's team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) on the other hand are still battling for stage wins. Mikkelsen came second, trailing Østberg by just 1.4 seconds, Latvala was fourth (+ 2.7 seconds).


Sunday: the special stages of the third day.

06:00 (CET)

Saturday, 15.11.2014


Mixed feelings. Day two of the Rally Great Britain was one of highs and lows for the Volkswagen drivers. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (18)
21:05 Uhr (MEZ)


Classification after 17 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:33:19.3    
2 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:34:17.4 +58.1  
3 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 2:34:20.8 +1:01.5  
4 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 2:35:00.5 +1:41.2  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:35:03.8 +1:44.5  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt 2:35:11.7 +1:52.4  
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder 2:35:52.6 +2:33.3  
8 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:36:47.4 +3:28.1  
9 H. Solberg / I. Minor 2:36:56.7 +3:37.4  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:37:13.8 +3:54.5  

21:20 (CET)

Ogier leads going into the final straight.

 

Just 46 kilometres stand between the world champion and win number eight of the season.

 

Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) can almost taste his eighth win of the year. The world champion heads into the third and final day with a 58.1-second lead over Mikko Hirvonen (Ford). “That should be enough. All I have to do tomorrow is get my car over the finish line,” said the Frenchman. Despite this, he is taking the remaining 46 kilometres seriously. As always, Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia will take a final look at the videos from the recce. “This time, however, I will spend less time focussing on improvements. It will mainly be a case of noting any dangerous spots.”

 

In contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala’s (Polo R WRC #2) goal for Sunday is to sign off from the 2014 season with a good performance. The Finn admitted losing a little motivation after Saturday’s midday break. “My mistake this morning means I can no longer set my sights on a top result. That is obviously frustrating,” he said. Only once darkness had descended did he ramp it up again, winning the final stage of the day: “It would appear that I needed that extra challenge.” His late charge was enough to see Latvala climb into eighth place.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) had a stressful Saturday afternoon. Problems with his intercom meant he was unable to hear co-driver Ola Fløene’s instructions at times. “Fortunately I knew the first stage off by heart. On the next stage, Ola held the pace notes up in such a way that I was able to read them,” said the young Volkswagen driver, describing his creative solution. They performed emergency repairs, and were at least able to restore communications between driver and co-driver to fifty per cent. The Norwegian promptly won another stage. They currently lie 44th overall after day two.


20:00 (CET)

When two feet are just not enough.


Why even the best rally drivers in the world sometimes stall their engines.


You could forgive novice drivers for making this mistake. But the best rally drivers in the world? “I stalled the engine braking on the way into a bend,” was Jari-Matti Latvala's (Polo R WRC #2) description of what triggered his slip-up on special stage 9. What appears to be a rookie mistake at first glance is down to the drive technology of the World Rally Cars, which requires impossible footwork in a production vehicle. Which is why it's not uncommon for WRC drivers to stall their engines.


Let's take a look at the technology behind a World Rally Car. Normally the clutch is only used to start the car. Then the gearbox lets you change gear without using the clutch. This means that almost all of the top drivers have used their left foot to brake for more than two decades now. “Leaving your right foot on the accelerator while doing this means that you can switch between bursts of acceleration and braking impulse much more quickly,” said Latvala.


The problem is when something goes wrong with the braking, for example, if the pressure on the brake pedal is higher than the grip that the tyres are able to build up. Then the wheels stop suddenly since the regulations prohibit the use of ABS, and the drive train connection causes the engine to stop. Usually you would quickly put your foot on the clutch to defuse the situation. But the left foot is on the brake – an impasse. If there's enough road, taking your foot off the brake usually solves the problem. The wheels start moving again and the engine kicks in. Every car driver is familiar with the principle from push starting a car with a “dead” battery: put the car into second gear and use the clutch.


Jari-Matti Latvala was unfortunate that the surface was too slippery for this alternative in that turn on special stage 9. He took his foot off the brake, but the wheels didn't have enough traction to overcome the resistance of the stalled engine. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine of the Polo R WRC refused to restart. And when the Finn really needed engine power to use the 4-wheel drive to avoid the imminent slip-up, the accelerator had no effect. “We spun backwards into a ditch,” he said. “Fortunately spectators pushed us back onto the track quickly.” However, this took around three minutes.


19:40 (CET)

The end of the 2014 World Rally Championship is in sight. Just 46.12 kilometres stand between the drivers and the end of the season. Sébastien Ogier is perfectly placed to round off a remarkable year with another success. The Volkswagen driver in the #1 Polo R WRC had already secured his second successive WRC title with races to spare, courtesy of victory at the Rally Spain. He is now odds on favourite to end the season in customary fashion – with a win. This would be his eighth victory of the year.


Going into the final leg in Wales, Ogier holds a 58.1-second lead over second-placed Mikko Hirvonen. In theory, the Frenchman can afford to lose over a second per kilometre, or just short of ten seconds per special stage to the Ford drivers – and still win.


19:04 (CET)

Latvala back on track.



 

That’s more like it. Jari-Matti Latvala hit back in the dark on day two of the rally in Wales. After his frustrating crash on the second morning, the Volkswagen driver in the #2 Polo R WRC bounced back to clock the fastest time on the day’s final stage, SS 17. Latvala covered the 19.98 kilometres that make up Dyfnant 2 in just 11:50.6 minutes to finish just ahead of his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). World champion Sébastien Ogier came home fifth, exactly five seconds slower than the stage winner.


Latvala’s stage win sees him climb another place in the overall standings. The Finn has now fought his way back to eighth and has the potential to improve his position again over the course of Sunday’s final six stages. Out in front, Ogier continues to hold a commanding lead over the opposition. Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) and Kris Meeke (Citroën) are about a minute adrift of the Volkswagen driver in second and third place respectively.


18:05 (CET)

High five!



 

A tale of ifs and buts: today’s outstanding performance from Andreas Mikkelsen has only made the consequences of Friday’s mistake all the more painful. The Norwegian in the #9 Polo R WRC racked up his fifth stage win of the day on Aberhirnant 2. The Volkswagen driver completed the 13.87-kilometre SS 16 in a time of 7:48.2 minutes. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) was third fastest, behind Mikko Hirvonen (Ford). World champion Sébastien Ogier in the #1 Polo R WRC coasted home 7.3 seconds behind Mikkelsen in seventh place.


The Frenchman can continue to cruise through the Rally Great Britain. With just one more stage to come on Saturday, Ogier still holds a lead of a good minute over his rivals. Hirvonen and Kris Meeke (Citroën) are battling for second and third place. Latvala has climbed one position into ninth place.


17:00 (CET)

No risk – but still fun.



 

Sébastien Ogier continues to coast untroubled towards victory at the Rally Great Britain. The Volkswagen driver in the #1 Polo R WRC enjoys the relative comfort of a commanding lead at the top of the overall standings, and had no need to take any unnecessary risks on special stages 14 and 15. Despite this, the Frenchman still had plenty of fun, thanks partly to the better conditions: “You can play around with the car and are not fighting with the steering wheel all the time.”


Ogier was fourth on the 8.25-kilometre Clocaenog East 2 (SS 14) and eighth on SS 15 – the 13.74-kilometre Clocaenog Main 2. Meanwhile, Andreas Mikkelsen was having an even better time in the #9 Polo R WRC. The Norwegian continues to put his foot down and finished second on SS 14, just 1.4 seconds behind Kris Meeke (Citroën). The Volkswagen driver again had to play second fiddle to just one other WRC driver on the 15th special stage: only Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) denied Mikkelsen his fifth stage win of the day. The third man in the trio of Volkswagen drivers, Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2), finished eleventh and tenth.


After 2:13:28.2 hours of driving, Ogier continues to lead the Hirvonen and Meeke by over a minute. Latvala is currently tenth and still well placed to pick up World Championship points at the season finale in Wales.


Classification after 13 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:00:22.6    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 2:01:32.7 +1:10.1  
3 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:01:33.4 +1:10.8  
4 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 2:01:34.1 +1:11.5  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:01:56.1 +1:33.5  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt 2:02:11.3 +1:48.7  
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder 2:02:52.3 +2:29.7  
8 H. Solberg / I. Minor 2:03:04.7 +2:42.1  
9 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:03:36.8 +3:14.2  
10 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:03:56.0 +3:33.4  

15:30 (CET)

Mikkelsen's driving strategy is “All for Ola”.

 

Shock for Jari-Matti Latvala, relaxation for Sébastien Ogier.


The team battle has been decided. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) is all on his own at the top going into Saturday's lunch break; the three rivals chasing him are already more than a minute adrift. “Jari-Matti's slip-up this morning changed everything,” said the world champion as he arrived at the service break. “I don't need to fight for every second anymore, I can be more relaxed with my driving.” But the afternoon's four special stages won't be a walk in the park. “The conditions are still extremely difficult. If you lose concentration for a second, you'll end up in the ditch.”


Just like Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) in the morning just over halfway through special stage 9. “I risked everything on the attack to catch Sébastien. The track was much more slippery than expected on braking going into a right-hander. I got a real shock,” admitted the Finn who was second at this point and trailing by just 6.6 seconds. The tyres locked and the Polo R WRC skidded into the ditch. Latvala was able to use the handbrake to turn the car at the last minute, but wasn't able to avoid sliding.


“Unfortunately our car's spoiler was in the bush, which meant that the spectators weren't able to push,” co-driver Miikka Anttila went on to say. “They followed my instructions and pulled the front of the car this way and that until the front wheels had enough grip and Jari-Matti was able to drive out of the ditch.” The rear wing stayed on the track – and they lost more than three minutes. “My car was really difficult to drive on the fast sections without a rear wing. Then later on I damaged a damper on a stone, today is not my day at all,” said Latvala. The Finn is currently tenth overall.

Andreas Mikkelsen's (Polo R WRC #9) motto since his restart after retiring on Friday is “All for Ola”. Two things need to happen for his co-driver Ola Fløene to secure third place in the co-drivers' world championship: Mikkelsen/Fløene need to win the “Power Stage” on Sunday to bag the reward of three championship points. And Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) needs to finish outside of the top ten. His co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen is currently third in the co-drivers' standings, two points ahead of Fløene.
The first part of the plan could work, Mikkelsen was the fastest driver in the field with four out of five possible best times. But it's not looking good for the second part. Hirvonen was part of the trio fighting for second place in the morning.


13:50 (CET)

Flat out through the park.

 

The park stage had one last small surprise in store before the competitors headed into the midday break: rally veteran Henning Solberg (Ford) was marginally quicker than youngster Andreas Mikkelsen to earn the first non-Volkswagen stage win of the event on the two-kilometre “Chirk Castle” stage. The Norwegian in the Polo R WRC was once again in dazzling form and was just 0.2 seconds slower than his compatriot.

 

Seb continues to lead the overall standing by more than a minute. His closest rival is now Mads Østberg (Citroën), who has climbed above Mikko Hirvonen and is now just ahead of the Ford man.


12:30 (CET)

His Lordship’s guest.

Stages in stately parks are a long-standing tradition at the Rally Great Britain.

Previously they were special features of the Rally Great Britain – short special stages in the usually sleepy parks that surround impressive manors or castles. In 1971 the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) devised the “Spectator Stages”. The idea behind this was to make the rally accessible to fans who were put off from trekking kilometres through forest paths in the pouring rain and ankle-deep mud to reach obscure spectator viewing areas.


Some years the entire first day of the event that was called the RAC Rally back then took place in the parks that were made available by state organisations such as the National Trust or private owners. The idea worked. Castle Combe, Sutton Park, Margam Park and the race tracks Oulton Park, Donington and even Silverstone attracted thousands of fans.


Whereas the drivers had something of an ambivalent attitude towards the special stages that were just a few kilometres long, and to add insult to injury, were mostly asphalt. They disparagingly referred to the sprints as “Mickey Mouse stages”. But the park stages had plenty of hidden traps. Some of the favourites to win were caught out by cutting corners on extremely filthy asphalt tracks, deep waterholes, or unyielding track barriers before they even made it to the “real” gravel stages in Kielder Forest or other dark forests.


When the rally moved to Wales more than a decade ago, the number of park stages was reduced, for a few years they were even removed from the schedule entirely. In 2013 they made a comeback with the special stages in Chirk Castle and Kinmel Park. The organisers have gone one step further than in the 1980s and have set up a “RallyFest” near the stages, with shooting ranges, merry-go-rounds and other attractions.


The fans love it. In 2013 the park stages were overrun, resulting in total gridlock and delays. The organisers learned from this. The number of tickets for 2014 was limited and a traffic management system was devised. Radio announcements urged only those with a ticket to make the journey – the park stages “Chirk Castle” on Saturday and “Kinmel Park” on Sunday are sold out.


12:10 (CET)

One man’s joy …

… is another man's sorrow. While Andreas Mikkelsen is really going for it here, Jari-Matti Latvala is battling with a damaged car. On the twelfth special stage (Dyfnant 1) Mikkelsen was the fastest man for the fourth time in a row on Saturday. “The car is driving really well, it's so much fun here,” said the Norwegian, beaming at the finish line.

Rally leader Sébastien Ogier, who doesn't need to take any more risks, was 6.3 seconds adrift and crossed the finish line of this stage in ninth. After his misfortune this morning, team-mate Latvala is hoping that the lunchtime service will get his damaged Polo R WRC back on form.


11:15 (CET)

Hat-trick for Mikkelsen –
the leader stays cool.

After his bad luck yesterday, one of the drivers is really going for it in Great Britain. Andreas Mikkelsen, who started under Rally 2 regulations today has already clocked his third best time of the day. On special stage 11 (Aberhirnant 1), the Norwegian in the Polo R WRC #9 crossed the line 6.8 seconds faster than the second-fastest driver Mads Østberg (Citroën) – a fantastic performance. However, the time he lost yesterday means that Mikkelsen is still way off the top ten.

Unsurprisingly, overall leader Sébastien Ogier, who now leads the overall standings by more than a minute after Jari-Matti Latvala's loss of time, has stopped pushing and is taking it a bit easier. Meanwhile, Latvala doesn't seem able to shake off his run of bad luck – it looks like the Finn has now damaged the front right suspension of his Polo R WRC. The world championship runner took 13.4 seconds longer than Mikkelsen to reach the finish line.


10:00 (CET)

The Finn’s frustration.

Jari-Matti Latvala wasn't prepared for this. The first special stage of Saturday's rally action (Clocaenog East 1) was disastrous for the Finn in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC. The World Rally Car of the man from Finland slid straight into a ditch in a bend – resulting in a hefty loss of more than three minutes. As if that weren't enough, the rear spoiler broke on the following tenth special stage (Clocaenog Main 1) when the car scraped a bush. “The car is extremely difficult to drive without a spoiler. Obviously we can't go on the attack like this,” explained a disappointed Jari-Matti at the finish.

And naturally it was Sébastien Ogier who benefitted from this drama. The front runner now leads by more than a minute ahead of Mikko Hirvonen (Ford), who is bidding farewell to the WRC this weekend. Britain's Kris Meeke (Citroën) is in third, followed by his team-mate Mads Østberg.


Saturday: the special stages of the second day.

06:00 (CET)

Friday, 14.11.2014


Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala stage a gripping team battle in adverse conditions. Friday’s action. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (20)
20:49 Uhr (MEZ)


Classification after 8 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:26:28.9    
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:26:35.5 +6.6  
3 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 1:27:42.7 +1:13.8  
4 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 1:27:50.4 +1:21.5  
5 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 1:27:51.1 +1:22.2  
6 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1:28:02.8 +1:33.9  
7 E. Evans / D. Barritt 1:28:19.2 +1:50.3  
8 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder 1:28:58.3 +2:29.4  
9 H. Solberg / I. Minor 1:29:08.4 +2:39.5  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 1:29:18.7 +2:49.8  

20:15 (CET)

The duel that just keeps on giving.

Team-mates separated by just 6.6 seconds after day one.

The duelling Volkswagens continue to thrill the countless fans lining the stages at the Rally Great Britain. Leader Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and his closest rival Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) both ended Friday’s leg with four stage wins to their name. A thrilling afternoon saw Latvala cut his team-mate’s lead to just 6.6 seconds on the afternoon loop. The rest of the field already trails the two Polo R WRCs by over a minute.


“The afternoon was certainly not as comfortable as the morning,” said Ogier. “The stages were so cut up second time round that it was a real struggle at the wheel. That had little to do with driving in the end.”


To make matters worse, the ideal line had become extremely smooth in many places, as little gravel remained to cover the hard surfaces. “It is almost as though the racing line has been polished. That results in extreme understeer,” said Latvala, describing the problems encountered in the afternoon. The Finn was fortunate to have made it through the day in one piece. “This morning I pushed hard. It was a case of ‘all or nothing’. I was probably a little too aggressive. Not only did I have a big moment, but I also lost time as a result. Only when I eased off a little did the times improve.”


However, the Finn failed to unravel another mystery. “When I compare my splits with those of Sébastien, I usually lose time in the second half of stages. I don’t know why,” Latvala revealed upon arriving at the evening service.


Ogier is confident he can defend his slender lead over team-mate Latvala on Saturday. “It will certainly be hard work, but I have a bit left in reserve,” said the world champion, before heading off for his debriefing with the engineers.


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9), whose opening day came to a premature end after skidding off on the second stage, will rejoin the action with a repaired car on Saturday. However, he will be hampered by a 30-minute penalty received for missing six special stages.


09:15 (CET)

Champion makes opening mark.


The season finale is underway! At the Rally Great Britain the WRC drivers take to the final 23 special stages of 2014. And the event in Wales couldn't have got off to a better start for the Volkswagen Motorsport team; world champion Sébastien Ogier drove the best time on the 14.58-kilometre special stage Gartheiniog 1.

 

The Frenchman in the Polo R WRC #1 took 8:34.3 minutes on the slippery surface and crossed the finish line 4.5 seconds ahead of team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) finished third, rounding off the perfect opener for Volkswagen Motorsport. The Finn trailed Mikkelsen by just a tenth of a second.

 


Friday: the special stages of the first day.

06:00 (CET)


17:30 (CET)

The World Championship titles are no longer up for grabs, so there is nothing at stake at the final rally of the year in Great Britain. You have got to be kidding! Anyone who honestly believed that the round in Wales was going to be boring could not have been more wrong. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are embroiled in an enthralling and thrilling battle for the win at the prestigious final event of the season.
 
The two Volkswagen drivers each won four of the opening day’s eight special stages, leaving us in the odd situation of having a ‘tie’ as the number of the day. After Ogier had led 3:1 on stage wins after the morning’s play, Latvala hit back in the afternoon with three wins of his own to Ogier’s one.
 
The extent to which the two Volkswagen drivers dominated day one of the Rally Great Britain was not only evident in the fact that they won every single stage between them, but also the manner in which they did so. They opened an impressive lead over their rivals on every stage, leaving the first driver not in a Polo R WRC over a minute adrift in the overall standings by the end of the opening leg.


16:45 (CET)

Jari-Matti Latvala throws down the gauntlet.


What looked this morning like becoming a one man show featuring a certain Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) developed into an enthralling duel on Friday afternoon: as he has done so often this season, team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) is asking some serious questions of the world champion – an all-Volkswagen battle for victory at the Rally Great Britain is in full swing.


Latvala followed his win on SS 7 with his fourth win on stage eight, the final stage of the day. The Finn’s time of 8:07.5 minutes was the fastest on the 12.86-kilometre Maesnant 2 stage. Ogier came home just two tenths of a second slower in second place, followed by Kris Meeke (Citroën) in third.


With a time of 1:26:28.9 hours, world champion Ogier continues to hold a slender lead over his closest rival Latvala. However, that gap is now down to just 6.6 seconds. The Volkswagen duo is followed in third place by Mikko Hirvonen. The Ford driver, who will call time on his career after this rally, is already over a minute adrift of Ogier and Latvala.


16:20 (CET)

The tug-of-war continues at the top.


It is nip and tuck between Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) on day one of the Rally Great Britain. The Frenchman did manage to defend his slender lead over the Finn on the seventh special stage, but the two Volkswagen drivers continue to trade stage wins.


Ogier, with four stage wins to his name so far, had to concede defeat to Latvala for the third time today on the 23.55-kilometre stage Hafren Sweet Lamb 2. The Finn clocked the fastest time of 14:00.7 minutes on the penultimate stage of the opening leg. Ogier trailed his team-mate by just four tenths of a second. Citroën driver Kris Meeke was third.

 

Ogier tops the overall standings with a time of 1:18:21.2 hours, with Latvala 6.8 seconds back. Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) in third place is already a further 1:04.4 minutes behind the Finn.


15:05 (CET)

In a league of their own.


Ogier, Ogier, Latvala, Ogier, Latvala, Ogier – the list of stage winners so far on day one of the Rally Great Britain has a rather familiar ring to it. The Volkswagen drivers and the Polo R WRC consistently outperformed their rivals on the opening six of this year’s 23 stages. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala have so far left the rest of the field trailing in their wake.

 

Victory on the 21.90-kilometre sixth stage, “Dyfi 2”, saw Ogier strengthen his grip on the overall lead after 1:04:20.1 hours of driving. Hot on his heels is team-mate Latvala, who finished runner-up on the sixth stage of the day and now lies 7.2 seconds adrift of the world champion.

 

The two Volkswagen drivers have already opened a sizeable gap at the top of the standings, courtesy of victories on each of the first five stages of the rally. Third place on SS 6 was enough for Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) to climb into third place overall – but still more than a minute behind Ogier.


14:30 (CET)

The head-to-head race goes on.

What a spectacular start to Friday afternoon at the Rally Great Britain. World champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) lost 5.7 seconds to his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala on the fifth special stage Gartheiniog 2 after “a few minor errors”. The Finn drove the fastest time of 8:48.6 minutes on the 14.58-kilometre section. Citroën driver Kris Meeke (+ 6.2 seconds) was the third to cross the finish line, behind the two Volkswagen drivers.

 

Ogier is still in the lead in the overall standings after five of 23 special stages. However, he now only has an advantage of 3.8 seconds over his team-mate Latvala. Mads Østberg (Citroën) in third is already trailing the leading Volkswagen duo by more than 40 seconds.


11:05 (CET)

Latvala isn’t letting Ogier pull away.

 

On the first two special stages it looked like world champion Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 was going it alone. But team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) is nowhere near ready to surrender at the Rally Great Britain. On the third special stage the Finn got his first best time of the day. Latvala took 13:39.1 minutes to complete the 23.55-kilometre special stage Hafren Sweet Lamb 1, making him 2.2 seconds faster than Ogier.

 

Mads Østberg (Citroën) drove the third fastest time, but he trailed the Frenchman by ten seconds. Unfortunately Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen was unable to start the third special stage. After his slip-up on the second special stage, the Norwegian won't restart until Saturday, when he will drive under Rally 2 regulations.

 

In the overall standings Ogier's time of 34:41.5 minutes sees him narrowly ahead of team-mate Latvala (+6.7 seconds). Østberg in third trails the leading Volkswagen drivers by more than half a minute.


09:50 (CET)

Ogier and Latvala still strong, Mikkelsen unlucky.


Things are still running smoothly for the world champion. On the second special stage at the Rally Great Britain, Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 got the best time. The Volkswagen driver took 12:25.9 minutes to complete the 21.90-kilometre special stage Dyfi 2. The Frenchman was 4.3 seconds faster than team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2), who drove the second-fastest time. Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen (+13.1 seconds) finished third.


However, the third Volkswagen driver was extremely unlucky. Andreas Mikkelsen slipped up in difficult conditions and lost more than two and a half minutes to his two team-mates. It's not yet known whether the Norwegian's Polo R WRC #9 is seriously damaged.

 

 

Thursday, 13.11.2014


The Volkswagen Motorsport drivers are looking forward to the final event of the season, Rally Great Britain. The video.


13:00 (CET)

Perfect warm-up – three Polo R WRCs out in front.

Mikkelsen goes fastest in Shakedown, followed by team-mates Ogier and Latvala.

The Volkswagen trio appears to be perfectly prepared for the season finale. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) clocked the fastest time of 2:01.3 minutes on the Shakedown stage ahead of the Rally Great Britain. Second and third place went to team-mates Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2), who set identical times (2:01.6 minutes). Ex-Formula one driver Robert Kubica (Ford) was fourth (2:02.2 minutes).


“I tried out two different set-ups,” said Mikkelsen. “I preferred the second.” A glance at the list of times backs up the Norwegian’s instinct – Mikkelsen set his fastest time on the third of four runs on the 3.22-kilometre stage.
Latvala also allowed himself four runs. “During the tests in the run-up to the rally, it was predominantly dry so I was driving with a relatively hard chassis set-up. Since then, however, the forest roads have become quite muddy. As such, the chassis must be given a softer set-up. I tried that out in the Shakedown.”


And something else attracted the Finn’s attention. “The grip conditions are changing more frequently than I am used to. You have to readjust in nearly every corner.” When it comes to the Wales Rally GB, Latvala is one of the most experienced drivers around. “I have driven here every year since 2002. This is one of my favourite rallies.”  


Sébastien Ogier was the only Volkswagen driver to call it a day after the minimum two runs. “My car’s set-up is perfect, so there was no reason to continue. I preferred to save my tyres,” the world champion explained.


The Wales Rally GB officially gets underway with the ceremonial start in Conwy on Thursday evening (from 19:00 local time). The first special stage begins at 07:44 on Friday morning.


Thursday: the shakedown.

06:00 (CET)

Previews

Monday, 10.11.2014


14:24 (CET)

“I want to go one better this time around.” Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“We achieved the biggest goal of the season at the Rally Spain, so the pressure is off. I want to enjoy the last rally of the season, which means getting a good result. Our tests in Wales mean we have prepared perfectly for the complex conditions. The unpredictable weather, in particular, makes the Rally Great Britain very complicated and a real challenge. Experience shows that every driver wants to end the season as strongly as possible at the final rally of the year, before heading into the well-earned break. I can well imagine that Jari-Matti will be looking to celebrate his third win of the season in Wales.”


Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Last year I finished runner-up behind Sébastien. I want to go one better this time around. That would be a really nice way to end the season. I like the Rally Great Britain, because it is so demanding. The special stages are very quick, and demand a flowing driving style. They head through forests, in which there is often a lot of fog, which hampers vision. It rains a lot there at this time of year, which often makes the gravel roads into a real mud-bath. We have even had snow on one occasion in the past, which made it even more slippery. Because the rally is so demanding, you can make up an awful lot of time with a good drive. The Rally Great Britain is the perfect way to end the season.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I want to end the season with a really good result. The Rally Great Britain is particularly dear to my heart, as this is where my career began back in 2006. Since then, it has been like a home rally for me. I feel right at home in Wales, and am very familiar with the conditions. I am optimistic that I might even claim the first WRC win of my career here. Despite this, I will not risk everything to get my first victory. This will come anyway sooner or later. However, the current situation in the championship means I will take a few more risks than usual. Having said that, I must also consider my co-driver Ola Fløene in Wales, who is currently fourth in the Co-Drivers’ Championship, just two points behind Mikko Hirvonen’s co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen. Hopefully we can do something about that.”

Friday, 07.11.2014


16:00 (CET)

Get ready for the final.

The championship titles have already been clinched. So there’s now only one thing that matters in the UK – winning the rally.

The drivers have done their duty. So now they can simply demonstrate their driving skills. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) has already reclaimed the world championship title*, and second and third place overall have likewise already been secured, by Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) respectively. There therefore won’t be any tactics involved in the proceedings at Rally Great Britain (which officially goes by the name of Wales Rally GB) next weekend – all that matters in the final event of the season is scoring the win.


This is an interesting situation ahead of one of the toughest rallies of the season. The teams will have more to contend with than merely gravel tracks that will be sodden in Wales come the end of November. An extra adrenalin rush will be provided by the fog and by the later sunrise and earlier onset of dusk than in other rallies. “This combined with the high speeds results in quite a demanding mix,” says last year’s winner Ogier.


The Frenchman is again one of the favourites to win, alongside his teammate Latvala, who won the traditional season finale in both 2011 and 2012. The illustrious circle also includes Mikko Hirvonen of Finland and driving for Ford, who has won this rally before, in 2009, and who will be retiring from the World Rally Championship at the end of the season. All three drivers will be going all out to win the rally – with all the risks that involves.


This could allow Andreas Mikkelsen to hit the finish ramp as the ‘happy fourth-placed driver’ in the morbidly charming seaside town of Llandudno in the north of Wales. The 25-year-old Norwegian has finished in second place on three occasions already this season, and also finished in third place twice. It’s therefore clearly only a matter of time before this junior Volkswagen Motorsport driver scores his first WRC victory. What’s more, Mikkelsen is already very familiar with Rally Great Britain, having competed there on four previous occasions. He came fifth in the Polo R WRC in 2013. “This is one of my favourite rallies. I like the difficult conditions and the high speed.”


The 13th WRC event of the 2014 season is relatively compact. In addition to the shakedown, the only thing scheduled for the Thursday is the start of the show in the picturesque seaside resort of Colwyn Bay. On the Friday (first special stage at 07:44 local time) and Saturday, the action will primarily be deep in the forests and will feature partially modified classic stages such as Sweet Lamb, Dyfi, Clocaenog and Dyfnant. And on the Sunday, there will be short stages in the parks totalling just 41 kilometres, giving the spectators better access to them. In all, there will be 23 stages over a total distance of 308 kilometres. The finish ramp will be in the middle of Llandudno’s high street, which will be closed to traffic especially for the occasion, with the first car expected to arrive at 13:20 on Sunday.