Rally Monte Carlo 2013

 

Great start in the WRC: Second place in the toughest “Monte” of recent years.


Volkswagen succeeded in securing a place on the winners’ rostrum at its very first attempt in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Sébastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia impressively clinched second place in their Polo R WRC. In addition to their excellent overall ranking, Ogier and Ingrassia also scored two stage best times. In the end, the only driver to be quicker was world champion Sébastien Loeb (F, Citroën).


As such, it was a beaming Sébastien Ogier who appeared in front of the cameras: “I have never been as happy with finishing runner-up as I am today. To land on the podium on our first appearance with the Polo R WRC is just fantastic. Those were probably the worst conditions I have ever experienced at the Rally Monte Carlo.”

It’s a success that’s all the more rewarding considering the tough conditions: a mix of snow, ice and wet asphalt made the 2013 event the toughest Rally Monte Carlo of recent years. And this unfortunately proved to be the downfall of the second Volkswagen Polo R WRC driven by Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland. A place in the top five was as good as in the bag, but Latvala had to withdraw on the last day.


“There was more wet slush than I expected on the first run of the Col de Turini stage. I was too quick right from the start, the car did not respond as I expected, and I had a big impact. One of the other cars had slid off there before me, and I ended up in his tracks. There was nothing I could do.” Chin up, Jari-Matti, you still put in an impressive performance.

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito was thrilled by this unexpected success: “The team has done a fantastic job over the last four days of rallying, and the cars were perfectly prepared. There were no mistakes and not even the slightest problem.”


Strong debut on the Rally Monte Carlo. The video.


Rally Monte Carlo 2013: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Loeb / D. Elena 5:18:57.2    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 5:20:37.1 +1:39.9  
3 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 5:22:46.2 +3:49.0  
4 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 5:24:23.5 +5:26.3  
5 B. Bouffier / X. Panserie 5:27:10.3 +8:13.1  
6 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson 5:31:00.9 +12:03.7  
7 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 5:42:24.5 +23:27.3  
8 S. Wiegand / F. Christian 5:48:31.7 +29:34.5  
9 O. Burri / G Duval 5:54:35.4 +35:38.2  
10 M. Kosciuszko / M. Szczepaniak 5:55:25.2 +36:28.0  

Impressions

The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2013 Rally Monte Carlo 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, 20.01.2013

 


14:00

Volkswagen team celebrates its first podium finish in the WRC.


Congratulations, Séb and Julien; that really was pretty spectacular, boys! In their debut race in the WRC, the premier league of rally sport, the Ogier/Ingrassia partnership was able to secure its first podium finish. The team turned in a commanding performance to finish in second place. It goes without saying that there was a fantastic atmosphere at the presentation ceremony in Monte Carlo. A great start to the season – let’s keep it up!

Saturday, 19.01.2013

 


23:04

What a debut: Second place in the toughest month in recent years.

Impressive performance: Volkswagen has made it onto the podium on its very first start in FIA World Rally Championship. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia finished runner-up in their Polo R WRC in impressive style. And the success was all the sweeter given the perilous conditions. A difficult mixture of snow, ice and wet tarmac made this year’s Rally Monte Carlo the toughest in recent history – and also sealed the fate of the second Volkswagen WRC crew of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, who unfortunately crashed out on the final leg whilst on course for a top-five finish.

As well as an outstanding overall position, Ogier and Ingrassia also won two stages. When it came down to it, only nine-time world champions Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (F/MC, Citroën) were faster. As such, it was a beaming Sébastien Ogier who appeared in front of the cameras: “I have never been as happy with finishing runner-up as I am today. To land on the podium on our first appearance with the Polo R WRC is just fantastic. Those were probably the worst conditions I have ever experienced at the Rally Monte Carlo.”

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito was thrilled by this unexpected success: “The team has done a fantastic job over the last four days of rallying, and the cars were perfectly prepared. There were no mistakes and not even the slightest problem.”

Jari-Matti Latvala’s disappointment was clear to all after his retirement from the race. Together with co-driver Miikka Anttila he slid off the route in the Polo R WRC and crashed into the barriers: “There was more wet slush than I expected on the first run of the Col de Turini stage. I was too quick right from the start, the car did not respond as I expected, and I had a big impact. One of the other cars had slid off there before me, and I ended up in his tracks. There was nothing I could do.” Chin up, Jari-Matti, you still put in an impressive performance. Let’s do it again: the next challenge awaits the Volkswagen team at the second WRC round of the year, from 7th to 10th February 2013 in Sweden.

Rally Monte Carlo: Overall classification

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Loeb / D. Elena 5:18:57.2    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 5:20:37.1 +1:39.9  
3 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 5:22:46.2 +3:49.0  
4 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 5:24:23.5 +5:26.3  
5 B. Bouffier / X. Panserie 5:27:10.3 +8:13.1  
6 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson 5:31:00.9 +12:03.7  
7 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 5:42:24.5 +23:27.3  
8 S. Wiegand / F. Christian 5:48:31.7 +29:34.5  
9 O. Burri / G Duval 5:54:35.4 +35:38.2  
10 M. Kosciuszko / M. Szczepaniak 5:55:25.2 +36:28.0  

 


 


Interview with Sébastien Ogier

“The first time I’ve been happy with second place.”

The Volkswagen works driver talks about the impressive competitive debut of the Polo R WRC at the Rally Monte Carlo:

Congratulations on a perfect start to the 2013 season. Did you believe, before the start of the Rally Monte Carlo, that you would finish runner-up at the first attempt?
Sébastien Ogier: I really had no idea how well we would fair. The Rally Monte Carlo was the first time we had come up against the opposition in direct competition. Up until then we had only been able to compare data from the test drives with that from the Skoda Fabia S2000, with which I contested the whole of last season.

How significant is this result for the rest of the season?
Sébastien Ogier: The Rally Monte Carlo and the forthcoming Rally Sweden are so unique that neither really give a very accurate indication of our performance. We will have to wait for the first gravel rally to really gain any significant insight into what kind of performance we are capable of.

What was going through your head as you lined up at the start of the opening special stage of the Rally Monte Carlo?
Sébastien Ogier: That was the moment I had been working towards for an entire year. As such, I was a bit nervous and my adrenalin levels were quite high.



Were you surprised when you immediately won the Polo R WRC’s first special stage in the World Championship?
Sébastien Ogier: I did not receive any split times in the car throughout the stage, so I did not know how fast we were until we reached the finish. That was a great moment.

How difficult was the 2013 Rally Monte Carlo?
Sébastien Ogier: Unbelievably difficult. This was the first time I had driven here in a World Rally Car. Some special stages were completely new to me. This meant I was only able to rely on a limited amount of experience from past appearances. Selecting the right tyre and evaluating the conditions out on the course correctly was really complicated under these circumstances.

After the first day, the gap to Sébastien Loeb barely changed for the rest of the rally. Why was that?
Sébastien Ogier: We started the first day as the eighth car out on the course – seven places behind Sébastien Loeb. That was a disadvantage in the afternoon, as the conditions deteriorated significantly with every competitor. As a result, we lost almost a minute and a half on Loeb. As of the second leg, we started straight after him. From then on our times were more or less identical. 
    
What does second place mean to you?
Sébastien Ogier: I think this is the first time that I’ve been happy with second place. I am normally only satisfied if I win.

The only man who finished ahead of you is Sébastien Loeb, and he will not be starting at every round of the World Championship. That makes you one of the favourites for the title ...
The title is not our goal this year. Our initial priority is to gain as much experience as possible at all the rallies.

 


20:37

Final two stages cancelled – Ogier/Ingrassia score a fantastic second place overall.

The extremely challenging conditions simply proved too difficult, causing the finals two stages to be officially cancelled for safety reasons – a decision welcomed by all teams.

That means: On its debut in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship, Team Volkswagen Motorsport has scored a podium place – Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured a fantastic second place overall in the #8 Polo R WRC. Heartiest congratulations, guys!


18:45

“Make the finish.”

Frozen stages, snowstorms, zero visibility: The 2013 Rallye Monte Carlo has taxed crews to the maximum. While Jari-Matti Latvala was forced to retire after inflicting irreparable damage on his Polo R WRC after a crash, team-mate Sébastien Ogier continues to fight his way through the Alpes Maritimes. On the 16th stage the Frenchman posted the second-fastest time, four seconds adrift of leader Sébastien Loeb. Ogier remains an impressive second overall, 1:39.9 minutes behind Loeb. “Today’s stages are extremely difficult,” Oger summarised the conditions, “and I aim to make the finish.”


16:40

Snow drifts, roaring engines and

thrilling blows between two Frenchmen.

Francois Chalonse has been a rally fan for years. “Armed with the new WRC Polo, Ogier has the right tools to make the WRC exciting again. I am already looking forward to the coming rounds,” says the 48-year-old. He is right – the number one Volkswagen driver is hot on the heels of his compatriot and record world champion Sebastien Loeb.

That opinion is shared by all the spectators assembled on the specially erected grandstands. The remainder of over 1,000 are watching from the woodland lining the left and right of the route. Every WRC driver is cheered on enthusiastically. None more so, however, than the leading French duo of Sebastien Loeb and Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier. Rain and cold? That doesn’t seem to interest anyone up here.


16:05

Bad luck for Latvala: crash on SS 14.


The 2013 Rally Monte Carlo is over for Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. In very difficult conditions, the duo in the #7 Polo R WRC came off the snow-covered route on the 14th special stage (Moulinet - La Bollen Vesubie). Both drivers emerged uninjured. The special regulations for the “Monte” mean the “Rally” rule does not apply here, so a restart is unfortunately not possible.


Sébastien Ogier, who finished third ahead of Sébastien Loeb, also struggled on roads that were barely driveable: “Extremely difficult driving. In parts I was crawling along at 20 km/h.”


10:00

Col de Turini – the pass of legends.

The route on the final leg sees the competitors take on the most infamous summit in the entire World Rally Championship three times – the Col de Turini. On 364 days of the year it is a fairly standard high plateau at 1607 metres above sea level. There is not a lot more to see than a hotel and a few houses, which are only occupied in the summer. However, when the Rally Monte Carlo comes to town, the “Turini”, to use its shorter name, is transformed into a rally Mecca. This is where thousands of fans flock to cheer on their heroes. The snowball fights between the French fans on one side and Italians on the other are legendary. And the “Flics”, as the police charged with ensuring the route is safe are known, are right in the middle of all the action


Even before Volkswagen arrived in the World Championship, the crowd was already cosmopolitan. Whilst the number of spectators may have increased somewhat, the atmosphere is still as unique as ever. And it is particularly special when, like in 2013, the drivers head to the summit in the dark. The smoke from campfires wafts across the route. A whole army of mobile fast food stalls supply mulled wine and grilled Merguez – southern France’s most famous sausage. And it is often bitterly cold, with temperatures reaching minus ten degrees and below.


The Col de Turini regularly plays a major role on the final stage of the Rally Monte Carlo. Over the years, the route has tackled the “Turini” from all possible directions. The road from Moulinet to La Bollene has been used in both directions, while the side route via Peira-Cava, which is usually packed with kilometre after kilometre of spectators’ cars, has also featured on the route. In the classic variant used this year, the special stage winds its way from the town of Moulinet and its 200 inhabitants, through countless hairpins and a climb of almost 1,000 metres, up to the pass. On the other side, it heads down a steep 1,000 metre descent to La Bollene Vésubie. On top of all this, the competitors are usually faced with difficult road conditions. For example, a dry run on the way up, icy roads on the way down. Carefree fans, armed with snow shovels, are more than happy to aggravate the issue.


Since the Rally Monte Carlo was founded in 1911, countless dreams of victory have gone up in smoke on the unpredictable “Turini”. At the same time, seemingly beaten drivers have chanced their arm and emerged victorious.
The “Turini” will be tackled three times on Saturday: in the light as SS 14, then in the dark on SS 16 and SS 17.

Friday, 18.01.2013

 


17:20

Flying Fin at the “Monte”.

Here we go! Day three of the Rally Monte Carlo saw Volkswagen and the Polo R WRC successfully overcome difficult conditions and a true classic. The Volkswagen team currently lies second with Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and new fifth overall with Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila. Making its competitive debut at the “Monte”, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC again underlined its speed and reliability, claiming three out of a possible six top-three finishes on day three of the iconic rally.


Jari-Matti Latvala was second in SS 11. A strong performance, and the Fin was and truly pleased: “The change to the set-up of the car paid off for me today. Now I have finally found the trust I need to have in the car and am getting good feedback from my Polo R WRC, which had been missing previously."


Sébastien Ogier: “The conditions on the special stages at the Rally Monte Carlo were once again even more demanding today than on the previous days. Today was the first time I have ever driven the opening stage of the day. On the second stage you constantly had to deal with changing surfaces. And the fast downhill sections on ‘Sisteron’ were also tricky."


Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito: “We have already achieved more at the Rally Monte Carlo than we could ever have dreamed of beforehand. Both driver/co-driver pairings have done a great job so far. Sébastien Ogier backed up the fantastic results of the first two days of the ‘Monte’ with more top times. Jari-Matti Latvala also produced some great work. When evaluating his performance, you cannot forget that he has considerably fewer kilometres in the Polo R WRC under his belt than his team-mate. Jari-Matti has slotted into the team perfectly, is gradually developing the car to his liking, and is following the strategy perfectly."

Overall classification after 13 of 18 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Loeb / D. Elena 4:16:41.9    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:18:29.3 +1:47.4  
3 E. Novikov / I. Minor 4:20:01.8 +3:19.9  
4 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 4:20:03.5 +3:21.6  
5 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:20:46.8 +4:04.9  
6 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 4:21:01.0 +4:19.1  
7 J. Hanninen / T. Tuominen 4:21:57.4 +5:15.5  
8 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson 4:23:00.1 +6:18.2  
9 B. Bouffier / X. Panserie 4:25:02.6 +8:20.7  
10 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 4:35:30.7 +18:48.8  

13:16

The spies who come in from the cold.


Every top driver receives his own information regarding conditions out on the route – because tyre strategy remains the big issue at the Rally Monte Carlo. Spiked tyres are in huge demand out on the special stages, parts of which are completely iced over. They work wonderfully on ice and snow, but have the big disadvantage that they easily lose their spikes on tarmac sections.
As each works driver only has access to 20 spiked tyres, they have, where possible, combined new with old tyres in the hope of saving a few usable spikes for Saturday’s closing leg of the rally.


Each driver has his own system. As such, the strategy and who still has what number of spikes at their disposal remains a well-kept secret, even at the halfway point on day three. “I have 22 now, as I stole a few from the opposition,” joked one driver. But just how do the drivers decide which tyres to use out on the route? “Some special stages were dry during practice, but are now covered in snow,” said Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier, describing the problems they face.


The safety crews – teams more commonly known as “ice spies” – play a major role in this game of tyre poker. They are allowed to drive the route one last time between one and two hours before the start of each special stage. This allows them to check the current conditions out on the route. They usually write their observations in a copy of their charge’s route notes, which they then hand over shortly before the start of a stage.


Experienced drivers are normally recruited for this responsible job. Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier can call on former French champion Nicolas Vouilloz to do his “spying”, while former Ford and Suzuki works driver Toni Gardemeister is out on the course for team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. And Volkswagen development driver Dieter Depping is calling on his experience to assist Volkswagen Junior Sepp Wiegand, who currently leads the WRC2 class in a Fabia Super 2000 forŠkoda Germany.


11:10

Successful start to Friday’s action.


It is bitterly cold in the sea alps – but the top two cars at the Rally Monte Carlo were involved in another hot duel on the eleventh special stage (St. Jean-en-Royans – La Cime Du Mas)! Sébastien Ogier roared over the finish line in his Polo R WRC just 1.5 seconds behind the leader, Sébastien Loeb (Citroën).


“That was a great special stage,” enthused the Volkswagen driver. “I could have driven much faster, but did not want to take too many risks.” In the overall standings, Loeb currently holds a lead of 1:36.3 minutes.


Jari-Matti Latvala crossed the line in fifth place – a result he was happy with: “I have not driven on this route for five years, so the time was better than I expected.”


8:40

“Victory is not our goal.”

After the second day of the Rally Monte Carlo, Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier finds himself in second place. The gap to the leader, Sébastien Loeb (Citroën), has increased slightly to 1:35.0 minutes. “At the first rally with the Polo R WRC, the most important thing for us is to reach the finish,” said  Ogier, giving a clear answer to any questions about when he might launch an attack on Loeb’s lead. “Victory is not our goal. If we do enough to finish runner-up, I will be more than happy.”


Ogier adopted a different tyre strategy to Loeb on Thursday afternoon. “I only used two new spiked tyres and four used ones,” he revealed. Loeb, on the other hand, apparently used four new tyres from his limited stock. Only 20 are available for the entire rally. Should the remaining eight special stages be as snowy as today’s six, it is more than possible that one or two drivers might run out of spiked tyres.

Thursday, 17.01.2013

Overall classification at the end of day two

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Loeb / D. Elena 3:16:29.1    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:18:03.9 +1:34.8  
3 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 3:19:07.1 +2:38.0  
4 E. Novikov / I. Minor 3:19:22.3 +2:53.2  
5 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 3:19:51.8 +3:22.7  
6 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:20:12.3 +3:43.2  
7 J. Hanninen / T. Tuominen 3:20:40.4 +4:11.3  
8 B. Bouffier / X. Panserie 3:22:14.5 +5:45.4  
9 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson 3:22:18.1 +5:49.0  
10 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 3:30:44.7 +14:15.6  

 


13:10

Snow plough or rally car? The duel between the two Sébastiens continues in extreme weather conditions.

Day two of the Rally Monte Carlo began in even worse weather than the opening day on Wednesday. A strong wind meant extremely cold conditions – temperatures plummeted as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, taking the wind chill factor into consideration. With these conditions in mind, all of the top drivers started the morning loop on spiked tyres, as they made their way towards the north-west of Valence.


As on the very first stage of the rally, Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier opened up with a stage win. Starting the day in second place, the Frenchman was able to reduce his gap to overnight leader Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) by 5.4 seconds. In contrast, however, lady luck was not on the side of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. “The front-right tyre is flat,” reported the Finn at the end of the special stage. “Also, somehow I’m struggling on the snow and can’t get the feel for the Polo R WRC.” The result was a loss of about 30 seconds.  


Fresh snow was a hindrance to the early starters on special stage six around St. Bonnet-le-Froid, which is renowned for precisely this peril. Among those affected was Sébastien Ogier, who was second to leave the service park in Valence. “I feel a bit like a snow plough,” was the Frenchman’s summary of the stage, on which he spun his car. The opposition behind him benefitted from a racing line that was relatively snow-free. As such, the stage was won by Evgeny Novikov (Ford), who was the sixth man out onto the stage.


The young Russian also won the next special stage, ahead of Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier. This time Ogier made up 0.9 seconds on Loeb. “The route was completely iced over,” said Ogier. “That was the most difficult stage of this loop.” Nevertheless, he has reduced Loeb’s lead to 1:17.9 minutes going into the afternoon loop. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala has dropped down to sixth place.


 


8:32

Rather one-sided: Unorthodox tyre combinations are the norm at the “Monte”.

Don’t get sucked into trying this outside of the world of rallying: winter tyres on the left side of the car, virtual slicks on the right, and two spiked tyres in the boot. This unorthodox combination of tyres was widespread as the teams set off on their second loop of the opening stage. “We are trying to be prepared for all eventualities,” explained Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier.

The reason for this is that, while the drivers were faced with predominantly icy roads in the morning, the sun had thawed a lot of ice and snow by the afternoon, and even dried the tarmac out completely in some places. As a result, the drivers took two of each available tyre type with them.

In order to fully understand the thinking behind this strategy, we need to take a closer look at the four-wheel drive technology the World Rally Cars are equipped with. Limited-slip differentials are at work on the front and rear axles, whilst the drive is fixed in the centre of the car. This means that good traction on one side of the car is largely transferred to the two wheels on the other side. Very rarely do you ever find wheels spinning on one side of the car.

An extreme example: our sample driver has mounted spiked tyres on the left and slicks on the right. He is driving on an icy road. The left tyres bite into the ice and drive the car forward or generate braking force. The slicks on the right side of the car are, to a large extent, prevented from spinning or locking up by the limited-slip differentials.
On wet and dry roads, the effect is the exact opposite. In this case, the slicks provide the grip while the spiked tyres, which would usually be spinning under these circumstances, are kept in check by the limited-slip differentials.  

Incidentally, this also works if spiked tyres are mounted on the front-right and rear-left, while slicks are mounted on the front-left and rear-right of the car. This combination is known as a “crossover”.
“The handling is obviously not ideal with crossover tyres,” says Volkswagen works driver Jari-Matti Latvala. “Once you are used to it, however, it is quite ok.” 

Wednesday, 16.01.2013

 


18:30

Still hot on his heels.

At the halfway point of the Rally Monte Carlo, the pairing of Ogier and Ingrassia in the #8 Polo R WRC remains hot on the heels of the leader, Sébastien Loeb (Citroën DS3). After ten stages, the gap currently lies at just 1:34.8 minutes, with Daniel Sordo a good minute behind in third place. Ogier and Ingrassia have now won the opening stage on both the first two days of the “Monte”. Having overcome extremely challenging conditions, with snow, ice and strong winds dominating the second leg of the rally, their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) are sixth at the end of day two.

Sébastien Ogier was happy with his results on the second day. “The rally has been perfect for us so far. It will be even more perfect when we reach the finish on Saturday evening. Until then I will be concentrating solely on myself.” We have our fingers crossed for you, Seb, you can do it!

And how does the boss feel? Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito is pleased with the way the WRC debut has panned out so far. “All in all, the performance of the team at the halfway point has been absolutely excellent. What makes it all the nicer is that Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala have repeatedly been able to reward the good preparation and the great work put in by the mechanics at the rally in the form of top times. The guys have earned it.”

17:25

New role for “El Matador”.


Most of the time he gives the impression that he is only here to meet up with a few old pals. But not even the tiniest detail can escape the attention of Carlos Sainz in the waiting zone, in which the participants at the Rally Monte Carlo gather before they make their way to the service area. The two-time world champion (1990 and 1992) is prowling around the rally cars again. And the tyres are coming in for particular attention from the great man. What driver is on which tyres? How are they looking with two or three special stages under their belt? What spares do they have in their boot?


Few people have more experience of the Rally Monte Carlo than Sainz, who is currently working as a consultant for Volkswagen Motorsport. The Spaniard has won the “Grand Dame” of rallying on three occasions. No wonder Volkswagen works drivers Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala value his advice so highly in all matters tyre related. “Carlos has already experienced everything here. He can evaluate every weather situation perfectly,” says Ogier, who is making only his second appearance with a World Rally Car at the “Monte”.


Sainz’s opinion is held in very high esteem when Ogier and Latvala must decide between spiked tyres, winter tyres and virtual slicks. Wouldn’t he rather be out there competing? “I have driven at 15 Rally Monte Carlos. That is plenty,” says the 50-year-old from Madrid. “I have had my time and am now concentrating on my new role.”

 


16:15

Ogier playing it safe.


It’s a slippery issue: During stage 9, the Volkswagen Team was fighting for grip. Sébastien Ogier finished sixth. „Conditions were hard. That’s why I didn’t push too much“, the Frenchman said. He is still in second position in the overall standings.

 


13:07

“That took a load off my mind.”


Volkswagen Motorsport’s first World Rally Car is undoubtedly his baby. Francois-Xavier Demaison, known by everyone as FX, is the engineer responsible for the Polo R WRC. He has spent over a year fine tuning every last detail. Data has been analysed, and then re-analysed. Ideas have been discarded following test drives, and then replaced with new concepts. Up until the first special stage at the Rally Monte Carlo, however, nobody really knew whether or not he had done a good job. At that point, the Polo R WRC was yet to go head to head with its direct rivals.

 

After the successful start of the Rally Monte Carlo 2013, everything became clear: FX Demaison – along with his entire team, of course – has done an excellent job. Works driver Sébastien Ogier secured the maiden stage win for the Polo R WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport and FX. “That moment took a load off my mind,” the Frenchman revealed afterwards. “The tests and simulations only gave us a rough idea how we might compare to the opposition. However, Séb’s stage win proved that we were not far off the mark with our development work.”

 

Not that FX spent the night prior to the start of the Rally Monte Carlo wide awake in his hotel room, chewing his finger nails. “At that point we couldn’t have changed anything else on the car anyway,” he said coolly. “There was absolutely no reason to be overly nervous.”

 


10:35

Great Start into day 2!


Sébastien Ogier is spurring his Polo R WRC! The Frenchman had an impressive start into day two of the Rally Monte Carlo and won the fifth stage. On the 19 kilometer, snow-covered way from Labatie D’Andaure to Lalouvesc, Ogier was first, followed by the 2.9 seconds slower Evgeny Novikov in the Ford Fiesta RS. Sébastien Loeb was third in the Citroën DS3, still with a rally lead of 1:14.9 minutes.


“That’s a great start,” said Ogier. “Very good conditions. Very slippy but fun to drive.”

 


 


Overall classification at the end of day one.

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Loeb / D. Elena 1:39:49.0    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:41:09.3 +1:20.3  
3 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 1:41:35.7 +1:46.7  
4 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 1:41:50.2 +2:01.2  
5 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:41:51.2 +2:32.2  
6 E. Novikov / I. Minor 1:42:39.6 +2:50.6  
7 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson 1:42:44.1 +2:55.1  
8 B. Bouffier / X. Panserie 1:42:46.1 +2:57.1  
9 J. Hanninen / T. Tuominen 1:42:52.5 +3:03.5  
10 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 1:46:00.3 +6:11.3  

19:45

Successful debut.

 

Volkswagen made an impressive start to the Rally Monte Carlo with the Polo R WRC. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia won the opening special stage of the iconic classic in extremely difficult conditions – finishing ahead of multiple world champions Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroen). After the first leg of the four-day “Monte” challenge, Ogier/Ingrassia are currently 1:20.30 minutes behind world champion Loeb in second place, following further excellent stage results. Their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila follow in fifth place overall after their progress was halted by a puncture on the final stage of the day.

 

Sébastien Ogier is happy with the results: “A good start to the ‘Monte’, and one I am more than happy with. However, that was just the first day, which does not mean an awful lot. The rally still has a long way to go, and we still have some tough days ahead of us.“


However, Jari-Matti Latvala wasn’t that lucky today: “We have survived this typical and unpredictable opening day of the ‘Monte’. That is the most important thing. However, today was not really my day. From a driving point of view, I am yet to really find my rhythm. That will come though.”

 


13:45

The clock is ticking – all the time.


Why Jari-Matti Latvala was awarded a 30-second penalty.


Sébastien Ogier had barely finished setting the first fastest time for the Polo R WRC when Volkswagen Motorsport suffered its first setback. Ogier’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was handed a 30-second penalty on his way to the second special stage (SS).


The reason: the Finn arrived at the checkpoint ahead of SS2 three minutes too late. The schedule allowed exactly one hour and 15 minutes to get from SS1 to SS2. Latvala took three minutes longer. In this case, the regulations stipulate a time penalty of ten seconds for each minute the competitor is late. Because the suspension was too hard, Latvala tried to unmount the stabilizer of the front axle. But that didn't work, and the team lost too much time while changing tyres.


“The time allowed for the route between the two special stages was very tight,” explained Latvala. “We probably took our time a bit too much when changing the tyres ahead of the start of SS2.”

 


13:12

 


10:04

Top time on his debut! Sébastien Ogier wins

opening stage of the Rally Monte Carlo.

The best possible start: Sébastien Ogier opened his account at the Rally Monte Carlo with the fastest time on stage one – on the very first special stage (SS) ever contested in the brand-new Polo R WRC. Even world champion and last year’s winner Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) could not match Ogier’s pace, although he arrived at the finish just 3.7 seconds behind the Volkswagen driver.


Although only half of the 37-kilometre “Le Moulinon – Antraigues” special stage was covered in snow and ice, all the top drivers started on spiked tyres. “The trick is not to ruin the spikes on the tarmac sections,” said Ogier, revealing the secret to his success.
Nobody at Volkswagen Motorsport was getting carried away by Ogier’s best time. After all, there are still another 17 difficult special stages to go before Saturday evening. A top time at the start is by no means a guarantee of a top result come the end of the rally.


9:00

Tyre poker: The teams all keep their cards

well hidden when it comes to tyre selection.


Only a few team members are privy to this confidential information, as the risk of a leak would otherwise be too great. The job of predicting the weather is one of the most important roles at Volkswagen Motorsport during the Rally Monte Carlo. Victory could quite possibly depend on this data. As such, all forecasts are classed as “Top Secret”.


Since it snowed heavily in the area around Valence, works drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier have been in contact with the weathergirl virtually every minute. The Finn and the Frenchman are primarily interested in one thing: will it continue snowing through to Saturday? Or might the sun actually make an appearance from Thursday?


Each driver can use a maximum 40 tyres. For example, anyone who has used all their spiked tyres by Friday will have to race without spikes on Saturday – even if the special stages are completely iced over. Whoever plays their cards right will come out on top in the end.


This also explains why Sébastien Ogier braved yesterday’s blizzard on winter tyres without spikes for one of his four runs during the Shakedown, whilst most of his rivals turned to spikes. The free practice must also be run on tyres from the limited stock of 40.
Where possible, teams try to avoid allowing the opposition to discover which tyres they are using. One legendary case saw a team paint white spikes onto normal winter tyres. The opposition’s spies were taken in by this manoeuvre, and the team’s own drivers then changed their choice of tyre at the last moment before heading out of the service park. They were then well and truly outclassed over the next few special stages.

Tuesday, 15.01.2013

 


14:12


13:44

Two teams – one era.

When the Rally Monte Carlo gets underway in just a matter of hours, it will herald a new era for Volkswagen Motorsport. It is a debut in several regards: the Polo R WRC will be making its first start in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). And the team will also be working with a new driver/co-driver pairing throughout the rally – Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala and his compatriot and co-driver Miikka Anttila officially joined the Volkswagen outfit on 1st January 2013 and will line up at the “Monte” in the number 7 Polo R WRC. Frenchmen Sébastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia will face the icy challenges of the “mother of all rallies” in the number 8 Polo R WRC. Ogier, who was born in Gap, not only knows the region like the back of his hand, but also the Polo: like Ingrassia, he has been under contract as a Volkswagen works driver since the end of 2011; both have contributed significantly to the development of the Polo R WRC. The waiting is finally over – good luck guys! 

 

Polo R WRC #7:

Portrait of Jari-Matti Latvala und Miikka Anttila.

 

Polo R WRC #8:

Portrait of Sébastien Ogier und Julien Ingrassia.

 


Previews

Monday, 14.01.2013

 


15:15

Snow arrives in the Alps,
just in time for the start of the Rally Monte Carlo.

The clue should really have been in the town name St. Bonnet le Froid: “Cold Saint Bonnet” is the start point for special stages six and nine of the Rally Monte Carlo. And, bang on time for the first event of the 2013 season, it has started to snow in the town located a good 1,100 metres above sea level in the Haute-Loire region. “As it stands, there are already a few centimetres of snow,” reported Volkswagen works driver Jari-Matti Latvala after today’s practice.

It is the same picture as St. Bonnet le Froid in many other places in the Alps, where it is snowing quite heavily. As such, the Rally Monte Carlo looks set to take place in precisely the kind of conditions that make the “Monte” the most difficult event of the year. Depending on their location, the mountain roads between Valence and Monaco can be either bone dry, wet as a result of melt water, covered with either a sprinkling or a blanket of snow, or even iced over. Sometimes the conditions can change dramatically within a stage.

As a result, the teams are left with a tricky question: which tyres to start on? Gone are the days when the drivers could call on a never-ending supply of tyres before each special stage. At the Rally Monte Carlo, tyre changes are only allowed every two or three stages. The teams can choose between hard and soft compound dry tyres, which are practically slicks, and winter tyres, with or without spikes. As if the decision were not tricky enough, each team has a limited number of tyres for the entire rally: for works drivers like Volkswagen Motorsport’s Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier, this figure is exactly 40.

Friday, 11.01.2013

 


17:21

Statements from the Volkswagen team.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Polo R WRC #7:
„It is great fun driving the Polo R WRC. It is very stable and the driveability of the engine is also very good. I would like to get the season off to a good start at the ‘Monte’. The result is not the top priority yet, although I would obviously love to pick up some World Championship points.”

Sébastien Ogier, Polo R WRC #8:
„The ‘Monte’ is a very special rally. After all, it is my home rally. However, the season opener near my home will be an extraordinary experience for the entire team, as it is the
first rally with the new Polo R WRC. We have been working towards this moment with Volkswagen for over a year. We can hardly wait to finally get started.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director:
„I cannot wait to finally getting going. The entire team at Volkswagen is looking forward to the WRC debut of the Polo WRC. World Championship rallies in the top WRC class are new territory for the team. Furthermore, the Polo R WRC has been developed from scratch, features a lot of innovative ideas, and will be making its competitive debut. The ‘Monte’ will give us our first indication of how we compare with the opposition."


12:50

Let’s finally get things started.

The countdown to the Rally Monte Carlo is on.

The tension is rising. You can feel it everywhere. Among the drivers, the teams, the organisers and the fans. Even the World Rally Cars look as if they are raring to burn some rubber. Calm down! There are just a few days to go before the starting signal is given for the 2013 world championship season. The day is almost upon us.

On Wednesday, 16 January, the Rally Monte Carlo starts. However, not in the chic principality on the Côte d’Azur, but about 350 kilometres further north in the Rhône valley – as in previous years, the starting ramp for the season’s opening event is in Valence. Only after two stages in the mountains around the small industrial town will the rally route wind through the Alps on Friday towards Monaco. In the course of a short but intense run through the Maritime Alps, the drivers negotiate the famous Col de Turini three times on Saturday evening, before reaching the finishing line in the port of Monaco.

For the Volkswagen works drivers and their rivals, however, it starts to get serious a few days before that. From Saturday, 12 January, they train up to and including Monday. The most pressing questions that need to be answered are: Where has the snow fallen? And where is the route icy? This so-called ‘recce’ (short for ‘reconnaissance’) is strictly monitored by the organisers. Each special stage may be driven no more than twice in order to compile the pace notes (also known as the ‘prayer book’). GPS systems installed in the training car record every violation of the applicable speed limits – and then there is trouble with the sports inspectors.

On Tuesday there are still a few duties to perform in Valence: the drivers and co-drivers must have their driving licences inspected and hold various press conferences, and the mechanics have to present the brand-new Polo R WRC cars belonging to Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (start number 7) and Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (8) to the technical inspectors.

On Wednesday it’s finally down to business and adrenaline levels are at their peak. At 09:03 in the morning the reigning world champion Sébastien Loeb will be the first to cross the starting ramp. A few minutes later, the moment will have finally arrived: Volkswagen Motorsport will herald the start of a new era – a return to the World Rally Championship. Let us finally begin.