Rally Germany

21 – 25 August 2013.


Red-hot coverage, exclusive background reports, interviews, live timings, the latest photos of the routes, every result – simply everything on the 2013 Rally Germany. You are always up to date here.

Rally Germany 2013

 

Ogier and Latvala score points in Rally Germany.

 



It was a weekend of highs and lows for Volkswagen Motorsport: for the first time in the 2013 WRC season, the team failed to make it onto the podium. Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila put in the best performance for the Wolfsburg-based team, finishing in seventh place in Volkswagen’s home event held in the vineyards around Trier. Their teammates and the current leaders in the World Rally Championship, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, finished the ninth event of the season in 16th place. Both duos had briefly led in the rally in their Polo R WRC vehicles. Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula were forced to pull out of Rally Germany after co-driver Markkula injured his thoracic vertebra. The winner of Rally Germany was Dani Sordo. Citroën therefore remains unbeaten on asphalt for almost ten years.




Rally Germany got off to a great start for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, with two stage victories on Thursday putting them in the lead ahead of the second day of the event. However, the French pair veered off the course on an especially slippery section on Friday and damaged their front wheel suspension, forcing them to retire from the proceedings early. They then returned on Saturday thanks to the Rally 2 rule and achieved three out of the five best special stage times. And in the Power Stage on Sunday, they opted for maximum damage limitation, achieving the fastest time and therefore picking up three of the valuable additional points awarded to the drivers in first, second and third place.


“This obviously wasn’t how we had hoped the weekend would shape up, but we made the most of the situation. Winning the Power Stage at the end was another great success and may still prove to have been decisive in terms of our clinching the world championship title,” said Sébastien Ogier, summarising the days’ events.


For Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila, their best performance so far on asphalt went unrewarded. The Finnish duo were in the lead at the start of the second day and continued to extend their lead up to the eleventh special stage, “Arena Panzerplatte”, when their Polo R WRC hit one of the notorious “Hinkelstein” concrete blocks on the co-driver’s side. The pair consequently had to cope with a door that kept opening of its own accord. Then during the twelfth special stage, they slid off the track and were out of the running. Like their teammates the day before, Latvala/Anttila got back on the road the next day thanks to the Rally 2 rule and succeeded in picking up some valuable points both for them and for Volkswagen in the Drivers’, Co-drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships. They finished third in the Power Stage, which earned them another point.


Jari-Matti Latvala had mixed feelings at the end of the rally weekend: “My performance on asphalt has improved. I’ve never been in the lead during an asphalt rally before and my times also show that I have improved on this surface. There’s definitely still room for improvement, but after the disappointment of having to stop yesterday, I’m happy to have been able to score a few more points for the team in the Manufacturers’ Championship – even if the way the event finished was anything.


Rally Germany 2013: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 3:15:19.4    
2 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:16:12.4 +53.0  
3 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 3:17:55.5 +2:36.1  
4 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 3:23:20.2 +8:00.8  
5 R. Kubica / M. Baran (WRC2) 3:24:20.7 +9:01.3  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt (WRC2) 3:24:33.6 +9:14.2  
7 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:25:14.4 +9:55.0  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard (WRC2) 3:28:20.6 +13:01.2  
9 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:28:47.5 +13:28.1  
10 E. Novikov / I. Minor 3:30:37.3 +15:17.9  
...        
17 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:42:07.7 +26:48.3  

Impressions

The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2013 Rally Germany a second time around: every single day and every single special stage.

 

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

Sunday, 25.08.2013


Latest pictures (14)
16:23 (CEST)


Classification after 16 of 16 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 3:15:19.4    
2 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:16:12.4 +53.0  
3 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 3:17:55.5 +2:36.1  
4 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 3:23:20.2 +8:00.8  
5 R. Kubica / M. Baran (WRC2) 3:24:20.7 +9:01.3  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt (WRC2) 3:24:33.6 +9:14.2  
7 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:25:14.4 +9:55.0  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard (WRC2) 3:28:20.6 +13:01.2  
9 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:28:47.5 +13:28.1  
10 E. Novikov / I. Minor 3:30:37.3 +15:17.9  
...        
17 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:42:07.7 +26:48.3  

14:20 (CEST)

The win in the Power Stage may prove to be important.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7

“Let’s start with the positive: I have improved on my performances on asphalt from the past. Of course, there is still room for improvement, but I’m happy that I was able to pick up some more points for the team in the Constructors’ championship after yesterday’s disappointment, even though the result was anything but perfect for me personally. Nevertheless, I’ll be going into the upcoming rallies with confidence and will do everything I can to give my team the best chance in the fight for the Constructors’ Championship. I’m happy for Dani Sordo, who is celebrating his first ever World Championship rally win here in Germany. I know how Dani must be feeling right now. He deserved the victory.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“Of course, that is not how we hoped the weekend would pan out, but we were still able to make the best of it. The win in the Power Stage at the end was a nice success and may still prove to be important in the shake-up for the World Championship. I’m sorry for the team that we were not able to win our home rally. I’m really happy for Dani Sordo, because he has had a tough season so far and a first World Championship win is always something special. I’m now looking forward to Australia and Julien and I will be trying to edge ever closer to that World Championship title..”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“To win eight of the fifteen stages is a good sign and matches the amount we have been achieving prior to the Rally Germany. The Polo R WRC is also competitive on asphalt. However, our home race did not go as we had imagined or hoped it would. And that’s disappointing for us. Both Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala led the rally at some stage, but both were forced to retire in this position. We were close to victory, but missed out due to a few little mistakes. We send our congratulations to Dani Sordo for his deserved maiden victory in the WRC, which was long overdue.”


12:25 (CEST)

Three World Championship points: Ogier wins Power Stage. First WRC victory for Dani Sordo.


It was a positive end to a weekend of mixed fortunes for Volkswagen Motorsport. Driving the Polo R WRC #8, World Championship leader Sébastien Ogier secured his sixth stage success on the Rally Germany’s final stage (Dhrontal 2). By winning the 24.58-kilometre Power Stage, the Frenchman picked up three extra points that could be all important in the shake-up for the World Championship. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (#7) was rewarded with one point for his third-place finish; the Finn also collected six points for finishing seventh overall.


Second place went to this year’s winner at the Rally Germany: Citroën’s Dani Sordo. The Spaniard, who can now celebrate his first triumph in the WRC, came out on top in a breathtaking duel with Ford’s Belgian driver Thierry Neuville. Third-placed Mikko Hirvonen in the Citroën finished over two and a half minutes behind the winner.


09:55 (CEST)

Risk-free runs for Ogier and Latvala

as an exciting duel for top spot unfolds.


Final push at the Rally Germany. It was all about avoiding risks and keeping a close eye on the track’s finer details for Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) and Jari-Matti Latvala (#7) on the fifteenth and penultimate stage of the rally (Dhrontal 1). With the 24.58-kilometre stretch being run for a second time as a Power Stage to conclude proceedings, this was a logical approach to take: the Power Stage gives Volkswagen’s drivers the opportunity to win up to three additional World Championship points. Ogier was third-fastest on SS 15, followed by Latvala in fourth.


Meanwhile, the fight for top spot at the Rally Germany is going down to the wire. Citroën’s Dani Sordo started the day a mere 0.8 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville in the Ford. The Spaniard won stage 15 with a time of 15:49.1 minutes, edging the Belgian by 2.2 seconds. The difference between the two drivers in the overall standings now stands at 3.0 seconds. Third-placed Mikko Hirvonen in the Citroën is over two minutes off the pace set by the top two.


00:10 (CEST)

Always up-to-date with the

“Wolfsburger Morgenpost” for all rally fans.

The “Wolfsburger Morgenpost” – a fan newspaper distributed free of charge in the Service Park at Messepark Trier and on the special stages – will be published on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Furthermore, the “WoMoPo” is available for download as a PDF* here.

 

*the "Wolfsburger Morgenpost" issues are only available in German

Saturday, 24.08.2013


Latest pictures (17)
18:12 (CEST)


Classification after 14 of 16 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 2:43:48.5    
2 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:43:49.3 +0.8  
3 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:45:16.1 +1:27.6  
4 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 2:49:54.8 +6:06.3  
5 R. Kubica / M. Baran (WRC2) 2:51:21.6 +7:33.1  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt (WRC2) 2:51:29.4 +7:40.9  
7 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:53:15.5 +9:27.0  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard (WRC2) 2:54:25.8 +10:37.3  
9 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 2:56:16.3 +12:27.8  
10 E. Novikov / I. Minor 2:58:00.3 +14:11.8  

20:26 (CEST)

“You need a bit of luck to come out victorious in the end.” Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7

“Up until going off the track on the twelfth stage, this was our best asphalt rally so far this season – it was the first time that we were leading and victory was within touching distance. Unfortunately, there was a little incident in the morning, which caused some damage to the passenger door. On the way to the next stage following the service, we discovered that Miikka’s door kept on opening. He had to hold it shut with one hand whilst thumbing through the notes with the other. At a particularly slippery section, the information was communicated a little too late and we hit a stone on the side of the track. This damaged the right rear suspension. We tried to keep going, but the suspension gave up shortly before the end and we slid off from the track. Tomorrow, we will be trying to pick up some points in the Manufacturer’s category.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“It was quite hard to find the motivation earlier today. But the best way to combat that is to record the fastest stage times. And I was able to do that in three of the five stages that took place today. As such, it was a pretty good day for us – the exact opposite of yesterday. We also tired out a different set-up with which I was very pleased. With Jari-Matti also being forced to retire, there probably won’t be a Polo on the podium; it’s a real shame, but it happens from time to time. Losing is a part of sport.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“After some excellent results recently and a good start to this rally, we’re going to have to take today on the chin. Although the Polo R WRC and our drivers have shown that Volkswagen are also more than competitive on asphalt, we are now out of the running for a rally victory. Both Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala have led this rally. However, you need a bit of luck to come out victorious in the end. And that’s what we’ve been lacking over the last two days.”


19:56 (CEST)

Serious accident during a private demonstration programme.

 

The action from the Rally Germany was overshadowed by a serious accident involving a historic car participating in a private demonstration programme. Unfortunately, the injuries sustained by both the driver and the passenger proved fatal. The second loop of the ‘Arena Panzerplatte’ stage was cancelled.

 

The Rally Germany will resume on Sunday.


16:50 (CEST)

SS 14 Arena Panzerplatte 2 cancelled.

 

Due to a serious accident, the Rally Germany's last stage on Saturday (Arena Panzerplatte 2) has been cancelled. Further information will follow shortly.


15:55 (CEST)

Ogier’s charge continues.

Exciting scrap for top spot.


After having to sit out for much of Friday's race action, Volkswagen's Sébastien Ogier has produced some typically excellent performances in his Polo R WRC #8 on Saturday. The World Championship leader missed out on a fourth victory of the day by a mere 0.6 seconds on the 9.23-kilometre SS 13 (Peterberg 2). Citroën's Dani Sordo beat the Frenchman by the narrowest of margins, whilst Ford's Thierry Neuville came fourth.

 

Meanwhile, Neuville and Sordo are locked in a tremendous duel for glory at the Rally Germany. The Spaniard is currently in the driving seat for top spot, after the Belgian had initially taken the lead following Jari-Matti Latvala’s (Polo R WRC #7) retirement in stage 12. With an overall time of 2:43:48.5, Sordo is currently leading Neuville by 0.8 seconds.


15:10 (CEST)

Chaotic start to the afternoon:

Latvala forced to retire, Ogier wins.

 

After the midday break, the Rally Germany resumed with stage 12 (Stein & Wein 2). Driving the Polo R WRC #8, the World Championship leader Sébastien Ogier impressed once again on the 26.54-kilometre stage. Whilst the Frenchman cruised to victory ahead of Citroën’s Dani Sordo and Ford’s Thierry Neuville with a time of 15:51.8 minutes, things did not go so well for Jari-Matti Latvala in the Polo R WRC #7 and many other drivers.


The Finn, who was leading the Rally Germany at the time, had problems with the passenger door right at the start and was forced to retire later on in the stage. In accordance with Rally2 regulations, he will be able to resume on Sunday for the final two stages. Mads Østberg also failed to bring his Ford home. The new overall leader Neuville also had problems, but managed to make it to the finish.


14:15 (CEST)

“I’ve got nothing to lose.” Ogier wants to continue

clocking fastest times in the afternoon loop.


After dropping out on Friday and resuming this morning, individual results are now providing Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) with the motivation to do well. “I want to win as many stages as possible,” said the Frenchman with intent. The World Championship leader won two of Saturday morning’s three stages. “Today, I’ve started every stage from tenth, so the track has been in a pretty bad way,” said Ogier. Despite this, he only lost out on a stage win once when Citroën’s Dani Sordo of Spain came out on top.


As over 100 cars will have taken to the stages by the afternoon, the conditions will be more or less the same for all of the top drivers. “I’ll be going all out since I have nothing to lose,” said Ogier. At the same time, his task will be to test the car for the next asphalt rally in the WRC’s calendar. “It could rain in France, too. Therefore, it’s a good opportunity to try out different chassis set-ups.”


14:00 (CEST)

“That was lucky!”

Latvala’s close encounter with a concrete block.

 

Phew, that was close! One of the notorious ‘Hinkelsteine’ on the military training ground almost dashed Jari-Matti Latvala’s hopes of victory. “I lost the rear end going into a left-hand corner,” said the Finn. The ‘gravel crew’ had given Latvala plenty of warning about the poor condition on this part of the track. “But the wheels were probably too hot, so I didn’t have as much grip as I expected to have.”

 

The Finn clipped his Polo R WRC’s passenger door on one of these concrete blocks, which act as the track’s barrier. “We were very lucky. I only had to drop down two gears and was able to keep going.”

 

During the midday service, Volkswagen Motorsport’s mechanics will do whatever they can to repair the damage. “The axles and the chassis didn’t sustain any damage – my car is driving just as normal,” said Latvala.

 

For the afternoon loop, which consists of the same three stages from the morning, the Finn also wants work to be done on the suspension and the anti-roll bars. “I need a softer chassis set-up on what is likely to be a wet and dirty track.”


11:25 (CEST)

Fastest time on the ‘Panzerplatte’:
Sébastien Ogier puts Polo through its paces.


“With a bit more grip, I would have been able to record an even better time,” said Sébastien Ogier dryly, after coming home fastest with a superb time of 23:33.8 minutes on the spectacular stage 11 (Arena Panzerplatte 1). Citroën’s Dani Sordo was a further 6.2 seconds back on the longest stage of the Rally Germany. With a time of 23:41.8 minutes, Ogier’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala finished third, 4.2 seconds quicker than his fiercest rival for top spot Thierry Neuville (Ford) in fourth. Latvala in the Polo R WRC made contact with one of the large stones on the side of track shortly before crossing the line. With no serious damage done, though, the Finn can count himself very lucky.

In the overall standings, Latvala has now extended his lead over Neuville to 14.8 seconds. Third-placed Sordo made up a small amount of ground and is now 23.8 seconds behind Latvala.


10:44 (CEST)

Rally cars replace tanks.

The 41.08-kilometre ‘Arena Panzerplatte’ is the showcase stage of the Rally Germany. Yet its length is not the only reason why it commands such a great deal of respect from the drivers. “The ‘Panzerplatte’ is a little like Finland, except the surface is concrete instead of gravel,” said Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7). Here, the Finn is alluding to the high speeds the drivers reach and a racing track, which is similar to the rollercoaster-esque runs often found in his homeland.

Criss-crossing the Baumholder military training ground in all directions, the wide track also shares a lot of similarities with the Rally Finland. Instead of birch trees, though, the track is lined with large fixed rocks. Concrete slabs set deep into the ground represent the track’s barriers; their actual use is keeping military vehicles safely on the right track, since the training ground was mainly used by American tank units for decades. These days, the German and US armies share the 11,600-hectare site on which training for air-to-ground attacks is primarily carried out.

With a surface consisting mostly of concrete, the ‘Arena Panzerplatte’ is unique to the World Rally Championship. In line with regulations, special tyres have even been developed for this stage alone. “The track is very raw with a lot of sharp kerbs which means that there is high chance of tyre damage,” commented Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8). The conditions become particularly tricky when it rains. Since there are no drainage systems that can otherwise found on normal roads, the risk of aquaplaning is high. Though rather dusty in dry conditions, the track can become very slippery in many places when it is wet. “In this instance, the Baumholder becomes a bit of a lottery,” said Ogier.


09:44 (CEST)

Latvala extends lead at the top.

Although stage 10 (Peterberg 1) was only a short 9.23-kilometre sprint, it was enough for Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala to extend his lead over Thierry Neuville in the Ford. The Finn was second fastest with a time of 5:09.1 minutes, only 0.2 seconds slower than Citroën’s Dani Sordo. Team-mate Sébastien Ogier took third with a time of 5:10.8 minutes.
 
After losing 3.4 seconds on this short stage, Neuville now finds himself 10.6 seconds behind Latvala in the overall standings. Sordo is a further 15 seconds back in third place.


08:40 (CEST)

Sébastien Ogier hits back with fastest time.

What a comeback! After being forced to park up yesterday, Sébastien Ogier returned in impressive fashion to win Saturday’s first stage (Stein & Wein 1). Allowed to resume under Rally2 regulations, the Frenchman recorded the fastest time (14:54.9 minutes), ahead of Citroën’s Dani Sordo (+3.5 seconds) and Jari-Matti Latvala (+4.0 seconds). The Finn remains top of the overall standings with a 7.4-second lead over Ford’s Thierry Neuville.


00:03 (CEST)

Always up-to-date with the

“Wolfsburger Morgenpost” for all rally fans.

The “Wolfsburger Morgenpost” – an eight-page fan newspaper distributed free of charge in the Service Park at Messepark Trier and on the special stages – will be published on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Furthermore, the “WoMoPo” is available for download as a PDF* here.

 

*the "Wolfsburger Morgenpost" issues are only available in German

 

 

Friday, 23.08.2013


Latest pictures (26)
23:55 (CEST)


Classification after eight of 16 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:38:04.1    
2 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1:38:11.4 +7.3  
3 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 1:38:30.4 +26.3  
4 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 1:38:51.7 +47.6  
5 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 1:40:16.4 +2:12.3  
6 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 1:42:21.7 +4:17.6  
7 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini 1:42:56.2 +4:52.1  
8 R. Kubica / M. Baran (WRC2) 1:43:03.6 +4:59.5  
9 E. Evans / D. Barritt (WRC2) 1:43:16.0 +5:11.9  
10 S. Wiegand / F. Christian (WRC2) 1:44:57.8 +6:53.7  

20:30 (CEST)

“My Polo feels fantastic.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7

“Friday was very intense and exciting. The duel with Thierry Neuville remains an extremely close affair. I particularly enjoyed the last two stages of the afternoon – my Polo feels fantastic. It doesn’t really get any better than this. It is obviously a great feeling to lead the Rally Germany after day two. At the same time, I feel sorry for Seb and Julien. Their set-back shows how fine the margins are between success and disappointment here. We haven’t won anything yet either, and will have to try to do a perfect job right until the end. The stages will be very difficult to drive, particularly if it rains tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
After getting off to such a good start yesterday, the retirement early on day two is obviously disappointing. Unfortunately I hit a damp spot on the tarmac as I braked, meaning I was too quick coming into the corner and ploughed into the bank at quite a speed. This damaged the suspension at the front left so severely that Julien and I lost more than two minutes. We tried to complete the next special stage, but had to give up for safety reasons. The car was undriveable. I feel bad for the team, as I would really have liked to give Volkswagen a win at their home event. Winning Sunday’s Power Stage is now the priority, as I really want to pick up the three World Championship points. It is also important for us to take leave here with some important reference values on asphalt, which we can use at the Rally France in six weeks.

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
Friday was a day of different emotions for Volkswagen. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia suffered the disappointment of skidding off the track whilst leading today. However, we were able to depend upon Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. The took over the lead and then defended it in a thrilling duel with Thierry Neuville. All in all, we are happy with the result, although we would obviously have hoped for more from Sébastien Ogier. He will resume under Rally2 regulations tomorrow, and will be out to score as many points as possible towards the Manufacturers’ Championship.


20:00 (CEST)

“That would not have been possible before.”

Latvala shows new-found love of asphalt.

 

Unusual role for Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7). “In the past, I was always happy at asphalt rallies if I could drive behind somebody, in order to help me find the braking points and racing line.” That was in the past. As of today, Latvala is now the man being hunted down by the rest of the field. The Finn goes into Saturday’s third leg of the Rally Germany as the overall leader, meaning he is first out onto the route.

 

“That would not have been possible before,” said Latvala, seemingly a little surprised by his own performance. “All the hard work I put in on improving my driving style on asphalt over the last four or five years is paying off now.” That work also included lining up at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, by the way.

 

This morning it looked as though Thierry Neuville would slowly but surely reel Latvala in. The Belgian Ford driver won four special stages in a row. “My car had too much understeer for my liking, so I was lacking a bit of confidence,” revealed Latvala. The chassis was adjusted during the midday service to make it softer. “It was much better afterwards.”

 

Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila promptly won Friday’s final two special stages to re-establish a slender lead over their pursuers. In doing so, they left part of the rear spoiler out on the route. “Part of the rear end broke off at one point. Luckily there were only a few bushes in the way.”


18:20 (CEST)

Finnish one-two on Friday evening: Latvala keeps

the opposition in check at the halfway point.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) showed his class on Friday evening and put the opposition in their place. The Finn followed his first stage win on SS 7 of the Rally Germany with a second victory to complete a successful Friday. The Volkswagen driver won the 19.94-kilometre Grafschaft 2 (SS 8) in a time of 11:33.1 minutes, ahead of Thierry Neuville (Ford) and Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën).

 

At the halfway point in the Rally Germany, Latvala leads with an overall time of 1:38:04.1 hours, ahead of Belgium’s Neuville (+7.3 seconds) and Spaniard Dani Sordo in his Citroën (+26.3 seconds). The action resumes at 08:03 on Saturday morning with the 26.54-kilometre SS 9 (Stein & Wein 1).


17:25 (CEST)

Latvala counters in style:

clear win on SS 7.

 

The chasing pack were hot on Jari-Matti Latvala’s heels, but the Volkswagen driver made a definite statement on the seventh special stage of the Rally Germany: the Finn won the 22.79-kilometre SS 7 (Moselland 2) in an impressive 13:57.9 minutes, finishing ahead of rivals Thierry Neuville (Ford) and Dani Sordo (Citroën) who had been hunting him down since the start of the second leg. In claiming his first stage win at the Rally Germany, Latvala was the only driver to break the 14-minute mark.

 

Victory also sees the Volkswagen driver extend his lead in the overall standings. With a total time of 1:26:31.0 hours, Latvala now leads Belgian Neuville by 4.6 seconds and Spain’s Sordo by 19.4 seconds.


16:40 (CEST)

Latvala hangs on to lead.

 

It remains incredibly tight at the Rally Germany. The sixth special stage (Mittelmosel 2) once again developed into a head-to-head race between the three fastest drivers in the overall standings. At the end of the 22.95-kilometre route, Jari-Matti Latvala in the #7 Polo R WRC was second fastest with a time of 13:20.5 minutes – just 0.4 seconds behind Thierry Neuville (Ford). Dani Sordo (Citroën) took just one tenth of a second more than Latvala to finish third.

 

In the overall standings, the Finnish Volkswagen driver remains the man to catch with a leading time of 1:12:33.1 hours, followed by Belgium’s Neuville (+2.0 seconds) and Sordo (+15.2 seconds) of Spain.


16:00 (CEST)

“I feel very bad for the team.”

Mistake frustrates Sébastien Ogier.

 

It was his first driving error with consequences since the Rally Monte Carlo in January 2012. This makes it all the more frustrating for Sébastien Ogier that his mistake came at the home event of Volkswagen Motorsport. “The road was damper than we expected at quite a quick spot. We only realised very late. As such, there was not enough braking distance before we reached a right-hander,” said the Frenchman, recalling the events of Friday’s opening stage.

 

The front left of the number 8 Polo R WRC Der Polo R WRC collided with a bank, damaging the suspension in the process. “We were able to continue, but had to slow right down,” explained Ogier. The time lost amounted to about two and a half minutes.

 

After completing the special stage, the World Championship leader and co-driver Julien Ingrassia strived to repair the damaged triangular control arm with the tools on board. “Our aim was to make it to the service, whatever happened.” The two Frenchmen did actually manage to start the next special stage. “The handling then became increasingly unpredictable,” said Ogier. To avoid any risks, he eventually parked the car up at the side of the road. “I feel very bad for the team. I would have liked to have given them a win at their home rally.”

 

Ogier/Ingrassia will re-join the action on Saturday, but without any prospect of a top result. The new plan: “We will try a few things out with the chassis, with the next asphalt rally in mind.”


14:45 (CEST)

“Problem-free morning.”

Jari-Matti Latvala overcomes difficult conditions.

 

The man radiates self-confidence. A laid-back Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) chewed casually on a sandwich as he waited for the midday service to open. “The morning passed without any problems,” reported the Finn, who goes into the afternoon loop with a 2.4-second lead.


The only thing Latvala was not 100% happy with was his tyre selection. “At the end I was on a combination of soft and hard tyres. That did not work ideally.” As is customary with the current generation of World Rally Cars, Latvala was driving with a so-called crossover mixture – one hard and one soft tyre on each axle. “However, it only rained very lightly and was a bit too dry for the soft tyres. They degraded badly after about 15 kilometres,” said Latvala.


Latvala was reluctant to reveal whether or not he will select differently in the afternoon. “Round and black,” was the limit of his insider information. All the teams are keeping their weather forecasts for this afternoon a big secret. One thing is clear, though: Thursday’s summery temperatures are definitely a thing of the past.


13:10 (CEST)

Latvala leads going into the lunch break.

What an exciting morning! The top of the overall standings remains a very close affair, but Jari-Matti Latvala was able to maintain a slender lead of 2.4 seconds after the fifth special stage of the Rally Germany (Grafschaft 1), as the drivers now head into the midday break.

“There are a few slippery sections of road, but generally speaking the stage was okay,” said the Volkswagen driver at the halfway point on Friday. Latvala was second fastest on SS 5, behind Thierry Neuville, who once again put his foot down in the Ford Fiesta to claim another stage win. Dani Sordo (Citroën) also clocked a fast time to finish third, 2.9 seconds behind Neuville.


12:36 (CEST)

Spies at work: “gravel crews”

hunting down dirty sections of road.

Drivers have an easy time of it on racetracks. As soon as anyone ploughs through a gravel bed and scatters stones onto the track, the marshals come tearing over with large brushes and sweep any alien objects to the side. Rally drivers can only dream of such a luxury. On an asphalt rally, the corners are cut where possible, with the ideal line sometimes taking the cars right over the kerbs.


Cutting corners this way does increase cornering speeds, but can also result in a lot of stones, clumps of grass and dirt being propelled onto the road, depending on the consistency of the roadside. This is particularly true when, as on Friday morning, it has rained in the area around Trier. When that happens, the same roads that were nice and clean in practice are suddenly transformed into muddy tracks. And there are no marshals to arrest the situation.

In order to inform at least the works drivers of such serious changes before they set off, so-called “gravel crews” are employed at asphalt rallies. These gravel spies are permitted to drive all the special stages once, shortly before the start. They are then able to inform “their” drivers about the current condition of the route.


This road inspection is particularly important prior to the second loop, which usually takes place in the afternoon. By then, about 80 cars will have tackled the route at the Rally Germany, resulting in a corresponding amount of dirt on the roads.

Experienced rally drivers are assigned the responsible job of “gravel crews”. At Volkswagen Motorsport, former French and European champion Simon Jean-Joseph (44) will be spying for championship leader Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) at the Rally Germany. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) will put his faith in compatriot Toni Gardemeister (38), who is also a former works driver.


12:22 (CEST)

Thrilling battle at the top –
Latvala defends overall lead.

Thriller in the vineyards around Trier: Jari-Matti Latvala continues to lead the Rally Germany, but is coming under some serious pressure from rivals Thierry Neuville (Ford) and Dani Sordo (Citroën). Neuville clocked the fastest time on the fourth special stage (Moselland 1), with Sordo just 0.2 seconds behind. Latvala came home in third place in his #7 Polo R WRC, a further 1.2 seconds back. The Finn is now 4.4 seconds ahead of Neuville in the overall standings, and 14.2 seconds ahead of Sordo.

Things are not going at all to plan for Latvala’s team-mate Sébastien Ogier after leaving the road on Friday’s opening stage: the Frenchman was forced to pull to side of the road in his damaged #8 Polo R WRC. The car will have to wait until Saturday to rejoin the race under Rally2 conditions.


11:15 (CEST)

Latvala new leader - Disappointment for Sébastien Ogier.

Sébastien Ogier would definitely not have imagined Friday starting quite like this. Having dominated yesterday´s opening two special stages, the Frenchman suffered a set-back on Friday´s first stage (Mittelmosel 1). Ogier missed a braking point, resulting in the Polo R WRC continuing straight on into a copse. The Volkswagen lost over two minutes returning his car to the road and is now well back in twelfth place.

Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala produced an impressive display, clocking the second fastest time on SS 3 behind Belgian Thierry Neuville (Ford). Latvala now leads the rally, ahead of Neuville and Dani Sordo (Citroën). Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) follows in fourth place.

Thursday, 22.08.2013


Latest pictures (10)
22:05 (CEST)


Classification after two of 16 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 19:33.2    
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 19:38.9 +5.7  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 19:45.9 +12.7  
4 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 19:53.7 +20.5  
5 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 19:58.9 +25.7  
6 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 20:03.8 +30.6  
7 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini 20:14.6 +41.4  
8 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 20:18.8 +45.6  
9 M. Kosciuszko / M. Szczepaniak 20:24.2 +51.0  
10 R. Kubica / M. Baran (WRC2) 20:33.0 +59.8  

22:15 CEST

The Rally Germany has started perfectly for us.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7

“That was a good start for us – I am very happy with second place. I hope I can match Séb’s pace again tomorrow. At the same time, I must also keep an eye on Thierry Neuville, as he is currently my direct rival in the championship. My Polo feels very good, although I did have a lot of understeer on the opening stage – as, it would appear, did a lot of other people. It was a great idea to move the start of the rally to Cologne. It was an impressive backdrop with so many spectators in front of Cologne Cathedral. This allows us to stir up more interest and win more fans for our sport.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“The Rally Germany has started perfectly for us. First the great atmosphere in Cologne, with the famous cathedral in the background. And then also from a sporting point of view. My advantage on the first stage was that I was first out onto the route. That definitely won me a few seconds. However, the rally does not really get going until tomorrow, when we face six difficult stages in the vineyards. It goes without saying that my goal is to still lead come the end of the rally.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“You could not wish for a better start to your home rally. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala were both wide awake, right from the first second. The Polo R WRC also made a good start to its first all-asphalt rally. However, that was just the opening 40 kilometres of the rally. We still have a good 330 ahead of us. The start has been very promising, but it ultimately means very little. What it does do, however, is give the entire team a healthy confidence ahead of the coming 14 special stages, as well as an extra boost of motivation.”


20:50 (CEST)

“The lead is strategically important.”

Ogier to continue as first man out on the route.

 

The two Volkswagen works drivers had strategy in mind as they set the early pace on the opening stages of the Rally Germany. “I really wanted to lead, so that I could be first out on Friday as well,” said Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8), explaining why he went on the attack from the outset. The plan came to fruition: the Frenchman took the lead with back-to-back stage wins, which importantly allows him to start first again on Friday’s six special stages. “That is advantageous on asphalt rallies, because the surface gets dirtier with every car,” explained Ogier.

 

With that in mind, Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) also did a perfect job. The Finn twice clocked the second fastest time and will start second again on Friday, ensuring the route is still largely clean when he sets off. “I am not interested in what Séb does for now. The main focus of my attention is Thierry Neuville,” revealed Latvala, who is battling with the Ford works driver from Belgium for the runner-up spot in the World Championship. This strategy has also worked well so far: Neuville heads to this evening’s service down in third place.


20:25 (CEST)

Ogier followed by Latvala.

Volkswagen one and two at end of Thursday.

 

With the second special stage of the Rally Germany now completed, the two Volkswagen drivers are still looking down on the rest of the field from the top of the overall standings. Sébastien Ogier, at the wheel of the #8 Polo R WRC, was once again the fastest man on the 14.10-kilometre SS 2 (Sauertal). The Frenchman, who leads the World Championship, clocked a time of 7:23.4 minutes to finish ahead of his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (#7) in second place for the second stage in a row. This time the Finn was just 1.1 seconds off the leader’s pace. As on the opening stage, Thierry Neuville (Ford) was again the fastest driver not in a Polo R WRC. The Belgium came home third in 7:26.9 minutes.

 

After two of the Rally Germany’s 16 special stages, Ogier now leads with a time of 19:33.2 minutes, ahead of Latvala (+5.7 seconds) and Neuville (+12.7 seconds). Dani Sordo (Citroën) in fourth place is already over 20 seconds behind the leader.


18:25 (CEST)

Perfect start to home rally for Volkswagen.

The Rally Germany could not have started better for the home team. Volkswagen Motorsport claimed a stunning one-two on the opening special stage (Blankenheim). Sébastien Ogier clocked the fastest time of 12:09.8 minutes on the 23.54-kilometre stage in his #8 Polo R WRC. Jari-Matti Latvala (#7) was just 4.6 seconds slower than his French team-mate in a time of 12:14.4 minutes.

 

Belgian Thierry Neuville (Ford) was third fastest (12:19.0 minutes), almost ten seconds behind leader Ogier. Spain’s Dani Sordo (Citroën) was a further six seconds back in fourth place, with a time of 12:25.2 minutes. Evgeny Novikov (Ford) had to retire just a few kilometres into the stage.


16:45 (CEST)

“Kölle alaaf” from Ogier: Rally Germany gets underway from in front of Cologne Cathedral.

 

The starting signal for the Rally Germany, the ninth of 13 events in this year’s WRC, was given against the impressive backdrop of Cologne Cathedral and thousands of enthusiastic spectators. Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (both France) were the first to roll over the starting ramp in their Polo R WRC (#8) – a privilege reserved for the World Championship leaders. “A sensational atmosphere. It was definitely worth coming to Cologne,” said Ogier, who welcomed fans with the typical Cologne carnival greeting of “Kölle alaaf” – “Cologne above all”.

 

He was followed two minutes later by team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Polo R WRC #7), who currently lie second in the overall standings.

 

The Rally Germany was starting from Cologne for the first time. Two special stages (Blankenheim and Sauertal) are scheduled for Thursday evening, before the 80-strong field travels down to Trier, where it will resume battle in the morning.


The fastest taxi ride of her life. TV presenter Andrea Kaiser meets Sébastien Ogier. The video.

Previews

Wednesday, 21.08.2013


14:45 (CEST)

Jari-Matti Latvala fastest on shakedown –
Sébastien Ogier in fourth.

Big surprise in the free practice ahead of the Rally Germany. Volkswagen works driver Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) clocked the fastest time (2:23.5 minutes) on the so-called shakedown. The Finn, widely regarded as a gravel specialist, was 0,7 seconds quicker than Daniel Sordo in the Citroën. Thierry Neuville (Belgium/Ford) was third. Latvalas team-mate Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) followed in fourth place.


Unlike at gravel rallies, no qualifying takes place at asphalt events like the Rally Germany. Instead, the drivers start according to their positions in the World Championship standings. As such, championship leader Sébastien Ogier will be first out onto the route on Thursday, followed by Jari-Matti Latvala.


Current Pictures (15)
Last update: 17:10 (CEST)


The calm before the storm. We’re waiting for Rally Germany. The video.


12:10 (CEST)

Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula forced to withdraw from Rally Germany.


Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) have had to withdraw from the Rally Germany for health reasons. A diagnosis prior to the start of the Rally Germany revealed that co-driver Mikko Markkula had fractured his seventh vertebra and partially fractured his eighth vertebra, presumably during the Rally Finland three weeks ago. Based on these findings, Volkswagen Motorsport took the decision to withdraw Mikkelsen/Markkula for health and safety reasons. Mikko Markkula had complained of back problems during the Rally Finland, but these had eased off after the rally. However, the pain returned during Monday’s “Recce”. The team decided to send Markkula for an MRI scan, which ultimately confirmed that the Finn would have to withdraw for health reasons.


“Safety comes first, particularly when it comes to Mikko Markkula’s health,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The fractured vertebrae were not easy to diagnose, which is why we took our time to ensure that we made the right decision. It would have been too risky to send Andreas Mikkelsen out with a co-driver, alongside whom he has not driven a single metre prior to the rally and who did not take part in the ‘Recce’. Andreas has changed his style of pace note this season, and Mikko is the only co-driver familiar with them. Unfortunately they must both withdraw from the Rally Germany and are very disappointed. Everyone in the team has their fingers crossed that Mikko will make a speedy recovery.”

 

Mikko Markkula, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
„I suffered severe back pains on the Sunday of the Rally Finland. We assumed it was muscular tension. The pain eased off after the rally, just as the doctors had said it would. However, it has returned over the past few days and I went to see Dr. Johannes Peil on Tuesday evening for a more accurate MRI scan. It was then that we determined I had fractured the two vertebrae. Nobody had considered that possibility, and it was obviously a shock because it meant we would have to withdraw from the rally at the last minute. We are really disappointed. I also feel sorry for the team, for whom we wanted to get a good result at our home rally. I am now hoping to get back to full fitness as soon as possible.“

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
„I was very much looking forward to the Rally Germany and am disappointed that we cannot line up at our team’s home event. However, the health of my co-driver Mikko Markkula obviously takes priority. I hope his two vertebrae heal quickly and we can start together in the World Rally Championship again soon. We have worked hand in hand this season to develop what, for me, is a completely new system of pace notes, with which only he is familiar. It was not possible to find a replacement with such little time before the start of the rally. I will now try to support the team as much as possible in other ways. At least we completed the ‘Recce’, so we can call on that information over the coming years.“


17:00 (CEST)

Packed programme for fans

at the “Arena Panzerplatte”.

 

Volkswagen will put on an extensive programme of information and entertainment for fans, media representatives and guests at the atmospheric highlight of the Rally Germany on Saturday – the legendary “Arena Panzerplatte” special stage on the Baumholder military training ground, which is usually out of bounds to the general public. A specially produced TV programme will be beamed onto an 80m² video wall.



 

Presenter Markus Schramm and rally expert Dieter Depping will guide guests through the programme. The Volkswagen test and development driver is a three-time winner of the Rally Germany, making him the second most successful driver at the popular asphalt rally behind record champion Sébastien Loeb. TV presenter Oliver Sittler (Eurosport, n-tv) will interview guests and experts.



 

A host of big names, media representatives and celebrities, including members of the board of the Wolfsburg-based company, the sporting directors of the manufacturers represented in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), motorsport legend Jacky Ickx, two-time World Rally Champion Luis Moya, stratospheric skydiver Felix Baumgartner, ADAC Sport President Hermann Tomczyk, and actors Erol Sander and Ingo Naujoks, are expected in the Volkswagen Hospitality, which is located on the grounds of the Panzerplatte. Directly opposite Volkswagen Hospitality is a specially erected grandstand with 200 seats. TV chef Mario Kotaska will be on hand with his “Bratwerk” food stand to look after the physical well-being of the guests and marshals at the Panzerplatte.

Tuesday, 20.08.2013


11:05 (CEST)

Championship within reach – but not at all cost.

The chances are slim, but Sébastien Ogier could technically become the world rally champion at the forthcoming Rally Germany. The easiest way to do it would be as follows: Ogier wins and his closest competitors – teammate Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) and the equal-placed Thierry Neuville (Belgium/Ford) – finish the rally empty-handed. If this were to happen, Ogier would be the 2013 champion with four rallies still to go until the end of the season – and that would be earlier than even the nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb ever managed.

But Ogier, who has won five of the eight WRC events so far, isn’t interested in such flights of fancy. “I don’t absolutely have to win,” the Frenchman says. “I’ll be happy if all I do is maintain my lead in the leader board.”

This is an ambitious target in itself, because Rally Germany is the first purely asphalt-based challenge for the Polo R WRC. Volkswagen Motorsport has engaged in thorough testing ahead of its home rally, but until the rally starts there is no way of knowing whether Ogier will be able to gain the upper hand over his competitors on asphalt as well as he has so far on gravel, snow and ice.

For the first time, the rally will start in Cologne (Thursday, 16:15). The field of approximately 80 rally vehicles will start against the impressive backdrop of Cologne Cathedral and will head to Trier, the rally centre for the rest of the event (service park on Trier’s exhibition grounds). The rally then comprises 16 special stages over a total distance of 372 kilometres, before the cars reach the finishing line by the Porta Nigra in Trier at 14:00 on Sunday. Among the stages is the classic “Panzerplatte” stage held on the Baumholder military training area.

Volkswagen Motorsport, which is currently at the top of the leader board in the Manufacturers’ Championship, is entering three teams into its home rally. Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (Polo R WRC #8), the runner-up of the Finnish championship Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila (Polo R WRC #7), and the Norwegian-Finnish duo Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula will all be chasing down those tenths of a second.

Friday, 16.08.2013


12:30 (CEST)

“The Rally Germany will be a very special event.” Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Polo R WRC #7

“I particularly like the ‘Arena Panzerplatte’ stage on the Rally Germany. Routes like that have their very own unique allure and should feature far more often on rallies. Otherwise, some of the roads are very reminiscent of Finland. There are a lot of wide roads, on which you can really put your foot down. The vineyard areas on the Mosel have their very own flair, which is unique to the World Rally Championship. When it is dry there, those sections are brilliant. But woe betide it should rain! The roads then become muddy and it is extremely difficult to control the car. I finished runner-up last year – my best result here to date. I would like to achieve at least that again, in order to present our dedicated team with a good result at its home rally.”

 

Sébastien Ogier, Polo R WRC #8

“I am trying to take a totally happy-go-lucky approach to the Rally Germany. A win would obviously be a hugely important step towards the title. And the World Championship is my dream for this season. However, when you look at the current standings, I do not necessarily have to win at all costs. My goal will be to maintain my lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Having said that, victory in Germany would be fantastic for my team. They more than deserve it. Our team is making all the difference at the moment. We head to Germany full of confidence. To be perfectly honest: why shouldn’t we win there?”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Polo R WRC #9

“The Rally Germany will be a very special event, for both the team and the drivers. It is particularly important for Volkswagen to achieve a good result at its home rally. Everyone involved will be especially focussed. The Rally Germany is the first real asphalt rally of the year, and consists of many different types of asphalt. There are three different kinds of special stage. On the one hand you have the military special stages, with quite aggressive concrete. Then there are the vineyards with their narrow, gravelly roads. And then you also have the roads with perfectly flat asphalt. For me, the Rally Germany is the most challenging asphalt rally. Prior to the rally we had a test on asphalt, at which our car was excellent. I am now really looking forward to the Rally Germany.“

Thursday, 15.08.2013


10:00 (CEST)

„We started from scratch.“

Interview with Sébastien Ogier.


Sébastien, you made one of your dreams come true by winning Rally Finland and you could technically win the drivers’ championship outright at the upcoming rally in Germany. How are you handling this situation?

I’m really very happy about winning Rally Finland. It’s a rally that I love and that I have wanted to win ever since I embarked on this career. I’m currently not giving much thought to the possibility of winning the championship at Rally Germany. I would have to win and Jari-Matti and Thierry would have to fail to pick up any points, and that’s not very likely. But the fact remains that I do want to become the world champion and I will do everything I can to achieve that.


How did you get into rallying?
I’d actually always dreamt of being a racing driver, but I had a relatively late start because I didn’t have the opportunity to take part in any races when I was younger – it was too expensive for my parents to be able to afford. But I’ve always had a keen interest in sport. As I grew up in the Alps, I started skiing at an early age. I also did a lot of cycling and played a bit of football too. I’ve always liked to see how I rate against others. And then an opportunity presented itself when France’s motorsport federation organised the Rally Jennes, a talent competition. I won the competition and was then able to finance my first rally.

 

After suffering a complex collarbone fracture, Julien was only back in shape shortly before Rally Finland and was only able to compete with a piece of body armour made of carbon. How happy were you to have him back at your side?

Julien and I have known each other for years and we absolutely understand each other. So I was very relieved when the doctors gave him the go-ahead to participate in Rally Finland.

 
How did you get to know Julien?
When I won the talent competition, he introduced himself to me and my team and offered his services as my co-driver. Back then, I didn’t know anyone in my circle of friends who could take on the job – and I was looking for someone with a little experience under their belt anyway. So we started to work together and we clicked straight away.

Tell us about the recce stages ahead of a rally. What speed do you go at?
We don’t really go all that fast during recces. And most of the time there’s even a speed limit of 80 km/h. For me, it’s important that I can develop a constant rhythm in order to read the route correctly and provide my co-driver with the right data. To be honest, the recces aren’t exactly the most exciting part of a rally. You have to drive slowly and you often spend twelve hours behind the wheel, which can be pretty tough. But it’s a very important task, of course. A rally has hundreds of bends and if I dictate just one of them incorrectly during the recce, it may mean we go flying off course and end up out of the rally.

Are there certain points of a route that you make an extra effort to remember yourself? What do you leave to Julien?
It’s entirely my job to remember the route. Julien has no part to play in deciding what goes into the pace notes – all he has to do is write them down and read them back to me later at the right time. So assessing the route is entirely down to me.

 

Tell us about the bizarre situation with the closed gate in Mexico.
(Laughs.) Yeah, that was a pretty crazy incident. The situation was that we had a pretty comfortable lead when the incident happened, and that helped me to remain calm. But we still had to stop. So I asked Julien whether he would be so kind as to open the gate (laughs). Fortunately, it happened along a stretch where the driving wasn’t all that fast anyway. And I was pretty confident that the FIA would recompense me for the time we’d lost, which they did.

 

How did you like meeting Sebastian Vettel in Monaco? Can you envisage ever driving a Formula 1 car?
Meeting him was great, really interesting. I had met Sebastian before at the Race of Champions. He’s a nice guy and I really enjoyed being able to talk shop with him for a while. As for driving a Formula 1 car some time – why not? If we could organise it, I wouldn’t think twice about swapping with him so that I could do a few laps in his Red Bull and for him to drive the Polo R WRC. Driving a Formula 1 car would be a dream come true.

 

What was the transition from a Citroën to a Polo like? What surprised you the most?
The biggest difference was that I was suddenly in a completely new team that didn’t have any WRC experience, while Citroën has been competing for years. So we started from scratch. But that was precisely the kind of challenge that I had been looking for. And considering how we are now ranked, I’d say we did a pretty good job of doing our homework.

 

One last question: Is there a car that you would say was your dream car?
There are quite a few. I will be driving a Porsche 911 Turbo next, and that’s absolutely a dream car.

Wednesday, 14.08.2013


“The more rounded drivers compete in the World Rally Championship!” Interview with Willy Rampf, WRC Technical Director.

 

Willy, you were involved in Formula 1 for a long time before you joined Volkswagen Motorsport. What’s the biggest difference between the two when it comes to development work and what similarities are there?
The biggest difference between development work in Formula 1 and in the World Rally Championship is that there is a great deal of computer-based theoretical development in Formula 1, whereas we have direct dealings with the drivers in the WRC. In Formula 1, you can spend the winter developing a car on the computer and then present the finished product in the spring. That wouldn’t be feasible in the case of a rally vehicle.

What was the appeal of developing a vehicle for rally use?
Like Formula 1, there is a very high technical level in the World Rally Championship. The two events therefore have the same appeal and the motivation to work on them is also the same. It’s a huge challenge. In both cases, it’s a question of having the best technical solution. And both Formula 1 and the WRC are in the Champions League of motorsport.

Rally Germany is the first purely asphalt-based rally of the season. How do you go about getting the Polo R WRC ready for that?
We conducted testing over a period of several days with our three drivers, specifically in preparation for Rally Germany. We’re not allowed to make any changes to the vehicle’s basic concept due to homologation. So what we primarily do is fine-tune the mechanics, in other words the suspension and the suspension travel. The vehicle is much lower than in the gravel rallies, so we need less suspension travel and the shock absorbers are tighter. Also, the vehicle’s braking energy is much higher in an asphalt rally than in a gravel rally due to the better grip, so we install a larger braking system for Rally Germany.

In Formula 1, telemetry is an important source of information for the engineers during a race. What information can you glean from the Polo R WRC during a stage?

During a special stage, we only really see the Polo’s split times, which allow us to compare our vehicle to those of our competitors. Other than that, we don’t log any other data during a special stage. In contrast, there is permanent remote data transmission during a Formula 1 race. Telemetry gives you real-time readings of, for example, the vehicle’s revs per minute, oil pressure and exhaust temperature. None of this is possible with a rally car, which makes things more difficult for the engineers – you can’t respond to a problem from the command centre.

Where do you find the very best racing drivers – in Formula 1 or in the WRC?
There are true artists behind the wheel in both racing series. Formula 1 drivers are specialists in the field of aerodynamics and know how to keep their tyres at the perfect temperature, for example. But the more rounded drivers compete in the World Rally Championship. A rally driver has to be able to cope with all possible conditions and is always pushing things to the limit.