Ogier/Ingrassia, Latvala/Anttila and Mikkelsen/Jæger ready for the 2016 season
Just short of 1000 kilometres of testing with the proven Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2016 WRC season kicks off with the Rally Monte Carlo in mid-January
Prepared as in the previous two years: Volkswagen has been hard at work preparing for its outing at the Rally Monte Carlo with the world championship-winning Polo R WRC and its three driver/co-driver pairings. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) completed roughly 1000 test kilometres in total over the course of the six-day test on the outskirts of Gap, in the French Maritime Alps.
The tests focussed on set-up work and tyre tests with the Polo R WRC, which boasts the highest win ratio in the history of the World Rally Championship. The World Rally Car from Wolfsburg kicks off its fourth WRC season with the Rally Monte Carlo from 21 to 24 January.
Since 2013, Volkswagen has won all nine possible World Championship titles, and has emerged triumphant at 34 of the 39 rallies. In 2014 and 2015, the three Volkswagen duos also monopolised the top three positions in the World Championship standings.
“The Rally Monte Carlo is truly legendary, for many different reasons,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The ever-changing weather conditions, which fluctuate between ice, snow, rain and dry conditions, make the rally precisely what Monaco is renowned for: a gamble.
Furthermore, it is the first rally on the WRC calendar, meaning all the drivers, co-drivers and manufacturers start with zero points. Everyone wants to make the best possible start to the new season and take as much momentum as possible into the coming rallies. As such, tests are of great importance, in order to prepare for the tough tasks ahead.
For the third time in a row, we go into the season as the team to beat, and we will be up against stronger opponents than before: Hyundai has a new car, while M-Sport-Ford has strengthened its squad of drivers and co-drivers. As such, we go into the season with heightened senses – and, thanks to the tests, with sufficient experience for the Monte.”
Taste of things to come at the ever-unpredictable “Monte” – Tests on the outskirts of Gap
Ice and snow on the one hand, freezing rain, black ice or even shiny, dry asphalt on the other – conditions at the Rally Monte Carlo are always anything but predictable. Despite a lack of snow, the tests on and around the Col de Perty near the town of Laborel were worth their weight in gold, as the team looked to adapt to at least a few of the conditions to be expected in January. The three driver/co-driver duos trialled set-up variants for the Polo R WRC and tested various combinations of the Michelin tyres to be used next year. The tests took place about 70 kilometres outside Gap, where the Rally Monte Carlo will be held from 21 to 24 January.
Three pairs of test days for Ogier, Latvala, Mikkelsen and their co-drivers
Two test days for Sébastien Ogier, two for Jari-Matti Latvala and two for Andreas Mikkelsen – the men who finished first, second and third in the 2014 and 2015 world championships. And at their side, their co-drivers for the 2016 season: Julien Ingrassia, who forms his usual partnership with Sébastien Ogier, Miikka Anttila as Jari-Matti Latvala’s trusty navigator, and Anders Jæger, who will make his competitive debut in the Polo R WRC alongside Andreas Mikkelsen at the Monte. This was Jæger’s second outing, following the tests for the Rally Sweden at the end of November.