A home win worth its weight in gold: Volkswagen duo Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia took a crucial step towards the title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the 36th win of their career. The three-time champions dominated the Rally France on Corsica from the word go, leaving runners-up Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai) and their Volkswagen teammates Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger to fight it out for the minor places.
Ogier/Ingrassia won five of the ten special stages, including a clean sweep on day one of the rally. Their fourth victory of the season, the 40th in 49 rallies for the Polo R WRC, sees them extend their lead in the Driver and Co-Driver Championship to 68 points. Mikkelsen/Jæger and Neuville/Gilsoul are now their only remaining rivals in the title race. The third Volkswagen duo, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), ended the Rally France into fourth place, but are no longer in contention for the title.
66 points clear – Volkswagen could win the Manufacturers’ World Championship at the next round of the WRC
Volkswagen also has its first match point in the battle for the Manufacturers’ Championship at the coming rally in Spain. To win the title there, the Wolfsburg-based carmaker must score 20 points more than its closest rival Hyundai. This would secure them their fourth back-to-back title in the most prestigious world championship in motorsports outside Formula 1. The two drivers nominated by a manufacturer – Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala at Volkswagen – can score a maximum 43 points.
“What we really wanted this weekend was to get the win at our home rally. It is the first time that Julien and I have won a WRC event on Corsica and it feels fantastic. It’s a real classic. We had a strong start on Friday and were able to manage the lead on Saturday and Sunday. It went perfectly. I couldn’t be happier. The chances of being able to celebrate the championship title here were only really theoretical, but now we have a real possibility of clinching it in Spain. We are so close to getting our fourth star. It’s fantastic and naturally we will turn all of our attention to that now. We want to take the momentum from Corsica with us. But we won’t be driving tactically at all, we want to fight for the win there, too.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get any points from the Power Stage because I was a little bit too cautious in places. Overall we aren’t overly happy with our performance – but I only have myself to blame. In terms of set-up, we went in a direction that didn’t work. Now we are looking to the future, since we want to do much better at the Rally Spain and finish on the podium again there at least. Last year we were involved in a thrilling battle for second place with our team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, which we want to win this time.”
“A strong rally, I’m very pleased with the result. And we’re finally on the podium again, it feels like an eternity since the last one in Poland. We picked up a lot of points, partly thanks to the second place on the Power Stage, and this means that we didn’t lose too much ground on Thierry Neuville in the battle for second place in the championship – that was the aim. Now I’m looking forward to the Rally Spain, of which I of course have fond memories. I got my first rally win in the World Rally Championship there last year.”