The final chapter of a successful era in rallying: Volkswagen lines up with the Polo R WRC in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for the last time. The 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 world champions have a definite maxim for the Rally Australia, the final round of the season from 17 to 20 November: milestone, not melancholy. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger will be going all out for victory down under – as will their team-mates Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila.
The three crews have amassed a total of 42 wins from 51 rallies – and with 621 stage wins from 935 special stages. The Volkswagen duos have clocked the fastest time on two out of every three stages over the past four years. A further 23 special stages and 312.98 kilometres against the clock around Coffs Harbour await the three Polo R WRCs, which have so far completed a total of 47,873.44 kilometres at rally speed.
Play it again, Andreas and Anders – all or nothing in the battle for second place
A four-way battle is raging for second place in the World Rally Championship – and Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger are in the thick of it. The Volkswagen duo is currently third in the overall standings. They are 14 points behind second-placed Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai), but three points ahead of Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (Hyundai) and ten clear of Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (Hyundai). To end the season as the runners-up in the world championship, they must claim a podium finish at least – preferably the win.
The starting position also plays a major role in Australia. The order for Friday and Saturday is determined by the current positions in the world championship. This can be a disadvantage for the early starters, and an advantage for the world rally cars starting further down the field. So far this season, only one duo has managed to win a rally on loose gravel from one of the first three starting positions: a certain Mikkelsen and Jæger.
“It is a strange situation for everyone at Volkswagen Motorsport. The announcement of our withdrawal from the World Rally Championship at the end of the year was not the way that we, as a team, wanted to celebrate our fourth title. We will now contest our final rally together in Australia. When I look back at the last five years, I do not only think about the success we have enjoyed together. I am grateful to have worked with such great people at Volkswagen. We have formed genuine friendships over the years. I can only hope that I see as many as possible of them again.
The final rally with Volkswagen – that sounds crazy. However, I am sure I will be able to put this out of my mind during the rally. Although my starting position is not exactly promising, I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have something to celebrate together again after our final outing in Australia.”
“Last week’s news was far from pleasant. It is very difficult to comprehend the magnitude of this decision in such a short time. I can only repeat that I will always remember the time at Volkswagen Motorsport. The many great moments mean a lot to me, and I would like to thank everyone in the team. It is now my duty to focus fully on the season finale in Australia again. I am really determined to do well in my last rally with Volkswagen, and will push hard to try to challenge for the win. My season has not been easy, so a good result in Australia would be doubly nice – particularly as a farewell present to the team.”
“The Rally Australia will be very emotional, as we all know that it is the final race for Volkswagen. The team has become very close to my heart. I am very grateful for the great time together, and really want to bid farewell with a good result in Australia. That is also important for Anders and me. We want to take back second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ World Championship from my friend Thierry Neuville. To do so, we must go for the win.
However, this will not be easy, as we will be third onto the special stages. Despite this, we will apply pressure from the word go and give it our all. The biggest challenge at the Rally Australia are the sections with fast corners, which are hard to see. A rally in the jungle – that is the best description. I am certainly very motivated and looking forward to Australia, as I really like driving there.”