Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia could be crowned world champions with Volkswagen for the fourth time in a row at their home event in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). And it could happen despite still having three rallies to come after the French round. To have any chance of converting their first “match point”, and drawing level with rally legends Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Mäkinen on four world championship titles, the current championship leaders must win at the Rally France on Corsica (29/09–02/10/2016).
At the same time, however, they would also be dependent on other results going their way. As it stands, seven driver/co-driver duos are still in with a mathematical chance of winning the world championship, including all three crews in the Polo R WRC. The possible connotations mean it is well worth following the action at the Rally France on Corsica, which is also known as the “Rally of 10 000 Corners” – as do the ten special stages on rough, sometimes crumbly asphalt, which amount to a spectacular 390.92 kilometres against the clock.
A duo that could be crowned world champions …
… Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia. What could be better than winning your home round of the World Rally Championship? That’s obvious: winning and being crowned world champions there. If Ogier/Ingrassia are to win the Driver and Co-Driver titles for the fourth time with races still to come, then victory in France is an absolute must. Second place will not do. At the same time, their rivals – six of which are still mathematically in contention – must largely leave Corsica empty-handed.
Two duos that could keep the title race alive …
… Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila. The two Volkswagen duos are dependent on different circumstances if they are to keep their hopes alive. Should Mikkelsen/Jæger finish eighth or higher, they would take the battle into Spain. Should the French duo win the rally, then victory on the closing Power Stage for the Norwegians would also keep their dreams alive.
Hayden Paddon/John Kennard and Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul would have to finish at least second in Corsica, and come no lower than second on the Power Stage, to prevent Ogier/Ingrassia celebrating the title in France – provided the championship leaders score maximum points. All the other driver/co-driver duos must simply lose as few points as possible to the leaders, or preferably gain as much ground as possible, in order to keep the championship open. Should Latvala/Anttila drop no more than three points to Ogier and Ingrassia, they will remain in the title race.
“I hope the weather on Corsica plays ball this year. Parts of the rally had to be cancelled last year due to torrential rain. There are a number of new sections of route, and many of the special stages have been altered. As such, it is important to do an accurate Recce. I like these kind of changes, as it makes the rally a completely new challenge. On the whole, Corsica is far from an easy rally. As in Germany, where four drivers were still in contention towards the end of the rally, I expect the race on Corsica to be a similarly close affair. After Julien and I failed to hit top form here for the past two years, my own personal goal is to finally drive well again at the Rally France and to challenge for the win.”
“I have won the last two rallies in France, and am obviously hoping for a good result again this year. I like driving on the asphalt in Corsica. The surface is very rough and also quite bumpy in places. You cannot cut the corners so much. That means that you get less dirt on the roads and the grip level is consistently high. I like asphalt rallies like this one, so I am really looking forward to Corsica. The routes there have a huge number of corners, and there are actually no straights longer than 150 metres. I think that will suit me. There are only a few stages, but they are very long. Tyre management can be crucial on such long stages.”
“I am looking forward to the Rally France, because a unique asphalt rally awaits us on Corsica. The special stages are few in number but very long, full of corners and technically demanding. Previous races there have shown that you need to look after your tyres and brakes. If you simply floor it without thinking, you will be punished at this rally. In my opinion, the first special stage will be key. You must immediately find your rhythm for the entire rally. Although I probably prefer a more varied rally, with a mix of short and long stages, my co-driver Anders and I are ready and in top form ahead of this challenge. Although the championship is still up for grabs, I am actually focussing more on the men behind us – Paddon, Neuville and Jari-Matti. I am out to extend my advantage over these guys with a podium result.”