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Volkswagen going all out for victory at the Polo R WRC’s last hurrah
Volkswagen bids farewell to the #wrc at the #rally Australia
Mikkelsen/Jæger battling down under to finish runners-up in the world championship Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila determined to go out with a bang
Wolfsburg (11 November 2016). 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 (N/N), in particular, will be going all out for victory down under – as will their team-mates Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN). The three driver/co-driver pairings 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, 14 points behind second-placed Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai), but three points ahead of Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ, Hyundai) and ten clear of Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E, 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.
Play it again, Seb and Julien – miracles do happen
Coffs Harbour, 13 September 2015, 13:49 and eleven seconds – Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia cross the finish line at the 2015 #rally Australia as winners to wrap up the world championship and secure the Manufacturers’ title for Volkswagen. The magnitude of this achievement in 2015 was bordering on miraculous: the #rally Australia is regarded as one of the very worst events, at which to open the route. However, Ogier and Ingrassia defied both physics and pre-race predictions to win. In 2016, the regulations regarding the starting order
were changed, further exacerbating their situation – were they to produce another #rally miracle, it would be the 39th victory for Ogier/Ingrassia, the 32nd with Volkswagen. Motivation enough for the four-time world #rally champions.
Play it again, Jari-Matti and Miikka – in pursuit of a happy ending
The 2016 season has hardly been a lucky one for Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila. Their goal down under is to bring the year to a positive end – ideally with a win. Latvala/Anttila’s last victory came in very similar conditions at the #rally Mexico, which was also held on powdery, sandy gravel. They start sixth, the most favourable starting position of the three Volkswagen drivers.
Strobe lighting in the rainforest, coupled with a mix of monster and mini stages
Narrow and winding, or wide and flowing: the route at the #rally Australia features a wide range of characteristics. One minute you are flat-out on open ground, the next you are winding your way through tight sections, lined by unforgiving trees in the Australian rainforest. With the low sun, the result is an effect similar to strobe lighting, as the cars race in and out of the shadows. This is only exacerbated by the road surface. Extremely fine sand is whipped up into large dust clouds, restricting visibility for the drivers and demanding the utmost concentration.
One of the longest stages of the season awaits the drivers and co-drivers on Saturday, in the form of “Nambucca”. Exactly 50.80 kilometres must be overcome. The enormous length and the wide variety of different surfaces encountered make this one of the greatest challenges of the entire #rally. Far shorter, but by no means less spectacular, are the six spectator stages at the #rally Australia. The “Raceway” stage features on Friday and Saturday. The 1.37- kilometre Rallycross circuit has plenty of potential for a spectacular drift show. The same goes for “Destination NSW”. The spectator stage in Coffs Harbour is the final stage on both of the first two days of the #rally. As in 2015, the final stage of the #rally Australia, and this time the 2016 #rally season, will be the beautifully-named “Wedding Bells” Power Stage.
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