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Wolfsburg (17 November 2016). Good start to the finale: #volkswagen kicked off the Rally Australia with the top two times in the Shakedown. World champions* elect Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), who must open the route on the Friday and Saturday of the rally, and will thus be faced with unfavourable conditions due to a thick layer of loose gravel that covers the Australian roads, were the fastest duo in the FIA World Rally Championship's (WRC) "free practice". The second fastest time in the Polo R WRC's final hurrah went to Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), who are battling for second place in the Drivers' and Co-Drivers' Championship down under. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), who start sixth in Volkswagen's third World Rally Car and are thus best-placed to challenge for victory, clocked the sixth fastest time.
Following the ceremonial start of the Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour on Thursday evening, the race itself gets underway on Friday morning with the opening special stage "Utungun". The itinerary features 23 special stages and 312.98 kilometres against the clock.
* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.
Quotes after the Shakedown ahead of the Rally Australia
Sébastien Ogier, #volkswagen #polorwrc 1
"The Shakedown passed without any problems. Julien and I would obviously like to finish on the podium at Volkswagen's final rally, but that will be far from easy. The starting position has a huge influence here. However, the fact that Australia will be the final rally with our team overshadows everything else. We have had four fantastic and incredibly successful years with our team in the World Rally Championship. I will always remember this time. I will be thinking of that this weekend."
Jari-Matti Latvala, #volkswagen #polorwrc 2
"It is obviously a special situation this weekend. The final rally for #volkswagen also means that today was the final Shakedown in the #polorwrc. We set a good time on the very first run, and then tried a few things out after that. The special stages are promising, and I am looking forward to starting the final rally with the fantastic #volkswagen team."
Andreas Mikkelsen, #volkswagen #polorwrc 9
"We used the first run of the Shakedown to get used to this special gravel. On the whole, we are happy: the set-up is right and we have a good feeling for the car. We are ready for the Rally Australia. The only concern is the amount of dust, which made life very difficult on the first run, when we set off three minutes apart. That will certainly be an issue over the next few days."
Sven Smeets, #volkswagen Motorsport Director
"It is obviously always a good thing to start a rally weekend with the top two times. It gives us plenty of confidence ahead of our final race in the World Rally Championship. We want to do well here, and would ideally bid farewell with a win. The very specific conditions at the Rally Australia, with a lot of loose gravel and masses of dust, will make this far from easy. However, we will, as always, do everything in our power to come out on top."
Rally Australia, Shakedown results
01. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), #volkswagen, 3m 01.5s
02. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), #volkswagen, + 0.1s
03. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 0.8s
04. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, +1.0s
05. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 1.0s
06. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), #volkswagen + 1.1s
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