Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) made their mark on day two of the Rally Finland. The Volkswagen pairing leads the fastest rally of the year with the Polo R WRC ahead of the grand finale on Saturday. The two Frenchmen first moved to the top of the overall standings on day two of what is known as “Formula One in the Forest”, before opening up a lead bit by bit. The duo, which leads both the driver and co-driver competitions in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), won seven of the day’s nine special stages and now holds a 38.1-second lead over Thierry Neuville and Mads Østberg (both Ford). On the first of today’s two loops, each of which consisted of four special stages, Ogier/Ingrassia clocked similar top times to their rivals at Ford and Citroën. On the second loop, however, they set an irresistible pace and rounded off a superb day by winning the evening’s Super Special Stage.
Quotes after day two of the Rally Finland
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“I am happy with the way day two of our home rally panned out. We started under Rally 2 regulations, meaning we were the first car out onto the route. This morning, when the road was still wet after the rain, this was certainly a small advantage, as the grip level was a bit higher. On the second loop, the opposite was true. The many ruts and various tracks left by smaller rally cars did not make driving any easier for us. However, we achieved the goal we had set ourselves for the day: to arrive safely at the finish. We also tried out a few modifications to the set-up of the Polo, which could help us with regard to the forthcoming rallies.”
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“More than 30 seconds is really a good lead over the second-placed driver, but the rally still has a long way to go. This is particularly true as the legendary ‘Ouninpohja’ special stage still awaits us twice tomorrow – for me the absolute highlight of this weekend. I can hardly wait to finally drive here in a World Rally Car. Today was great for us. We put our foot down, but did not push ourselves right to the very limit. The roads were very rough and difficult, particularly in the afternoon. The risk of getting a puncture was simply too great for an unconditional attack. Picking up points towards the World Championship are obviously the top priority, but I want to try to fulfil my dream of winning the Rally Finland for the first time.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“A day of highs, but unfortunately also lows for me. I still have a lot to learn in the World Rally Championship, but particularly at the Rally Finland. I was driving most of today’s stages for the first time in a World Rally Car. Our plan was to master them as quickly as possible and with as little risk as possible. And it nearly worked. I tried to use the experience we gained in the morning on the afternoon’s second loop. For this reason, I particularly enjoyed the 13th special stage, ‘Mökkiperä’. Braking points, gear changes and corner entries were just as I had imagined. Up until then everything was running almost perfectly. Unfortunately a damaged suspension put an end to all that on the next stage. It is a shame, as I had my sights set on a top-five result. However, the team will have the Polo excellently prepared for tomorrow and I will start again under Rally 2 regulations. That is important in order to gain more valuable information.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“It doesn’t get any better. Sébastien Ogier produced an irresistible and tactically outstanding performance today. He drove cleverly and conservatively on the morning’s loop, and then won every single stage in the afternoon. He richly deserves to be leading the Rally Finland. However, Andreas Mikkelsen also produced a mature display today. He can be proud of the way he is competing on a par with the top drivers who have greater experience of Finland. Unfortunately he had a problem with the suspension on the penultimate stage of the day and had to retire. However, he will rejoin under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow. Jari-Matti Latvala was also in fine form and bounced back impressively. I am proud of all three.”
And then there was ...
... that one very special stage on the Rally Finland. The 23.66-kilometre “Lankamaa” stage, which the drivers tackled twice on Saturday, ran through the property of rally legend Juha Kankkunen (FIN) for several hundred metres. The three-time winner of the Rally Finland spends every summer on his family farm in Laukaa, where he once learned to drive in a Volkswagen Beetle. “I can practically see the World Rally Cars from the balcony,” said Kankkunen, who took part in the Rally Dakar with Volkswagen in 2005. The Volkswagen drivers paid Kankkunen a visit during Monday’s “Recce”, and allowed the four-time world champion to show them his impressive collection of historic racing cars – including a 1986 Audi Quattro S1.