From fourth to first – Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) produced a courageous comeback to take the lead at the end of day two of the Rally Monte Carlo. The Volkswagen duo in the #1 Polo R WRC won three of the day’s five special stages, finishing runner-up in the other two.
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) ended the second day of the “Monte” in fifth place. However, the Volkswagen duo could easily fill a special supplement with the story of their day. Having already fought their way through the field from 17th to sixth yesterday, they found themselves back in eighth place after a puncture on day two. However, the duo hit back immediately and even clocked the fastest time in the dark on the final stage of the day.
The charging Finnish pair benefitted from the misfortune that befell their team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) in the third Polo R WRC. The young duo, on slick tyres, slid slowly off the road on a particularly slippery section. However, they were able to continue and go into Saturday’s final four special stages in eighth place overall.
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1: “Thankfully we made an intelligent tyre choice today. However, the heavy rain meant conditions were once again extremely difficult. In particular, the spots with fresh bitumen were almost like ice. There is a good reason why we drivers call those conditions ‘Black Ice’. On the whole, we are happy with the second day. After all, we not only reduced the deficit but are actually ahead of Bryan Bouffier going into the final day.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2: “Another ‘Monte’ day that once again had its highs and lows, but also a nice finish. The morning’s loop was very slippery and difficult. The sheer quantity of rain had made the patches of bitumen particularly tricky. Unfortunately we suffered a puncture after the midday service, and lost a lot of time as a result. Winning the final stage of the day and climbing back up to fifth place has given us plenty of motivation ahead of the final day. A top-five finish was our goal right from the start, and we are still on course to achieve that.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9: “It is no coincidence that the Rally Monte is regarded as the most difficult rally on the WRC calendar. It is incredibly hard to make the right tyre selection. It is almost impossible to judge the conditions out on the route correctly. A lot of grip here, standing water or icy sections there – it all changes dramatically from one metre to the next. We felt the effect of that on the first special stage of the afternoon.
On slicks, we had no chance of avoiding sliding on a slippery spot in a very slow curve. Fortunately we could continue, but we lost a lot of time. On top of that, I had to let my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala through, as he was flying on different tyres. We were ultra-cautious on the final special stage in the dark. I am pleased to have arrived in Monaco. Tomorrow we tackle the legendary stages on the Col de Turini – a first for me.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director: “Top class. That is probably the best way to describe the performance of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. They came from almost 50 seconds behind to end the day with a 50-second lead. They fully deserve to lead the ‘Monte’. Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen’s two incidents showed just how quickly the rally can be over. It was only thanks to a good portion of luck that they were able to continue and are still in the points.
The ‘Monte’ is still far from over. Despite the fact that there are only 80 kilometres of special stage tomorrow, there are still some hard nuts to crack. Tomorrow’s itinerary features the legendary Col de Turini – that will once again be pure ‘Monte’. The entire team will have to stay fully focussed.”
And then there were...
... the day’s other 348 kilometres. For the crews servicing the World Rally Cars, the end of the midday service signalled the start of their very own race against time. Overnight, the Service Park for the Rally Monte Carlo moves from Gap to Monaco. The Alpine scenery is replaced with a view of the harbour. As soon as Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s Polo R WRC was sent back on its way in Gap, the crew set about dismantling everything.
The Volkswagen team’s trucks reached Monaco late in the evening. There was no chance for a breather, however, as they immediately set about assembling the Service Park in order to be ready for the fifth service of the “Monte” on Saturday. The Rally Monte Carlo is the only round of the WRC, at which the Service Park is moved from one location to another.