On course for gold, silver and bronze at the rallying world’s Winter Games – Volkswagen ended the first day of the Rally Sweden in first, second and third. Just with their noses in front are Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F). Over the course of the first seven of 24 special stages, the World Champions were involved in a thrilling internal duel at the top of the standings with fellow Volkswagen pair Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN). A mere 5.8 seconds separate Ogier and Mikkelsen, who both have three stage wins to their name. And team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) are not to be forgotten either. They are a further 6.4 seconds behind Mikkelsen/Markkula in third place – well within striking distance of the leaders.
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“To be first onto the route at a winter rally in Sweden is always difficult. As such, I was not sure what position we would find ourselves in come the evening. Anything in the top three would have been great. I am really extremely happy that we are actually leading the rally. The conditions were remarkably good, and better than we had expected. I am very happy with my own performance. It was a perfect day for us, and to have won three special stages from this starting position is a dream result. We now go into day two full of optimism.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I coped very well with the fast, flowing sections today. However, I unfortunately lost too much time on the short, winding stages. I had problems finding enough grip and a good rhythm on them. Séb and Andreas really set fantastic times. Andreas, in particular, was virtually unbeatable in his native Norway. Tomorrow is a new day, and I start from a good position in third. Maybe I can mix things up a bit at the top of the standings.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“That was definitely the best day I have had since I joined Volkswagen. I won three stages and led the rally – and all on my own doorstep. Then there were the many Norwegian flags, my family and friends who came here to cheer me on. You obviously want to put on a particularly good show with all that support. The conditions were not easy today. I actually held a slender lead going into the final special stage of the day, but decided to save my tyres for tomorrow morning. As such, I lost a bit of time. My goal remains a podium finish. I will certainly not risk everything, but anything is possible.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The job of Volkswagen Motorsport Director is a dream job – especially today. One, two and three – it just doesn’t get any better than this. I am extremely proud of the entire team: the drivers and co-drivers, engineers and mechanics. However, I am particularly proud of Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula. They produced an outstanding display today, going head-to-head with the World Champions and leading the rally for a while. I am delighted for them both. However, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took full advantage of their opportunities today, even though they were first out onto the route. Last, but definitely not least: Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila in third place, who still have a good chance of winning and were in no way inferior to their team-mates. They rounded off the most successful day of rallying to date for Volkswagen.”
And then there was ...
... the unofficial Rally Norway – won today by Volkswagen. And by a Norwegian. The “Kirkener” and “Finnskogen” special stages, each of which was tackled twice, were held just over the border between Sweden and Norway. The only Volkswagen driver in the top three on all four stages: Andreas Mikkelsen.