Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia named the new World Rally Champions with Volkswagen on the opening day of Rallye de France Alsace
Awesome! World Champions!
Ogier/Ingrassia win the World Rally Championship(*) in a Volkswagen Polo R WRC
The crowning moment – Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are 2013 World Rally Champions(*). The result of the opening stage – for a change the Power Stage – of their home event, the Rally France, means the Volkswagen works duo can no longer be caught at the top of the table in the premier league of rallying. And still with more than two rounds to go until the end of the season. The success sees Ogier/Ingrassia make motorsport history on several fronts at the wheel of their Polo R WRC. For them personally, this is their maiden Driver and Co-Driver title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Not only that, but it is the first time a new pairing have conquered the pinnacle of rallying, the WRC, for just short of a decade. At the same time, no driver or co-driver had ever been crowned World Champions whilst driving for a manufacturer making its debut in the World Rally Championship. With the Polo R WRC, Volkswagen is making its first appearance in the WRC in 2013, and has already exceeded all expectations in its rookie season. Volkswagen also leads the Manufacturers’ Championship with three races to go.
“I am proud that our WRC project, which we launched over two years ago, has already yielded a title today,” said Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg. “I am particularly pleased that Volkswagen has become the first manufacturer in the history of the World Rally Championship to claim its maiden WRC title in its debut season. In my current role as Audi Board Member, I would also like to congratulate the entire Volkswagen team on behalf of Audi. With Audi winning the DTM on Sunday and the WRC title today, this is the perfect end to what, for me personally, has been my most successful week in motorsport to date.”
Championship win confirmed on Power Stage at the Rally France
The Power Stage, on which bonus points are awarded to the top three drivers, opened the Rally France on Thursday evening, and promptly produced the deciding moment in the World Rally Championship. Ogier/Ingrassia crowned a dominant season so far by finishing third to clinch the title in front of their home crowd. Their only remaining rivals for the title coming into the rally, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Ford), came home second and are therefore no longer able to catch the French duo. Having completed ten rallies, Ogier/Ingrassia currently have six wins and two second places to their name. Ogier/Ingrassia had already scored 25 points on Power Stages this season alone prior to today’s stage – as many points as are awarded for winning a rally. In winning the title, Ogier/Ingrassia succeed record World Championship winners Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC, Citroën), who had won the previous nine World Rally Championships.
The remaining Volkswagen drivers also got off to a good start at the Rally France. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) ended Thursday’s sprint in sixth. Andreas Mikkelsen/Paul Nagle (N/IRL) in the third Volkswagen Polo R WRC will start day two from fifth place.
Quotes after day one of the Rally France
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7 “To be crowned World Champion at the first attempt with a new team, and a new car, is a performance that cannot be described in words. My most heartfelt congratulations to my team-mates Sébastien Ogier, who thoroughly deserve to be celebrating the title today. It must be a great feeling for them to be crowned champions in front of their home crowd. My goal is to be in contention among the front-runners, as there are valuable points up for grabs for Volkswagen in the Manufacturers’ Championship. I want to do my bit for the team, and that is all I am concentrating on now.”
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8 “I am absolutely overjoyed! I could give everyone in the world a big hug. The feeling is impossible to describe. To have won the World Championship title in France is an absolute dream come true. For the last few days I have been trying not to think too much about it, in order to avoid making any mistakes. The relief now is immense. As a little boy, I used to marvel at the cars and top drivers at the Rally Monte Carlo with my father in my home town of Gap – and now Julien and I are World Rally Champions. It is crazy. However, I am also well aware that rallying is a team sport. This success would never have been possible without our fantastic team at Volkswagen. Whether trucker, mechanic or race engineer, I have to thank everyone. One thing is for sure – we will celebrate in style now!”
Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8 “It is possibly the best day of my life – and definitely of my career! If anyone had told me at the start of the year that Séb and I would already be World Champions with so much of the season still to go, I would immediately have told them they are mad. We were so close in Australia three weeks ago, but now the title win is a reality.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9 “I am absolutely delighted for my team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. Today is their big day. They are more than worthy World Champions and I am proud to line up alongside them for Volkswagen. The entire team has done an outstanding job. This rally, which is so important for Volkswagen, has started with a bang – just as we had hoped. I am looking forward to the next few days, as this is my first time on asphalt with the Polo R WRC. My goal is to improve bit by bit and help Volkswagen as much as possible in the fight for the Manufacturers’ title by scoring some good results.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director “Sébastien and Julien have spent almost two years working very hard for this success. They took a step back last year, and have subsequently performed fantastically at this season’s rallies. They fully deserve to be the new World Champions. At the same time, this is also the greatest sporting success in the history of Volkswagen Motorsport. Our team succeeded at the first attempt in developing a winning car – the Polo R WRC – and defeating opposition with far greater experience.”
And then there was ...
... the only thing that managed to stop Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. A few metres into this morning’s Shakedown, which took place ahead of the Power Stage, the eventual World Champions were confronted with a dastardly obstacle. On their first run, a hydraulic barrier, usually used to stop everyday traffic, started to rise out of the road directly in front of them. Ogier/Ingrassia were forced to wait for the barrier to be lowered again before they were able to continue.
(*) subject to confirmation from the FIA.