Three Polo R WRCs in the top six – Volkswagen made a fine start to the Rally Finland with good results in qualifying. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), who currently lead the driver and co-driver standings in the World Championship, qualified second fastest. Their Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were fifth in qualifying, with Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) just behind them in sixth. The Volkswagen pairings converted their good qualifying results into promising starting positions: Sébastien Ogier opted to start 13th, Jari-Matti Latvala tenth and Andreas Mikkelsen ninth in the fiercely-competitive World Rally Cars field. The battle to gain first choice – the honour that goes to the fastest man in qualifying – was a close affair: the top six in qualifying were separated by less than a second.
Quotes after qualifying for the Rally Finland
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“I am delighted that the Rally properly gets started tomorrow. We prepared meticulously and my Polo feels very good. I am really confident. I was a little too cautious in qualifying, but fifth place is still a good basis. The times in qualifying were very close, so the spectators can look forward to an exciting rally. Driving in front of my home crowd is obviously very special for me, and I am 100 per cent motivated to get a good result. Fifth place here in Finland is not such a big disadvantage as it would be elsewhere, as the effect of an increasingly clean line is not so great.”
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“My goal was to finish in the top three, so with that in mind I am more than happy with second place. The car feels good, so last week’s test here in Finland appears to have paid off. Whatever happens, the fans can look forward to an exciting rally, as the gaps at the top are really small. I am also very happy that my regular co-driver Julien Ingrassia has recovered from his injured collarbone and the ensuing operation, and has taken his place next to me in the cockpit.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I am very happy with qualifying. Sixth place is great. Our run was clean, although you can obviously always identify the odd blemish here or there with hindsight. As such, it was good to have as much leeway as possible when selecting positions. I am looking forward to the start on Thursday – the Rally Finland is very special. I very much like the fast routes and the character of the rally. And now we can finally get started.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Volkswagen has made a good start to the Rally Finland. To land all three Polo R WRCs in the top six – and with such a close result – is a good basis. The gaps are very close, which obviously whets your appetite for the coming three days of rallying, during which details will once again make the difference. I think we are well positioned after qualifying. We are looking forward to the magnificent support of the knowledgeable fans. Finland is also special in this regard.”
And then there was ...
... Julien Ingrassia’s new protector. The co-driver for World Championship leading Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier broke his collarbone whilst training on a mountain bike during the summer break, and was immediately operated on. The 33-year-old Frenchman declared himself fit again, just in time for the Rally Finland. Today’s qualifying also saw a debut for a new implement: Ingrassia is using a specially made protector in Finland. The protective carbon armour was adapted to fit Ingrassia’s left shoulder perfectly in Lausanne by specialist Vincent-Alex Rieder. It ensures that the pressure imparted by any forces at play in the cockpit of the Polo R WRC is distributed equally.