The Volkswagen duo Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) are poised to win the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). They extended their lead in the rally standings prior to the final day of the Rally Australia by achieving all six possible best Stage times with the Polo R WRC. They will go into the last six Special Stages on Sunday 45.9 seconds clear of the field. Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) and Thierry Neuville (Ford) are in second and third place Down Under.
If the Rally Australia order remains the same on Sunday, Ogier/Ingrassia only need to come second in the final Power Stage to win the WRC for Drivers and Co-Drivers before the season has even finished – regardless of how their competitors perform. Considering the two Frenchmen’s track record, it looks like the title is within their reach: the leading duo have won 14 of the 16 Special Stages completed so far, with the remaining two going to their Volkswagen team-mates. On Saturday, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) moved up into fourth place in the overall standings while Andreas Mikkelsen/Paul Nagle (N/IRL) finished day three Down Under fifth overall.
Quotes following day three of the Rally Australia
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“We’re now in a very good position to collect important points for the Manufacturers’ Championship. That was our aim right from the start and we’ll concentrate on that tomorrow rather than our position in the drivers’ competition. I’ve had two good afternoons so far, but the mornings have had their ups and downs. This morning, the car span on the first bend of SS 02 on cold tyres, which was annoying. We’re determined to put in a good performance throughout the day tomorrow.”
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“I’m really pleased right now – it was another perfect day for us. Hopefully tomorrow will be just as good. The Polo R WRC’s set-up was ideal again today. It might look easy from the outside, but it most certainly isn’t when you’re sitting in the cockpit. Something could happen any time, as Kris Meeke’s experience today showed. My goal for tomorrow is to try and maintain my rhythm, stay focused, and enjoy every kilometre out on the track – because the Stages are incredibly beautiful. The grip level was high too, especially this afternoon. And we had a slight advantage by starting the Stage last. There’s no doubt that the World Championship title is within our grasp, but we’ve still got a long day to go with six challenging Special Stages.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“It wasn’t exactly easy being one of the first World Rally Cars to tackle the track today. But I made mistakes yesterday and I had to pay for them again today. It was like driving on marbles. But I think we made the best of it. The long, almost 50-kilometre Stage we completed twice today was nothing short of fantastic and it was a lot of fun. This afternoon’s rerun was the most enjoyable, of course, once the line had been cleared a bit more. The car swerved badly right at the beginning of the ‘Valla’ Stage and I hit something with the back. Apart from that, I had clean runs in today’s Special Stages. All in all, I’m satisfied.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Australia is going perfectly for Volkswagen. The Polo R WRC has won all of the Special Stages so far. I couldn’t ask for more as Motorsport Director. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have put themselves in an outstanding position with a chance of winning the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship early tomorrow. In other words, tomorrow is a crucial day in the World Rally Championship 2013. Jari-Matti Latvala regained ground again today and could score important points in the Manufacturers’ Championship tomorrow. Andreas Mikkelsen put in a good performance today too, although he didn’t have the best starting position. We’re happy. But tomorrow will be another tough day and we are anything but complacent.”