|As if there were any doubts on Volkswagen’s impending repeat title in this season’s WRC (World Rally Championship). With three rounds left, Sebastien Ogier concludes matters at the weekend’s Rally Australia for the definitive double WRC title.|
Compared to last season, Volkswagen WRT have it particularly easy on their way to a repeat title this year. Only a single factory team, newcomers Hyundai WRT had a shot through the first ten rallies to challenge the consistency of the Polo R WRC driven by the remarkable Ogier and team mates Jari Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. Citroen and Ford WRC teams, having gone private, faced plenty of difficulties in the first ten rallies, but had several podiums to boost their manufacturers’ rankings.
All-conquering Volkswagen WRT commands eight of ten rally victories this season
How all-conquering is the Volkswagen WRT squad throughout the first ten rallies? Well, Ogier, for one, has scored more victories than anybody, with five victories to boot: at the season opener in Monaco, then the Rally Mexico, Rally Portugal, Rally Sardinia, Rally Poland and the latest Rally Australia. He holds the triumph card in the Drivers’ standings with 214 points; a 50- point advantage over his team mate, Latvala.
Speaking of Latvala, the Finn has three wins in the bag at the Rally Sweden, Rally Argentina and his home rally. The third Polo R WRC piloted by Mikkelsen has achieved several consistent podium finishes as well. The VW WRT pilots combined to contribute to Volkswagen’s massive Manufacturers’ points haul of 348 against Citroen WRT’s 154. An interesting point to note, the Polo R WRC has won 297 of 428 stages and accounted for the top three spots on 679 stages from rallies across the globe since its debut last season.
Although it was essentially VW’s first win Down Under, they have wrapped up the title the earliest; a record which held for a quarter of a century.
Following a rather disappointing home rally for Volkswagen last time out, the crews vowed to bounce back strong at the rally Down Under. And bounce back they did. In the Rally Australia’s 20 stages, Volkswagen crews took 17 of 20 stage wins and 42 top-three spots. Fittingly, it was a 1-2-3 finish for the Wolfsburg based rally team, with Ogier heading Latvala and Mikkelsen. It was Ogier’s 19th WRC victory, the Frenchman expressed his joy on his double drivers’ title, “I am made up for our team from the last event! The fact that we have wrapped up the WRC title with the first ever all-Volkswagen podium is an incredible success.”
“We can really be proud of ourselves, here at the other end of the world. I tried to control our slender advantage over my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala right through to the finish – and it worked out. I think we put on an exciting duel at the top for the fans. It is awesome that Andreas Mikkelsen rounded off this triumph for the team,” he added.
The WRC crews now head for the remaining three rallies of the season, in France, Spain and Great Britain, with pretty much only the manufacturers’ runners up position to play for; between Citroen and M-Sport.
2014 World Rally Championship Rally Australia results
1. Sébastien Ogier Volkswagen 2:53:18.0
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen + 6.8s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen + 1:18.0
4. Kris Meeke Citroën + 1:44.0
5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 1:53.6
6. Hayden Paddon Hyundai + 2:56.2
7. Thierry Neuville Hyundai + 4:28.2
8. Elfyn Evans Ford + 5:10.0
9. Robert Kubica Ford + 6:39.8
10. Chris Atkinson Hyundai + 9:29.4
1. Sébastien Ogier 214
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 164
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 125
4. Mikko Hirvonen 83
5. Thierry Neuville 79
6. Mads Østberg 74
7. Kris Meeke 67
8. Elfyn Evans 61
9. Martin Prokop 37
10. Henning Solberg 26
1. Volkswagen 348
2. Citroën WRT 154
3. M-Sport 146
4. Hyundai 141
5. Volkswagen II 109
6. Jipocar Czech 40
7. RK M-Sport 25
8. Hyundai N 22