Title race lives on: Latvala leads in Germany
"Friday was very intense and exciting"
Volkswagen experienced both sides of the coin on day one of the Rally Germany. At the end of the second day of the manufacturer’s home event, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) lead the overall standings in their Polo R WRC. In contrast, the leaders in the driver and co-driver competitions within the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), suffered a set-back in their quest for the WRC title. They skidded off a damp road on the morning of day two, damaging their front suspension. The World Championship leaders had no option but to retire and will re-join the race on Saturday under Rally2 regulations.
After 371.92 kilometres, of which 169 were against the clock, Latvala/Anttila find themselves 7.3 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville in the overall standings, and 26.3 seconds clear of Dani Sordo (Citroën). The drivers tackled each of Friday’s three stages twice. Latvala and his co-driver Anttila upped their pace on the afternoon loop, winning the final two stages to extend their lead with two days to go.
Improbable even before the start of today, the early mistake means there is now no chance of Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia securing the driver and co-driver titles in Germany with races to spare. For this to have been possible, they would have had to win the Rally Germany.
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“Friday was very intense and exciting. The duel with Thierry Neuville remains an extremely close affair. I particularly enjoyed the last two stages of the afternoon – my Polo feels fantastic. It doesn’t really get any better than this. It is obviously a great feeling to lead the Rally Germany after day two. At the same time, I feel sorry for Seb and Julien. Their set-back shows how fine the margins are between success and disappointment here. We haven’t won anything yet either, and will have to try to do a perfect job right until the end. The stages will be very difficult to drive, particularly if it rains tomorrow.”
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“After getting off to such a good start yesterday, the retirement early on day two is obviously disappointing. Unfortunately I hit a damp spot on the tarmac as I braked, meaning I was too quick coming into the corner and ploughed into the bank at quite a speed. This damaged the suspension at the front left so severely that Julien and I lost more than two minutes. We tried to complete the next special stage, but had to give up for safety reasons. The car was undriveable. I feel bad for the team, as I would really have liked to give Volkswagen a win at their home event. Winning Sunday’s Power Stage is now the priority, as I really want to pick up the three World Championship points. It is also important for us to take leave here with some important reference values on asphalt, which we can use at the Rally France in six weeks.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Friday was a day of different emotions for Volkswagen. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia suffered the disappointment of skidding off the track whilst leading today. However, we were able to depend upon Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. The took over the lead and then defended it in a thrilling duel with Thierry Neuville. All in all, we are happy with the result, although we would obviously have hoped for more from Sébastien Ogier. He will resume under Rally2 regulations tomorrow, and will be out to score as many points as possible towards the Manufacturers’ Championship.”
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