Volkswagen still leads, amidst more drama
Latvala/Anttila extend lead to just under a minute in Germany
There’s no place like home – Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) have opened up a commanding lead for Volkswagen on day two of the Rally Germany. Fresh from their recent win in Finland, the pair currently second in the World Championship standings won five of the day’s seven special stages. “JML” goes into the final day, which features a further 74.60 of the total 313.77 kilometres against the clock, with a 56.6-second advantage over Kris Meeke (Citroën). Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) have produced a controlled drive at their first asphalt rally in the Polo R WRC and currently lie fifth overall at the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). In contrast, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) were once again on the wrong end of dramatic scenes. They were the first World Rally Car to take to the route, and went off the road at high speed on the second special stage of the day. Driver and co-driver were unhurt, but the safety cell on their Polo R WRC was damaged to such an extent that it could not be repaired on site within the three hours permitted by the regulations.
Day two was dominated by four special stages on the iconic “Panzerplatte” on the Baumholder military training ground – and the typical, remorseless boulders, which can soon cause significant damage to the rally cars.
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The crash happened about one kilometre after the start of stage eight. We were in sixth gear on a long straight. Then came a slight right-hand bend over a crest. The jump was further than expected, the rear kicked out upon landing and I lost control of the car. We then crashed into the barriers and came to a halt on an embankment with small trees. At that moment, the most important thing was when Julien and I realised that we were both okay. We were taken to hospital for routine check-ups, but came out of it unscathed. The Polo R WRC did not escape so lightly, as the crash was unfortunately rather severe and the roll cage was damaged slightly. This means we are not able to re-join the rally tomorrow, for safety reasons. The Polo cannot be repaired in time here in the service park.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am very happy. We came through today without any problems and extended our lead. The conditions were very difficult, as you were constantly switching between dry, damp and really wet sections. The stages on the ‘Panzerplatte’, with its hard, coarse surface and unforgiving boulders along the side of the route, were obviously particularly important. One of Sébastien Loeb’s great strengths at the Rally Germany was the intelligent way he looked after his tyres: if you make sure they do not get too hot, they will be your friend. If you overheat them, they will give you trouble. I tried to heed this advice, particularly on ‘Panzerplatte’, and it worked very well. We have a great opportunity to claim a very important win in our Polo tomorrow. I have a good feeling.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The Rally Germany is a genuine challenge, that is for sure. Dry roads alternated with wet conditions in the morning, and it was hard to predict what lay round the next corner. In the afternoon it rained more heavily, and puddles produced some aquaplaning. Then it dried out again. ‘Panzerplatte’, in particular, is anything but pleasant to drive in these unpredictable conditions. As such, I took a cautious approach – particularly as minor mistakes in the morning meant I had a big gap both in front of and behind me. We are still on course to achieve our goal of a top-five finish. However, we must remain fully focussed tomorrow if we are to bring this result home.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“It would appear that Jari-Matti Latvala is our expert when it comes to home events. Despite the huge expectations of the German fans, he did everything right today. Jari-Matti extended his lead where possible, and defended it intelligently when the conditions were particularly difficult. He is in a class of his own again, just as he was recently at his own home race in Finland. However, Sébastien Ogier’s second crash today showed just how quickly things can go wrong. The best news was that he and Julien Ingrassia emerged unscathed, despite the high speed, at which they skidded into the barriers. For safety reasons, Séb and Julien are unfortunately unable to start tomorrow. We cannot repair their car here on site in the time allowed. Despite this, we still have our sights set not only on victory at our home event, but also winning the World Championship title on home ground. We will have to do our homework again tomorrow. Given the top form that Jari-Matti Latvala and the entire Volkswagen team have shown, I am confident we can make this dream a reality.”
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