The new season of the FIA World Rally Championship has just begun and gladly Volkswagen has recorded victory on the first weekend of the 2014 season. Credit goes to Volkswagen WRC team’s duo, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. Both the drivers produced irresistible fightback and outstanding driving securing the first place at the very start of the season.
With the victory at Monte Carlo, this is the duo’s 17th victory yet in WRC and their tenth with automobile giant Volkswagen. While team Volkswagen was at the top, second place went to Ford driver Bryan Bouffier, and third to Citroën’s Kris Meeke.
As always, the challenging ‘Monte’ track, also known as “The Unpredictable One”, offered enough difficulties to the drivers starting with extreme weather to tough road conditions. Team Volkswagen had three Polo R WRCs in the lineup all of which ended the classic in points, with Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula pickup up valuable points in the fifth and seventh place.
Again, this year’s Monte Carlo leg offered rain in the valleys and snow at altitudes, making it difficult for teams to cope with extreme weather conditions. Because of the bad weather, it was the tyre selection that mattered the most. Using the weather data available, Volkswagen drivers decided to go with tread-free slicks for the first three special stages of the “Monte”.
Shock came in when it started to snow, leaving the winning Volkswagen duo with much more challenges than they expected. Expectedly, because of the sudden snowfall, all Volkswagen duos including Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia lost a lot of time. This pushed the defending world champions back in ninth place. Fifth stage onwards, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia showed their skills and came in the top three consistently while winning the seven special stages.
But the winning duo were not the only interesting element at the classic, as team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila made a comeback not just once but twice. On Friday, the duo finished seventh from their previous 18th position, and battled back from eighth to fifth by the end of the final day. Latvala/Anttila were in the top three on eight of Monte’s special stages.
Andreas Mikkelsen with co-driver Mikko Markkula, drove cautiously across all 14 stages but lost a lot of time when their World Rally Car slid into a snow covered corner between Sisteron and Thoard, they were able to continue and record top times on the final day though. Andreas Mikkelsen was rewarded with six World Championship points.
On the Power Stage which offers six points to the top three finishers, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila received three extra points, while Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia got two bonus points.