WRC: Rain and Adverse Weather make for Dramatic Shakedown in Corsica

  • Slippery conditions on prelude to round eleven of the World Rally Championship
  • Torrential rain and a “medicane” forecast for the coming days
  • Latvala third with the Polo R WRC on Shakedown, Ogier fourth, Mikkelsen ninth

Wolfsburg. Sharpening the senses ahead of a genuine challenge: the Volkswagen drivers used the Shakedown ahead of the Rally France to prepare for the tricky conditions expected over the coming days. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were third fastest over the 3.88-kilometre stage used for the “free practice” ahead of round eleven of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Their Volkswagen team-mates, reigning world champions and champions elect* Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), ended the Shakedown in fourth and ninth place respectively. The Shakedown provided the competitors with a taste of things to come over the coming days.

The weather experts are expecting torrential rainfall on Thursday evening and Friday, with up to 300 litres per square metre anticipated. And possibly a “medicane” – a rare weather phenomenon, similar to a hurricane, which forms over the Mediterranean. The Shakedown was held on a wet surface, on which grip levels changed constantly. All the Volkswagen duos completed five runs, in order to prepare meticulously for the rally on Corsica.

The Rally France starts on Friday with the first three of just nine special stages, at an average of about 37 kilometres per stage. First up, on Thursday evening, is the ceremonial start to this iconic event in Ajaccio, in the southwest of the island.

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.

Quotes after the Shakedown at the Rally France

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I have fond memories of Corsica from my early days of rallying. I drove the course car here in 2007, then secured the title in the Junior WRC on this island in 2008. That opened the door to the top class, the WRC, for Julien and me. Tor return now as world champions is a very special feeling. However, it is going to be an extremely difficult rally – particularly given the weather forecast. We are expecting heavy rainfall on Friday, with a lot of standing water on the asphalt. It will be even more important than usual not to make any mistakes. The ‘Tour de Corse’ is very unforgiving. If you don’t stay on the right line here, your rally can be over in a flash. The Shakedown went well. We tried a few more set-up variants than we would otherwise do, as we were not able to test last week.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“We took full advantage of the time available to us on the Shakedown and tried out various set-ups. It was very slippery on the wet asphalt – nothing like it was during our test, when we had glorious sunshine. In the end, I am happy with the result. We are expecting very unsettled conditions all weekend, so you have to try to find a good rhythm. We will not attack from the word go, as the risk of making a costly mistake is just too great. However, we will obviously do our very best.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The Rally France here on Corsica is a completely new event for the Polo R WRC. And although I have I have contested the rally twice in the WRC and twice in the IRC, my experience amounts to about ten kilometres against the clock – and they were in the opposite direction to what we will be driving this weekend. On top of that, we must cope with the weather, as the forecast is not particularly good. As such, the priority for the Shakedown was to get a good feel for the handling after switching from the Australian gravel to the Corsican asphalt, and to find a good set-up for the Polo. I think we did that. We have a very tiring rally ahead of us – with corners, corners and more corners. There are basically no straights, so we hardly have any time to catch a breather. However, we are ready for it.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“We are in for a challenging Rally France. The weather experts are expecting heavy and persistent rain here on Corsica. Our drivers and everyone in the team must be fully alert. Our drivers used the Shakedown to get used to the wet surface and resulting lack of grip. We tested a lot of set-up variants – we will see tomorrow whether we found the right ones. Our goal remains to follow up the title wins in Australia with more positive results for Volkswagen – preferably with a win, of course. All three of our drivers are well capable of achieving that. However, anything is possible at this rally, particularly in these conditions.”

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC),
Rally France – TV broadcast
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