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Back home with a score to settle – Volkswagen goes into the ninth race of the season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the Rally Germany, with hoping to improve considerably on last year’s result. World Champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), as well as Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) will roll across the starting ramp at Porta Nigra for Volkswagen in first, second and third place in the world championship.

At the brand’s home rally (21 – 24 August), the defending champion is leaving nothing to chance in the quest to wipe out the memory of the result twelve months ago. The Rally Germany of all rallies was the only WRC leg in 2013 in which no Volkswagen driver made it onto the podium. After that, however, the team from Wolfsburg did wonders for their self-confidence: they won all of the following twelve rallies. On top of this, the added incentive is also the possibility of securing the championship title in the manufacturers’ standings for Wolfsburg at the home rally on asphalt.

“We have a score to settle with the Rally Germany since last year, as missing out on the podium at our home event is not a nice memory to have,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “Winning in front of your home crowd is always special. No German automobile manufacturer has ever won the German round of the World Rally Championship. Volkswagen has the opportunity to be the first. We have proven this season that we are capable of winning in any conditions. We have an extremely successful World Rally Car in the Polo R WRC, the three best driver/co-driver pairings in the world at present, and a team that is highly motivated and works meticulously. We know our strengths – but we also know that you cannot take success for granted in sport. Particularly not in motorsport. As such, we will approach the Rally Germany with the same commitment, precision and focus as we have done the twelve victorious rallies leading up to this event, in order to finally give our fans in Germany a win to cheer about.”

First all-asphalt rally of the year – change and challenge

The character of the World Rally Championship changes dramatically with the Rally Germany. The calendar throws up an all-asphalt rally for the first time in the 2014 season. As such, the World Rally Cars will line up with a completely different rally set-up to the six previous gravel rallies. The set-ups for the asphalt and gravel versions of the Polo R WRC differ greatly, including the ground clearance, which is adjusted by exactly 95 millimetres. The grooved Michelin tyres typically used on gravel, on 15-inch wheels with 215-mm treads, are replaced with 18-inch wheels with 235-mm treads. The chassis is also adapted to the specific demands of driving on asphalt and is given a far more rigid set-up. Considerably larger brake discs and callipers are also fitted on the Polo R WRC, allowing extremely late braking. The Rally Germany represents the first direct comparison between the four manufacturers – Citroën, M-Sport Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen – in these conditions. The weather could also play a key role: the end of August could see extremely high temperatures soar above the 30-degree mark, but is also well capable of producing continuous heavy rainfall.

Match points for all three WRC titles – an added incentive

The German team is even more motivated by the possibility of being able to secure all three WRC titles. With 305 points in the manufacturers’ standings, Volkswagen are already 175 points ahead of their direct rivals Citroën. If they manage to keep the gap at at least 172 at the Rally Germany, just like last year Volkswagen will win the manufacturers’ world championship. The works duos could also secure the drivers’ and co-drivers’ standings at the Rally Germany. If WRC leader Sébastien Ogier manages to keep 112 points of his current 121 point advantage over Mads Østberg (N, Citroën), only one of the three Volkswagen drivers will finish as world champion.

A balance of new and tried and tested – the rally route

With classic stages such as “Drohntal”, “Grafschaft” and “Stein & Wein”, the Rally Germany is keeping with tradition in 2014. But it also has a modern twist: The new special stage “Waxweiler” close to the Belgian border will be a new challenge for the drivers. Without a doubt, the “Panzerplatte” stage is still the crème de la crème of the stages at the Rally Germany. Four special stages will be held on the military training area of Baumholder, which, with its unyielding menhirs, is extremely unforgiving. With the very short “Arena Panzerplatte” at just 3.03 kilometres, and the 42.51-kilometre version “Panzerplatte”, this special stage that is characteristic of the rally will ensure there is variety.

Driving style is key – absolute precision is required

Eleven of twelve WRC events in Germany have been won by French drivers in the past – Sébastien Loeb won ten, Sébastien Ogier won one, both of them were driving for Citroën. As well as the technical requirements of the set-up and basic configuration of the vehicle, it’s the driving style that is key to success on asphalt. In short: drifting is fatal. At the asphalt rallies the set-up of the World Rally Cars for achieving good special stage times is not all that popular. Sébastien Ogier who comes from the French school of rallying is regarded as the current master of this art. But Jari-Matti Latvala, who since switching to Volkswagen has changed his driving style to match the central European way of driving, is now also one of the best drivers on asphalt.

Secret summer wedding – Ogier and his “co-driver” Kaiser

Secret, quiet and low-key – all these adjectives describe the wedding of Sébastien Ogier and his girlfriend Andrea Kaiser. The World Champion and the German TV presenter said “I do” this summer, surrounded by close family and friends. Volkswagen wishes the two newlyweds all the best for their future together. With a new co-driver at his side – in his private life naturally – the Volkswagen driver with car number one on the Polo R WRC heads to the Rally Germany – where maybe he will have his next reason to celebrate.

VIPs at the home rally – Volkswagen welcomes famous guests in Trier

Volkswagen Motorsport will host well-known faces at the Rally Germany once again this year. Stratospheric jumper Felix Baumgartner, who visited Trier and the surroundings in 2013, doesn’t want to miss out on following the rally action from the Volkswagen hospitality area this year. Others who have signed up include rock legend Peter Maffay, windsurfing world champion Philip Köster, former swimming world champion Mark Warnecke and actor Axel Stein, who has experienced being a guest starter in the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup. Matthias Malmedie, presenter and co-inventor of the German TV show “GRIP – Das Motormagazin”, will also be there, as will Harald “Toni” Schumacher – the trip to Trier is just a short hop for the former goalkeeper of the German football team and vice president of 1. FC Köln.

Quotes ahead of the Rally Germany

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“We want to continue the success we have enjoyed so far this season at the Rally Germany. And it is also important to make amends for last year’s miserable result by winning this time around. We have already tested successfully on asphalt this year. This surface also suits the Polo R WRC, so we believe we will be very quick. We have a great chance to successfully defend our World Championship title in Germany, and are determined to take this opportunity. The entire team is under greater pressure at its home event than at other rallies, but that can also be an advantage, as you are generally more focussed under these circumstances. Whatever happens, the Rally Germany will not be a stroll in the park. The ‘Panzerplatte’ stage has proved the undoing of many drivers in the past, as it is so demanding and treacherous. We also have some real asphalt specialists in the field – including Thierry Neuville, who was in contention here last year. I believe Hyundai will be very strong. And I will also be keeping an eye on Kris Meeke. He was damn quick in Finland and is very good on asphalt.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Winning the Rally Finland was very special. The fans gave me incredible support – and to win on home soil is a unique feeling. I want to take that with me into the next rally – another home event, this time for Volkswagen. One of the greatest challenges at the Rally Germany is the weather: it can be very changeable. When it rains some of the sections become very wet and thus extremely slippery, while other parts of the route are relatively dry and can be taken at high speed. That makes driving and tyre selection quite tricky. I have no problem with the surface itself – I like asphalt rallies, and particularly the character of the route on the Rally Germany. I am looking forward to the ‘Panzerplatte’ more than anything else. Unfortunately I had a bad experience with the standing stones last year, when I hit a stone whilst leading the rally. I can obviously not allow that to happen to me again this year. My goal is to follow on from my success at the Rally Finland and challenge for the win again – however, a top-three finish would be great.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Unfortunately I was not able to take part in the Rally Germany last year. As we did complete the ‘Recce’, however, I was able to gain a good impression of the special stages and the surface. Ola and I ought to benefit from this experience this year. In 2012 I finished sixth in a Škoda, beating several more powerful World Rally Cars in the process, so I am quite confident. I am looking forward to finally contesting Volkswagen’s home rally in the Polo R WRC. It is particularly important for Volkswagen to get a good result at the Rally Germany. Everyone involved will be particularly focussed, and the interest in the media will be huge. The many fans on the route and in the service park will once again give us fantastic support. However, the rally will by no means be easy, as the opposition is strong and it will be a completely new ball game at the first asphalt rally of the year.”

Did you know that ...

... the Rally Germany has never been won by a German car manufacturer since it has been on the WRC calendar? With the exception of 2009, when the event around Trier was not part of the WRC calendar, all victories have gone to Citroën. Record world champion Sébastien Loeb won ten times and Sébastien Ogier and Dani Sordo each won once.

… the Rally Germany, since it has been on the WRC calendar, only took a “trip” to Cologne for the ceremonial start and awards ceremony in 2013? At Volkswagen’s first WRC home rally, the drivers, co-drivers and World Rally Cars were all presented on the southern part of the square near Cologne Cathedral, the “Roncalliplatz”. This year the Rally Germany returns to Germany’s oldest town, Trier, with the impressive backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Porta Nigra.

… the Volkswagen Group brand Audi was successful at the Rally Germany in 1984? Hannu Mikkola (FIN) and his German co-driver Christian Geistdörfer won the event that was not part of the WRC in an Audi Sport quattro.

… Volkswagen duo Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) had their best result at the Rally Germany in 2012? The two Finns finished the rally in second place in their Ford.

… Volkswagen test and development driver Dieter Depping won the Rally Germany a total of three times (1994, 1996 and 1997)? Until France’s Sébastien Loeb went on his winning streak, the German held the record for the most victories.

The number of the Rally Germany: 32

21 WRC starts for the Polo R WRC, 32 podium finishes – that is Volkswagen’s record going into the Rally Germany. The home rally around Trier of all rallies is the one with a zero next to it in the statistics for the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg. To date, one of the Volkswagen duos in the Polo R WRC has finished in first place 18 times, in second place nine times and in third place five times. Going into the ninth rally of the 2014 season and since the debut at the Rally Monte Carlo last year, the victory rate is 86 percent and the podium rate 54 percent.

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