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Volkswagen’s mission to successfully defend its titles in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is officially underway. Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, and Volkswagen Board Member for Technical Development, Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, sent the Volkswagen Motorsport team on its way towards the Rally Monte Carlo, which forms the opening leg of the WRC season from 14 to 19 January.

In a symbolic gesture, the 315-hp Polo R WRC rolled over the start ramp in front of the main Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg. Prof. Dr. Winterkorn was there in person to wave the starting flag as the team departed for the first of the World Championship’s 13 rounds on four different continents.

The 2014 World Rally Championship kicks off with the legendary Rally Monte Carlo – and thus with an absolute classic. As defending champion in the Driver and Co-Driver classification for Volkswagen, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) line up with start number 1. Together with team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN, start number 2), they are charged with defending the Manufacturers’ title won by Volkswagen last year. They will be ably assisted by the third works duo of Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) in Polo R WRC #9.

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director, said: “It goes without saying that preparations for the WRC season started well before today. We are as well prepared as possible for the Rally Monte Carlo and have further developed many details on the Polo R WRC. We are now looking forward to facing new challenges in the competition.

"This season’s World Rally Championship offers many new aspects, which will make the project to defend our titles demanding. We have a new opponent in Hyundai, while Ford and Citroën have new driving line-ups this season. In Poland, a country full of rally enthusiasts returns to the WRC calendar. We are looking forward to pitting our wits against them.

"Today’s launch sees the anticipation within the team step up another notch. Everyone is looking forward to doing their best. It was thanks to our extraordinary team spirit that we achieved such great things in 2013. Bring on 2014.”

Volkswagen works driver and defending WRC champion in the Drivers’ Championship, Sébastien Ogier, said: “There are only 61 days between the final special stage of last season and the first of the coming Rally Monte Carlo. No other world championship has such a short break. Testing and preparations have been running at full throttle since November, and we are well prepared to start the new season as defending champions.

"Today’s event was symbolic – starting out from Wolfsburg shows that the entire company is behind us. As far as I, my co-driver Julien Ingrassia and our team are concerned, we are ready for the 2014 World Rally Championship.”


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