Volkswagen’s racing team won the first race of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) this year after achieving victory in the Rally Sweden. The 315-hp Polo R WRC driven by Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – both from France -- cruised the team to capture its first win right on its first race in the FIA WRC.
The team managed to grab victory even after facing stiff challenges from strong drivers like nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb of Citroën. By posting 11 best times from 22 special stages, Ogier and Ingrassia were able to lead the overall standings right from the start, maintaining their pace until the finish on Sunday afternoon.
They braved through Scandinavian ice and snow and managed to secure victory in the end. Ogier set the pace for Volkswagen during the qualification round Thursday, when he clocked the fastest time. Loeb, on the other hand, was seven places behind Ogier. Loeb eventually finished Rally Sweden 41.8 seconds behind Ogier.
Volkswagen also grabbed a fourth place finish in the rally, with Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, both from Finland, a great finish behind the wheel of their own Polo R WRC unit. Sébastien Ogier and Volkswagen's wins at the Rally Sweden are bound to make their marks in FIA WRC’s history books, as Ogier's eighth rally victory success is only the second by a central European at the Rally Sweden since 1950.
Up until now, Rally Sweden had been won almost exclusively by Nordic drivers. Ogier joins Loeb as only the second winner of the Rally Sweden to come from outside of Sweden, Norway and Finland. Loeb was the first one to break the series of successes of Nordic drivers when he won the event in 2004.
“That is an indescribable feeling! We were screaming with joy in the car. It is simply incredible to claim the first victory for Volkswagen and the team at only our second rally. This is probably the greatest moment of my career. The Polo R WRC was perfect the entire time. The guys did a fantastic job of preparing the car. So much can happen in Sweden. The conditions in the snow are so difficult – winning here, as only the second central European and ahead of the best rally driver of all time, makes me enormously proud. We had to give 100 per cent, right down to the final day, because Sébastien Loeb was really going for it right through to the finish. I feared that he would make up more time this morning, particularly on the opening ‘Mitandersfors’ stage. However, that was not the case. Now I am just overjoyed.” said Sébastien Ogier.