VW orders drivers to bow out of WRC with Rally Australia win

Volkswagen team principal Sven Smeets has told his drivers to win Rally Australia and end the firm's time in the World Rally Championship on a high

VW orders drivers to bow out of WRC with Rally Australia win

After four utterly dominant years, VW will depart the WRC at the end of this week's Coffs Harbour event.

Team principal Sven Smeets said the squad was trying to put emotion aside.

"There's only one directive to the drivers and that's to win this one," he told Autosport.

"Of course I had to tell them there can only be one winner, but yes, the objective is to win it and go out on a high.

"That's nothing special though, that was our target on every event.

"It is emotional here, but we are focused on what we are doing."

Sebastien Ogier followed those instructions at Thursday morning's shakedown stage and was fastest ahead of team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.

But Ogier admits that running first on the road initially gives him little hope of equalling Juha Kankkunen's tally of four wins in Australia.

The rally's move to a late spring date has meant drier, hotter weather, making the New South Wales gravel roads looser than ever.

"It's going to be really difficult," Ogier told Autosport.

"You know I'm going to tell you that - but you can see from the confirmation we got at shakedown this morning. It's getting quicker all the time.

"There will be an incredible cleaning effect. We have calculated that every car that passes [behind Ogier] is getting 0.2 seconds per kilometre faster than us.

"It's similar to Sardinia, which means it's pretty much the worst we will see this season.

"It will be no surprise that it's going to be pretty impossible for me, but we will try."

Mikkelsen believes VW's other driver Jari-Matti Latvala will be a strong favourite.

The Finn starts from sixth on the road, three cars behind Mikkelsen.

"I think Jari-Matti has this one in the bag," said Mikkelsen, who will start Australia hoping to reclaim second place in the championship standings from Thierry Neuville.

"Winning this rally is not going to be easy from where we are on the road.

"But we are one car behind Thierry and he's the target in the championship. He's 14 points ahead of us and we need those back."

DMACK Ford driver Ott Tanak was first non-VW at shakedown, 0.7s down on Mikkelsen and 0.8s off Ogier's benchmark.

Tanak starts eighth on the road and knows his position is probably the best of the leading World Rally Cars.

"Road cleaning will give us a big benefit and we have to use it," said the Estonian.

Asked if he thought his DMACK tyres would cope with the heat, hard surface and long stages, he replied: "They're as black and as round as the others. Why not?"

shares
comments
Sebastien Ogier to test for potential 2017 WRC teams next week
Previous article

Sebastien Ogier to test for potential 2017 WRC teams next week

Next article

WRC Rally Australia: Andreas Mikkelsen takes early lead for VW

WRC Rally Australia: Andreas Mikkelsen takes early lead for VW
Load comments
How Monte masters stole the show as WRC's hybrid era blasted off Plus

How Monte masters stole the show as WRC's hybrid era blasted off

The new Rally1 hybrid cars made their competition debuts in Monte Carlo, but it was two semi-retired drivers who took centre stage in a thrilling battle between two of the World Rally Championship's most successful names. Here's how Sebastien Loeb completed a remarkable return on his M-Sport debut by beating reigning champion Sebastien Ogier

WRC
11 h
The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022 Plus

The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022

Eight-time World Rally Championship king Sebastien Ogier has abdicated (well, gone part-time) in 2022, meaning for just the second time in the past decade we will have a different champion this year. Autosport picks out the drivers gunning to take his place and take over the mantle as the WRC's new ruler

WRC
Jan 20, 2022
The 'Cumbrian Maranello' where Ford's WRC giants are born Plus

The 'Cumbrian Maranello' where Ford's WRC giants are born

M-Sport is changing the game as a World Rally Championship powerhouse, inspired by Ferrari's legendary Formula 1 base. Autosport was afforded a behind-the-scenes look at its new headquarters, the result of a vision that has taken three decades to be realised, where its new Rally1 Puma took shape

WRC
Jan 19, 2022
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Plus

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

WRC
Jan 18, 2022
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Plus

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. Autosport picks out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Plus

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against team-mate Elfyn Evans

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Plus

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021