Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen and MICHELIN Motorsport claim the 2015 WRC titles
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen and Michelin wrapped up three 2015 World Rally Championship titles today (Sunday) in Australia.
The 2015 Rally Australia saw Sébastien Ogier /Julien Ingrassia and their MICHELIN-equipped Volkswagen Polo R WRC secure the top prize to wrap up the WRC Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ crowns for the third year running.
Volkswagen Motorsport’s Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene came second and fourth overall in their Michelin-shod Polo R WRCs to sew up the Manufacturers’ title for the German make.
These titles add to MICHELIN Motorsport’s impressive record of championship successes in world class motorsport and reinforce its leading status in the fiercely-competitive WRC which permits open competition between tire companies (23 driver’s titles and 25 manufacturers’ titles).
A thrilling finale in New South Wales
Ogier / Ingrassia took the win in Australia after a close battle with Citroën DS3 WRC crews Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle who trailed by just three-tenths of a second ahead of the final day, with 13 of the event’s 17 tricky stages completed.
The Frenchman went on to win Sunday’s four tests, including the Power Stage, to reap the weekend’s three bonus points and make sure of the WRC title at the end of the tenth of the 2015 season’s thirteen rounds.
Success for the MICHELIN LTX Force H4/S4
Volkswagen Motorsport has won nine of the 10 rounds contested so far this year: seven with Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and two with Finns Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Antilla who also share a MICHELIN-equipped Polo R WRC.
The only rally to have escaped the German make this season was Argentina which was won by Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle whose Citroën DS3 WRC also runs on MICHELIN tires.
The result takes Ogier’s personal score to 31 WRC victories and puts him ahead of Marcus Grönholm (30 wins, 2 titles) since the world championship’s creation in 1973.
Said Michelin Motorsport director Pascal Couasnon: “Volkswagen has done a remarkable job since it came into the World Rally Championship. Congratulations to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia on winning the Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ titles, as well as to Volkswagen and its director Jost Capito on winning not only the Manufacturers’ crown but also Rally Australia, of course!”
A hard event marked by judicious tire strategies
Light rain fell ahead of the Coates Hire Rally Australia which featured a menu of 17 stages totalling 311.36km. On Friday, however, crews were treated to dry conditions and temperatures in excess of 20°C which soon caused the lingering humidity to evaporate. Indeed, dust emerged as a major problem for competitors and, on Saturday, the gap between cars was extended from the usual two minutes to five minutes in order to give the hanging dust additional time to clear. Some drivers said that even a five-minute gap was insufficient…
The sun itself added an extra challenge as it strobed through the trees at a difficult angle at certain moments of the day. Last but by no means least, the drivers had to contend with continuously varying grip levels as the surface switched from sand to gravel, and even several asphalt portions. This variety made the choice between the hard-compound Michelin LTX Force H4 and the softer S4 option particularly difficult.
Said Jacques Morelli, manager of MICHELIN Motorsport’s FIA World Rally Championship programme: “The Coates Hire Rally Australia is one of the rounds of the world championship where tyre choice can be the most decisive. The hard-compound Michelin LTX Force H4 was the nominated tyre for this event, but drivers also had the option of fitting the softer S4 – either at all four corners of their car, or on two wheels only, along with two H4s – in order to increase performance on the least abrasive stages. Getting the tyre call right paid dividends, and Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were among those who succeeded. I would like to extend my personal congratulations to them both, not only on their win in Australia but also on winning this year’s Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ world titles. A big ‘bravo’, too, to everyone at Volkswagen Motorsport for winning the Manufacturers’ championship. Their professionalism has helped to forge a quality partnership between the team and the staff at Michelin Motorsport.
Victory for Nasser Al Attiyah and Michelin in WRC2
Only two of the six cars entered in the WRC2 class in Australia were on MICHELIN tires. Nasser Al Attiyah and his co-driver Matthieu Baumel pulled out a big early lead to win the Coates Hire Rally Australia despite a differential issue that cost them almost 40 seconds on Day 2 (Saturday).
Their Ford Fiesta RRC was equipped with the new MICHELIN LATITUDE Cross H90 (hard compound) and S80 (soft) tires which have gone unbeaten since their introduction in Poland in July, despite the highly competitive nature of the class where Michelin runners form a minority.
This week, the three-time world champion Sébastien Ogier will be a guest on Michelin’s stand at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) at 3pm on Tuesday, September 15 (Stand A23, Hall 8).
The next round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship will take teams to Corsica for the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse (October 1-4).