Sébastien OGIER, Julien INGRASSIA: 2013 World Rally Champions, thanks to their MICHELIN Total Performance package
While speed, consistency and reliability are the ingredients that have helped the Volkswagen Motorsport duo on the way to their first world crown, the performance, strength and longevity of the tyres provided to them by the French tyre manufacturer proved valuable allies in their bid to claim the ultimate prize.
The 2013 season has been an extraordinary human and technological adventure which culminated in this weekend‟s Rallye de France-Alsace which was won by the new world champions. From start to finish, they survived a treacherous cocktail of heavy rain and slippery stages, assisted by their soft-compound MICHELIN PILOT Sport S2 tyres which proved a match for the horrendous conditions and a level of grip frequently close to that of ice. They also enabled the drivers to showcase their car control even though the WRC regulations only permit 23 percent of the tyres‟ tread to be grooved
Sébastien OGIER and Julien INGRASSIA (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) took full advantage of the potential of their MICHELIN tyres and, after figuring in fourth place for much of the rally, the French duo finally took the top prize at the finish on Sunday afternoon. With the nine-time world champion Sébastien LOEB (Citroën DS3 WRC) out of the running following an „off‟ on SS15 („Vignoble de Cleebourg 1‟), the Volkswagen driver had a free reign for the last 42 kilometres of competitive action.
The 2013 Rallye de France-Alsace saw second place go to Dani SORDO and Carlos DEL BARRIO (Citroën DS3 WRC). The Spaniards were not eligible to score Manufacturers‟ championship points for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, but they kept up the pressure all the way to the finish, a little more than a month after the Spaniard‟s first world class victory on the 2013 ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
The French round of this year‟s FIA World Rally Championship was also an important fixture for Jari-Matti LATVALA and Miikka ANTTILA (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) who were third in Alsace. Indeed, the Finns‟ mission was to strengthen Volkswagen Motorsport‟s advantage in the Manufacturers‟ standings and their result helped the German make to extend its lead over its French rival.
Thanks to the victory of Sébastien OGIER and Julien INGRASSIA, MICHELIN has added to the eloquent record it has built up in world class rallying since 1973. The French company‟s score now stands at 261 WRC rally wins and 21 Drivers‟ titles, while this is the first Drivers‟ world crown for Volkswagen, coinciding with the first year of its collaboration with MICHELIN at the sport‟s highest level.
The 2013 World Champion praised the role his tyres have played since the beginning of the season: “I have been very happy with my MICHELIN tyres which have been both competitive and reliable on all the types of surface visited by the championship. For wet asphalt, however, I think the Fédération Internationale de l‟Automobile should authorise the use of proper wet weather tyres.”
MICHELIN Motorsport director Pascal COUASNON and Jacques MORELLI, the manager of the French firm‟s rally programmes, extended their congratulations to the Volkswagen Motorsport crew: “Congratulations to Sébastien OGIER and Julien INGRASSIA on behalf of the MICHELIN Group. They have produced a faultless run this season and we are proud to have played a part in their success. Bravo, too, to everyone at Volkswagen Motorsport. This is one of the world‟s most competitive motorsport disciplines, yet they succeeded in taking their crew to the top by providing them with a competitive and reliable car out of the box.
“This was the last outing for Sébastien LOEB and Daniel ELENA, and MICHELIN wanted to show its gratitude by presenting them with our own trophy. While the drivers need good tyres to help them win rallies, MICHELIN needs good drivers to help its tyres to progress. The contribution that the nine-time world champions have made on that front in the course of their career has been extremely valuable to us.”
Meanwhile, the Manufacturers‟ world championship has yet to be settled. Volkswagen Motorsport tops the provisional order on 342 points, followed by Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team (261 points) with two rounds remaining and 90 points still up for grabs.