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in the land of 1,000 jumps.

Speeds of up to 124 mph in the bends, jumps of up to 50 metres – Rally Finland qualifies as the most thrilling highlight of the World Rally Championship. The three Volkswagen drivers tell us what particularly appeals to them about this race and what they learned in Lapland this season.

Volkswagen in championship form.

What a season! The Volkswagen team won their second World Rally Championship (WRC) constructors’ title – and had achieved it by the end of Rally Australia, the fourth-to-last race of the year! The crowning event Down Under went perfectly as Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen also celebrated a 1-2-3 in the drivers’ standings. It was the first threefold victory for Volkswagen in the history of the World Rally Championship.
It’s quite clear that the World Champion driver duo will be the Volkswagen team in 2014 as well. Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia took the title for themselves with their victory at Rally Spain the old world champions have been crowned the new world champions*. After their seventh victory of the season, the 23rd of their career, the French duo cannot be caught in the overall standings of the FIA World Rally Championship. Not even by their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), who with second place in Spain clinched the tenth one-two victory for Volkswagen in the WRC and staged a thrilling battle with their team-mates for the rally win.

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.

Historic moment: the three Volkswagen driving teams celebrate their first sweep of the top three placements with Motorsport boss Jost Capito (centre).

Rally finland.

Land of 1,000 lakes

1,009 miles

TOTAL

224 miles

SPECIAL STAGES

MIN. / MAX. (above sea level)

80,16 metres

221,59 metres

ROAD SURFACE

ASPHALT

GRAVEL

DIFFICULTY

SPEED

Sébastien Ogier.

„The gently rounded curves and the countless crests are loads of fun. If the gear ratios were not relatively low, then the cars would certainly reach more than 124 mph in many spots – but the engine speed limiter won’t let that happen. The large number of jumps is much harder on my co-driver Julien Ingrassia than on me. He is seated much lower and can hardly see anything. Moreover, he occasionally has to read the notes aloud while still in the air, which is why the landing can really take him by surprise. If the car is flying straight and comes down on all four wheels simultaneously or on the rear tyres first, you often barely feel the landing. However, if the WRC Polo is tilted and comes down on a front wheel first, then you are pressed into the seat by a centrifugal force of four to five Gs. Here Julien has to reckon with his breath being briefly knocked out of him.

So, for critical jumps, Julien will read me the next note before the landing. However, I have to make sure I keep my foot on the accelerator during the jump. That reduces the load on the drive shafts upon landing, as they are rotating more or less at the appropriate speed. In contrast, wheels that are turning slowly at a speed of 105 mph would exert huge gravitational force on the drive shafts. As I said before: Rally Finland is enormous fun – perhaps the most fun across all rally sports, but you also have to be vigilant at all times.”

 

Sébastien Ogier

» The large number of jumps is much harder on my co-driver than on me. «

Sébastien Ogier

Jari-Matti Latvala.

» If you are flying through the air over a 50-metre distance, you really have to think about the landing before you even take off. «

Jari-Matti Latvala

„Rally Finland used to mean non-stop bouncing around for drivers. In the 1980s and 1990s the cars made a whole series of smaller jumps after each big one. It was a constant “Oof, boing, boing, boing”. It’s very different with the Polo R WRC 2014. Even after the longest jumps, no rebounding occurs. All four wheels are stuck fast to the ground, steering corrections are hardly necessary. While drivers used to have their hands full just keeping their car on the road, today they go into full acceleration directly upon landing. The Polo R WRC’s chassis is so good that, with one or two exceptions, all crests can be taken at full speed.
To me as a Finn, this rally is naturally the highlight of the season, but even putting patriotic pride aside, it’s simply extraordinary.

“Land of 1,000 Lakes” is a nickname for my native country. During the rally it seems to be more like “Land of 1,000 Jumps”. This year, Rally Finland gave me perhaps the happiest moment of my career – winning on home turf in front of a crowd of fellow Finns, a mere 3.6 seconds in front of my team mate Sébastien Ogier, and to do it in a total of just three hours’ driving time. It was the closest finish in years.
If you are flying through the air over a 50-metre distance, you really have to think about the landing before you even take off. You can’t steer a rally car in the air. On my native country’s, mostly sandy, insanely fast roads, it’s especially important to find the ideal line in order to lift off optimally and to be able to come back down at exactly the right spot. By the way, that also applies to the many fast curves without crests. My favourite special stage is called Mökkiperä. Here you are driving up and down hills full throttle at up to 121mph. It can sometimes make you feel a bit queasy.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala

Andreas Mikkelsen.

» The total flight time in the Ouninpohja is around 30 seconds. «

Andreas Mikkelsen

“Jumps are the icing on the rally cake, and it is hard to imagine anything that pumps up the fans more. At Rally Germany, they christened a double crest “Gina”, in Sweden the 45-metre ramp “Colin’s Crest” serves as homage to the great champion Colin McRae. Then there is “Micky’s Jump” in Sardinia and “El Brinco”, located during the stage of the same name at Rally in Mexico. Finland was and is, of course, the jewel in the crown. The legendary special stage Ouninpohja alone contains around 170 jumps, so we fly 50 metres once in a while, and sometimes tear through Central Finland at up to 124mph. The total flight time in this special stage is around 30 seconds, and what’s known as the “Yellow House Jump”, after a nearby wooden house, draws thousands of spectators annually. This year the most famous jump section was eliminated from the rally course, and the final 9.35 miles of the Ouninpohja were integrated into the 12.74 mile Kakaristo special stage instead. In any case, there was and will be more frequent and faster jumping than anywhere else. What could be better for rally sport than that?”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen