If you're a fan of the World Rally Championship (WRC), arguably the most grueling motorsports series in existence, you'd probably know that for a long time the pairing of Sebastien Loeb and Citroen were unstoppable. Before he conquered Pikes Peak, the Frenchman racked up a dizzying nine straight driver championships, and the automaker supporting him in the WRC would've cornered the manufacturer titles during those years, too, were it not for a resurgent Ford that eked out championships in 2006 and 2007.
Since Loeb retired in 2013, though, it's been a different Sebastien and different works squad at the top of the WRC standings. Sebastien Ogier won it all for Volkswagen in '13, and did the same last year. Today we learned he'll be back to defend his title in 2015, along with a simpler, lighter and stronger version of the VW Polo R WRC.
Dubbed the second generation of the AWD, 1.6-liter turbo racer, the super-mini rally car debuted at VW HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany with some new upgrades and a new look. Putting down a purported 318 horsepower, performance improvements include reworked aero as well as a hydraulically activated gearbox, which is operated via a shift paddle on the steering column (further vehicle specs to come next week). Ogier will be rejoined by co-pilot Julien Ingrassia, and the driver duos of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, and Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene, will also be back with Volkswagen for 2015.
As far as competition, the likes of Citroen (DS3), Ford (Fiesta RS) and Hyundai (i20) will all be fielding works teams. The action starts January 22, when the World Rally Championship kicks off its 2015 campaign with Rally Monte Carlo along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco.