Last year there wasn't a soul or team that could touch the dominating Citroën and Loeb combination. This year, right out of the gate, Volkswagens new Polo R WRC stole some thunder from the nine-time WRC Champion.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have won the Rally Sweden at the wheel of the Polo R WRC. In doing so, Volkswagen has already far exceeded its own expectations of what is the team's debut season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). In only its second competitive outing, the 315-hp World Rally Car from Wolfsburg emerged triumphant on the Scandinavian ice and snow.
Eleven best times from 22 special stages - Ogier and Ingrassia led the overall standings right from the word go, and refused to be shifted from the top spot until they reached the finish on Sunday afternoon. Ogier set the foundation for the success in qualification on Thursday, when he clocked the fastest time to finish seven places ahead of the multiple world champion.
Loeb eventually ended the rally 41.8 seconds behind his fellow Frenchman. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) finished fourth in the second Polo R WRC to complete an outstanding team result for Volkswagen.
A special win: Sébastien Ogier's eighth victory in the World Rally Championship
Sébastien Ogier and Volkswagen's win at the Rally Sweden will take a special place in the history books of the FIA World Rally Ogier's eighth success is only the second by a central European at the Rally Sweden since 1950. Up until now, the event had been won almost exclusively by Nordic drivers. Sébastien Ogier joins multiple world champion Sébastien Loeb as only the second winner of the "Sweden" to come from outside of Sweden, Norway and Finland. Loeb was the first to break the Nordic countries' stranglehold in 2004.
Ice, snow and cold - extreme weather, unique conditions The Rally Sweden is one of a kind on the calendar of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). It is the only rally held exclusively on ice and snow.
The teams use special Michelin "Sweden studs" and the winter specs for the World Rally Cars at the Rally Sweden, as well as special Castrol oils for the engine, gearbox and differentials. The Polo R WRC was surprisingly strong in the extraordinary conditions in Sweden: in total, the car picked up 28 top-three results over the course of the 22 special stages.
Ogier takes over at the top of the World Rally Championship
Sébastien Ogier won the so-called Power Stage, which is making its first appearance this season, to move ahead in the overall WRC standings. Extra World Championship points are up for grabs for the drivers finishing first, second and third. Ogier now leads the Drivers' Championship, three points ahead of Loeb.
The next round of the World Rally Championship takes place from 7th to 10th March in Mexico, with the rally centered around León.