This finale is one that Volkswagen will thoroughly enjoy: the Rally Great Britain in Wales. Despite having won all the competitions in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), however, Volkswagen will not be taking its foot off the pedal and lines up at the final round of the WRC Season from 14 to 17 November with no less motivation than the team has shown all year. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) travel to Wales determined to head into the World Rally Championship’s winter break on the back of another strong team performance. The 2014 season gets underway as early as mid-January with the iconic Rally Monte Carlo.
However, before the rally classic in the French Maritime Alps, the World Champions from Wolfsburg must first face an equally iconic and challenging rally, held primarily on the slippery gravel roads winding through the Welsh forests. Unlike in recent WRC history, this year’s rally will be based back in North Wales. This move also heralds the return of a number of popular special stages. None of the current crop of WRC drivers can call on any experience of stages such as “Gwydyr”, “Penmachno”, “Clocaenog” and “Penllyn”, which last featured as part of the British leg of the World Rally Championship back in the nineties.
“The Rally Great Britain is a prestigious round of the World Championship, which every one of the drivers wants to win,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The conditions are unlike any of the other WRC rallies and pose a whole host of challenges. We have won nine of the twelve rallies so far, and would love to use that momentum to take a tenth winner’s trophy back to Wolfsburg with us. Every single member of the team is up for the Rally Great Britain, and looking forward to a successful end to the season, without the added pressure of battling for the World Championship.”
Over 32 kilometres long and a true classic: “Hafren”. The route starts out in the town of Hafren and initially heads uphill through thick forest. The trees are often shrouded in mist for long periods and the route becomes greasy and slippery when it rains. The middle section of the special stage is faster, with long corners winding their way through grass and moorland. Another rally icon is the “Sweet Lamb” special stage. Water crossing, jump, hairpin – and all within a section of no more than 500 metres. The spectator zones offer great views of almost the entire area, which is usually used for rally driving courses. This provides a great opportunity to compare the different driving styles on show.