Published on July 23rd, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Time for Lift-Off! Volkswagen Drivers in Top Form Ahead of the Rally Finland
The next event on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar, from 28 to 31 July, is the fastest rally of the season. Following the rally in Poland, the race in Finland forms the second of two back-to-back high-speed rallies. Each of the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer’s three works duos – Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger – has one at least one of these full-throttle rallies at some point in the past three years.
The result is that the Polo R WRC is undefeated in both Poland and Finland. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila have contributed to this impressive record with victories at their home race in Finland in both 2014 and 2015. The goal is to complete the hat-trick in 2016. To do so, they must first complete a total of 333.60 kilometres flat-out against the clock, spread over 24 special stages on firm, almost asphalt-like gravel.
“Over 70 jumps and more than 30 seconds in the air – these are the figures from just one single stage at the Rally Finland, the infamous ‘Ouninpohja’,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The drivers and co-drivers must be both accurate and intelligent to master this unique challenge. The role of the driver is more important in Finland than at pretty much every other rally.
Drift, jump, full-throttle, … repeat – the feature of the Rally Finland
In 2015, the Rally Finland went down as the fastest WRC rally of all time. An average speed of 125.44 km/h – no other driver/co-driver pairing had ever been as quick as Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila before. Nor had the closing Power Stage ever experienced such speed: a remarkable average of 135.25 km/h was also a new record – courtesy of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.
The high tempo, which has earned the Rally Finland the nickname “Formula 1 in the Forest”, requires the drivers to be as accurate as possible. However, this nickname is misleading in one sense: while the angle of drift in Formula racing never usually reaches more than four degrees, angles of between ten and 15 degrees are part and parcel of an average day’s rallying. As such, it is important to position a world rally car as precisely as possible before any jump.
Championship leader, for the 30th time in a row: Ogier goes into second half of season with comfortable lead
Top dog since March 2014 and 30 WRC rallies in a row as championship leader – Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia lead the world championship going into the second half of the season, 51 points clear of their closest rivals Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger. 25 points are up for grabs for a win, with a further three points available for the fastest car on the Power Stage.
Full-throttle, within reason – engine speed restricted to 8,500 rpm
The regulations of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) stipulate that the 1.6-litre turbo engines in the world rally cars must not exceed a speed of 8,500 rpm. This is a crucial factor at the Rally Finland. Only those who get as close as possible to this limit on the long, flat-out sections – without exceeding it – will get the best out of their car. Should they exceed this limit, the fuel injection must be electronically deactivated. Here is the crunch: when the world rally cars go airborne over the countless jumps, the lack of resistance means that the engine speed does rise above the magic number, and the fuel injection cuts out. However, the optimum speed should be restored before the car lands, in order not to lose any drive or time.