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GP Week : Issue 165
RALLY >>> FEATURE One year after the new generation VW Motorsport programme was first seen in active competition, the team were back again in Finland and then immediately in Germany. As usual they entered one trainee driver, again Andreas Mikkelsen, and their confirmed WRC team driver Sebastien Ogier, both at the wheel of Skoda Fabia S2000 cars. The learning process of the team as they prepare for the launch of the VW World Rally Championship challenge in 2013 is now considerably enhanced with Ogier able to identify the current performance levels of the WRC prototypes through his regular appearance on the WRC events this year. The recently introduced Motorsport director Jost Capito (right, above) was present with Sebastien Ogier (left) to tell us how they view their prospects for 2013: JC: The main thing about the past year has been the continual learning process for the team. The current team has not been active in the WRC before. The rally processes and the WRC events are completely new for our current team so it was important to learn all that you can do according to the regulations. To learn the process, to get the logistics right. What you do in service, how you organise the service, how everything has to be prepared. The Polo R WRC itself has now been running for around 10 months. Nothing has come up with the new car which has needed a complete redesign. The car is not revolutionary, there is no room in the regulations for revolution these days. So building a solid car is the way to go. All the tests have shown that the car is now very reliable, and that allows us to focus more on improving performance. How does the Polo R WRC compare at this time with the Citroen and the Ford? JC: Through the work of Sebastien in the Skoda S2000 we know how we compare and where we are still lacking. We have the chance to compare the times of the Skoda on actual WRC stages during the rallies compared with the current WRC cars and then use the Skoda for back-to-back checks in our own WRC test work. We can accurately calculate the difference between the Polo R WRC and the existing WRC cars. There is still a lot of work to do. We are now trying to get the car to the speed it needs, but we are not there yet. Sebastien has had an incredible year so far, with eight events and seven times finishing the top non-World Rally Car. JC: Sebastien has been doing, as expected, a fantastic job. His big accident in Monte Carlo can always happen, so that was not a setback. He is very fast, and the times he does with the Super 2000 compared with the WRC cars are outstanding. He has had outstanding results and he is also doing an outstanding job on the tests. I think he is very hungry. He is very much looking for ward to next year and the WRC. He doesn’t see this year as a missed year in career terms. He enjoys the chance coming from zero with a new team. It is 'his' team, it is 'his' car and if it will all be successful it will be extraordinary for him. Much better than going to an existing team and jumping into an already successful car. He understands that situation and appreciates that. He bonds the team together very well. Sebastien, you seem relaxed with the project your have been given for 2012. Is this right? SO: Our progress this year has given me a lot of experience of the stages and the rallies, and for a rally like Finland, you really need experience to be fast Sure we are slower than the WRC cars but the Fabia S2000 is a good fast car and I am sure this experience will help me next year. This year has also been a good experience for the team. They need to learn how to do the service and how to work very quickly, how to react in an emergency situation. It is good for them to be here. We can see that they are getting more and more confident. What are the main differences between competing in a World Rally Car and a Super 2000? SO: Obviously it is not the same in the S2000 because you are not fighting for victory, and I am usually just fighting against the other car in the team. I have already had some good fights with Andreas (Mikkelsen) who is also a very good driver. In terms of driving the cars I think he and I are surprisingly quite similar. When you are driving a S2000 you cannot maintain the same momentum through to the end of the corners, so it is very important to carry the speed all the time. In terms of suspension set-ups we can see it is quite similar to WRC. In Finland I noticed the difference between the WRC and the S2000 because of the speed over the jumps, maybe because the S2000 does not have the special big rear wing. Without the big rear wings on the Super 2000 this car tends to be more ner vous, it can be a bit more tricky, maybe a bit more difficult to drive because it is less stable. Jari-Matti on home ground in 2011 43 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: