Multiple world champion Sebastian Loeb of Citroen may have grabbed another win at the opening round of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship at Monte Carlo, but it was Sébastien Ogier and the all-new VW Polo WRC that made the biggest impression.
The 29-year-old French rally driver managed to lead the Polo R WRC in its first competitive outing to second place. The third place on the podium went to Dani Sordo, who returned to Citroen after two seasons with MINI, which pulled out of the championship at the end of last year.
After the race, Ex Ford SVT boss Jost Capito who is now Volkswagen Motorsport Director commented:
"Second place in the first rally of the new Polo R WRC is more than we could have expected. The Rally Monte Carlo is the most complex event in the calendar and the team has here shown that they are ready for the World Rally Championship."
"There was no mistake, not the slightest problem. One cannot value the performance of Sébastien Ogier highly enough. He drove the ‘Monte’ in a World Rally Car for the first time. There is no other rally in which the driver’s impact on the result is bigger. That is why we will not see where we stand with the Polo R WRC until after the upcoming event," he added.
VW Team driver Sébastien Ogier said: "I never was as happy about a second place as I was today. To reach the podium in our debut with the Polo R WRC is just great. These were probably the most difficult conditions in a Rally Monte Carlo I have ever experienced. Especially today, during the first run to the Col de Turini, it was extremely slippery, so that speeds of more than 20 kph were not possible. It was just about keeping the car on the road."
The German brand's second driver Jari-Matti Latvala abandoned the race after crashing out in the opening kilometer of the stage.
"I am very disappointed," said Latvala. "There was more wet snow in the first run through the Col de Turini stage than I expected. I was too fast right in the beginning, the car did not turn as expected, and I crashed heavily. Another car had slipped there before I did and I hit the same lane. There was nothing I could do. It was my goal to gather lots of experience with the Polo R WRC. It is bitter to end the rally this way. I am sorry for the guys because they prepared the cars brilliantly. I really wanted to give them a points result."