“No one has come close to VW’S stats”
Where did those four years go? Hannover, of course.
Hard as it is to believe, Volkswagen’s four-year stay as a World Rally Championship force is at an end. Past Sunday, the Polo R WRC will be confined to history. The fast has-been in the sport’s history.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve written more than the odd word about our champions. This week? How about some numbers to go with them?
Try 986. That’s the number of days Sebastien Ogier has led the drivers’ championship for successively. That’s impressive. But not quite as good as Volkswagen itself: the German firm has been out front in the makes’ race for a cool 1,346 days.
In case you were wondering, nobody’s even come close to those numbers before.
Nor has anybody managed 85 podium results and 42 wins from 51 rallies contested. And not once has any team won 12 rallies in one season. Volkswagen hasn’t either; it’s done it twice.
And, don’t forget, it has also won 12 rallies back-to-back. Twice. Each time, the perfect 13 just escaped them. It’s almost a relief, isn’t it!
By the time it’s done the Polo R WRC will have contested 958 special stages in the last four years. It hasn’t done badly: before turning a wheel in New South Wales, at least one Polo has been in the top three 1,524 times. All three have been in the top three 104 times. That’s almost one in every nine stages contested. That’s just unreasonable.
You want more? OK, how about the powerstage? Fifty starts, 38 wins. So far. Number 39 on Sunday? Wait and see. Talking about Sunday, will that mean a 20th VW 1-2 in four years or maybe a fifth podium lock-out?
Enough. We get it: Volkswagen’s got the WRC sussed. With the new rules coming for next season, it’s unlikely the world championship will be dominated in such fashion again by a single manufacturer. And, as much as we must stand back and admire what Volkswagen has achieved, a good few might well be breathing a sigh of relief.
Me? I’m not one of them. I remain terribly disappointed our champions won’t be there for the rest to take a shot at next season. And borderline traumatised that we won’t be seeing that latest and greatest Polo.
The only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not Andreas Mikkelsen can get back past Thierry Neuville and end his time as a Volkswagen employee second best in the world.
Suppose it would be nice for the Norwegian. But, let’s be honest, do we really care that much about who’s second? Yes, indeed, it’s better than third. But it’s also the first loser.
Probably more interesting is Esapekka Lappi and Skoda’s long-haul bid for the WRC2 title. Third place will be enough for the Finn to deny his countryman Teemu Suninen, who has ended his season level-pegging on points with Elfyn Evans – the Welshman losing out on countback.
So, for one last time Volkswagen…
The finalists for this year’s John Easson Award have been announced, with the winner claiming £5000 to put towards entry fees in 2017.
The award – run by the 2300 Club – will be contested by English rally champion Sam Bilham, Fiesta ST Trophy championship runner-up George Lepley and Junior British Rally Championship competitor Meirion Evans.
The trio will attend an informal interview on November 27, where the judges will choose their winner. Included on the panel of judges are award scheme manager Allan Durham, championship winning co-driver Ian Grindrod and MN’S group national editor Jack Benyon.
Lepley applied for the award last year and didn’t make the finalists, but worked hard to be considered again in 2016.
“After I didn’t make the final, I contacted them to find out what I needed to do to make the final and it was mainly a few tweaks to the presentation,” said Lepley. “I’m looking forward to going and proposing my 2017 plans and my current CV, and see if we can come out on top.”
Welsh driver, Evans credited the organisers for keeping the award going as a relatively small club, offering one of the biggest single cash prizes in UK rallying.
“It’s run by the club and the fact they keep it running every year is great. It costs nothing to enter so it’d be silly not to, and it’s a fantastic award. We want to go and do events further afield next season. I think they’re quite keen on the winner being an ambassador for the award.”
Yorkshireman Bilham will take part in the final for the second year in a row.
Evans is one of the award trio