Can Anybody Beat Volkswagen's WRC Team In 2014?

Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?

After winning the 2013 WRC Championship, the team of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continued by winning the Monte Carlo Rally once again, with all three Polo WRCs finishing in the points. But will Citroën, Ford or newcomer Hyundai catch them?

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This year's 'Monte' started with Robert Kubica being super fast with his new Ford Fiesta, and continued with Robert Kubica falling off the road with his new Ford Fiesta. No big deal, it was his first time on the legendary course.

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Hyundai was also struggling with one car being heavily damaged while the other had a broken alternator. I know how frustrating that can be.

Ogier found himself back at 9th place, but went on finishing consistently in the top-three from then on and winning seven special stages, moving into the lead at halftime. The weather was tough on everybody with so much snow that the 14th special stage had to be cancelled. Despite their pretty advanced AWD system, the cars got stuck.

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Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?

The rest of the VW team pushed hard too. The pair of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila came back from 18th to 5th place with a puncture on their way. Andreas Mikkelsen's was rewarded with six points in the end despite a mistake leading to sliding off the road.

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Volkswagen's effort was also helped by Nicolas Vouilloz, a pioneer of tyre crossing. The team was opting for a mixed tyre set-up in a cross configuration, with slicks fitted on the front left and rear right, and wets in reverse. Interesting.

But even with such magic tricks, let's not forget that second place went to Ford's Bryan Bouffier, while Citroën's Kris Meeke took third. That equals to 37 champion points for Wolfsburg, and 33 to Citroën. Game on! In the meantime, we all know who's missing...

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Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
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Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
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Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
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Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
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Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
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Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?
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Illustration for article titled Can Anybody Beat Volkswagens WRC Team In 2014?

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DISCUSSION

Kookanoodles
Kookanoodles

I think Citroën definitely stand a chance, even if it's a tiny one. The car and team are excellent, no question about that, and Chris Meeke has already shown good promise this weekend. And Sébastien Ogier, while whithout a shadow of doubt the best driver of the WRC, still isn't as consistent as Loeb and makes the occasional mistake. It'll be a bit more complicated for M-Sport, I think, as their two best drivers (Robert Kubica and the surprisingly quick Bryan Bouffier) aren't really M-Sport drivers (Kubica has a separate team just for him, and Bouffier is a privateer, so none of the them can score points for the proper M-Sport team). I wouldn't bet on Hyundai either, Dani Sordo has proven with Citroën that he can be very good at times but remains very inconsistent, and Thierry Neuville is quick but a bit crashy. Also their car still has problems, it would appear. But it's only their first year, they'll get there.