Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene have won the Rally Spain with Volkswagen to claim their first victory in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Their first WRC success completed a remarkable one-two for Volkswagen – the seventh of the season. The Norwegians clinched victory in the dying seconds on the closing Power Stage.
Mikkelsen and Floene won the final stage to finish 3.1 seconds ahead of their teammates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, before benefitting from a mistake by fellow Volkswagen men Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia who retired. After twelve podiums with the Polo R WRC, Mikkelsen and Floene climbed onto the very top step of the rostrum for the first time in their career – on their 64th appearance at the pinnacle of rallying. This was victory number 11 of the season for the Polo R WRC, and the 33rd since the car made its debut in January 2013.
In securing a Volkswagen one-two, the Polo R WRC was the most versatile and fastest World Rally Car at the only rally on the World Championship calendar to be held on both gravel and asphalt: 17 of 23 possible stage wins went to Wolfsburg, including a clean-sweep on asphalt. One thing is certain going into the final round of the World Rally Championship, the Rally Great Britain: the three Volkswagen duos will finish first, second and third in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championships for the second year in a row.
A rally duel, mano a mano, right through to the finish: the battle between Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala was decided by just 3.1 seconds – in favor of the youngster. A puncture cost Latvala roughly 10 seconds on the 20th of the 23 special stages. Just one stage later, Mikkelsen dropped several seconds after spinning his car. Going into the closing Power Stage, the experienced Finn trailed the young Norwegian by just 1.4 seconds. It was left to the Power Stage to solve this thriller.
Before the battle with Mikkelsen developed into such a thriller, a captivating struggle for the lead had lit up the Rally Spain: a flat tyre on the twelfth of 23 special stages brought the duel between Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala to a premature end. Latvala suffered a puncture whilst cutting a right-hander, losing almost a minute as a result. However, Latvala bounced straight back from this set-back: he battled his way back into second place, where he found himself embroiled in another all-Volkswagen duel – this time with team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen. Meanwhile, Ogier/Ingrassia appeared to have wrapped up their eighth win of the season. However, a single mistake made whilst attempting to secure Power Stage victory number 26 dashed any hopes of claiming the 32nd victory of their career shortly before the end of the rally. On the final stage, which was reminiscent of a racetrack, the three-time world champions strayed from the racing line and touched a crash barrier, causing such severe damage to their car that they were forced to retire. The pair was given the all clear following a routine medical check.