PHOTO: (From left) Ogier, Mikkelsen and Latvala (Volkswagen pic)
VOLKSWAGEN’S podium-sweeping trio from Coates Hire Rally Australia, Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, will be back in action on the Coffs Coast next year after the world champion team confirmed their contracts for another season.
In a statement, Volkswagen said its decision to retain the drivers, who are currently first, second and third in the championship, was “a logical step for all involved”.
“We currently have the three best rally drivers in the world on our books,” team boss Jost Capito said.
“Continuity is an important factor in any success in motorsport and I am delighted to have been able to extend our cooperation with Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen.
“Together with their co-drivers, all three are an essential part of Volkswagen’s overwhelming success in the World Rally Championship and we are sure that we will enjoy much more success in the coming years with this team.”
This week’s announcement before the start of Rally de Espana ends speculation about defending champion Ogier, who in recent months had been linked to seats with other manufacturers. The Frenchman is the longest-serving driver at Volkswagen and joined from Citroen in 2012.
The announcement means the drivers will be expected back at Rally Australia on 10-13 September 2015 aiming to repeat their 1-2-3 result from last month’s event.
Ogier said: “Renewing the contract with Volkswagen is a completely logical step. The best team with the best car – there was no reason for me and Julien (co-driver Julien Ingrassia) to want anything but what is far and away the best opportunity to battle for wins and World Championship titles.
“I am very pleased that we will continue to work with this team, in which we feel so comfortable and with whom we have enjoyed our greatest successes.”
Latvala has achieved 14 of his 46 podium finishes since switching to Volkswagen in January 2013.
“At Volkswagen I have everything I need to challenge for wins and titles and I am very happy that the team continues to put its faith in us,” he said.
Mikkelsen has tackled 20 rallies in the Polo R since he joined in April 2013.
“To start alongside Sébastien and Jari-Matti for Volkswagen again in 2015, there is no better opportunity out there in rallying,” he said.
“You can learn from the best and, at the same time, compare yourself against them in the same car. I can look back on two extremely exciting years and a steep learning curve with Volkswagen.
“I am sure we will continue to develop together.”