Karlstad (Sweden), Feb 11 (IANS) Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia won the Rally Sweden at the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
In only its second competitive outing Feb 7-10, the 315-hp World Rally Car from the Wolfsburg-based firm emerged triumphant on the Scandinavian ice and snow against strong opposition - including nine-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb (Citroen).
Eleven best times from 22 special stages - Ogier and Ingrassia led the overall standings right from the word go and refused to be shifted from the top spot until they reached the finish Sunday afternoon.
Ogier set the foundation for the success in qualification Thursday when he clocked the fastest time to finish seven places ahead of the multiple World Champion Loeb. Loeb eventually ended the rally 41.8 seconds behind his fellow Frenchman Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finished fourth in the second Polo R WRC to complete an outstanding team result for WRC debutant's Volkswagen.
Ogier's win here will take a special place in the history of the WRC. Ogier's eighth success is only the second by a central European at the Rally Sweden since 1950. Until now, the event had been won almost exclusively by Nordic drivers. Ogier joins Loeb as only the second winner of Sweden to come from outside of Sweden, Norway and Finland. Loeb was the first to break the Nordic countries' stranglehold in 2004.
The Rally Sweden is the only rally held exclusively on ice and snow. The teams use special Michelin Sweden studs and the winter specs for the World Rally Cars.
Ogier now leads the Drivers' Championship, three points ahead of Loeb. The next WRC round will take place from March 7-10 in Mexico, with the rally centred around Leon.