Volkswagen anticipating tougher WRC challenge in 2016

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Volkswagen team principal Jost Capito is anticipating a tougher challenge in 2016 as the German marque goes in search of its fourth consecutive World Rally Championship title.

In-keeping with the holiday season, Volkswagen released a video earlier this week showing three-time rally champion Sebastien Ogier lighting an advent candle – with his rally car, naturally.

Ogier has won the last three world titles with Volkswagen after Sebastien Loeb’s departure from the WRC, who had claimed nine straight championships between 2004 and 2012.

VW continued its preparations for the 2016 season with a six-day test around the Col de Perty in France that saw its drivers complete over 1,000km in preparation for the first rally of the season in Monte Carlo.

Ogier was joined on the test by his co-driver, Julien Ingrassia, as well as fellow lead VW drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen.

“Despite a lack of snow, the tests on and around the Col de Perty near the town of Laborel were worth their weight in gold,” a statement from VW read.

“The three driver/co-driver duos trialled set-up variants for the Polo R WRC and tested various combinations of the Michelin tires to be used next year.”

Capito was keen for VW to hit the ground running as he believes the team will face a tougher challenge from its rivals in 2016.

“Everyone wants to make the best possible start to the new season and take as much momentum as possible into the coming rallies,” Capito said. “As such, tests are of great importance, in order to prepare for the tough tasks ahead.

“For the third time in a row, we go into the season as the team to beat, and we will be up against stronger opponents than before: Hyundai has a new car, while M-Sport-Ford has strengthened its squad of drivers and co-drivers.

“As such, we go into the season with heightened senses – and, thanks to the tests, with sufficient experience for the Monte.”