Ogier: The Polo was perfect again!

Simply irresistible: Volkswagen and Ogier lead in Portugal

By Franck Drui

5 April 2014 - 21:50
Ogier: The Polo was perfect again!

Volkswagen moved into the lead early on day two of the Rally Portugal, and then proceeded to extend its advantage at the top of the standings. World Champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) won five of the day’s six special stages. On a route still damp in some places and dry in others, tyre selection once again played a major role. Ogier/Ingrassia benefitted from having more soft tyres still at their disposal than their closest rivals. Their Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) made up two places on Saturday and now lie sixth overall – within striking distance of the top five.

The comeback of the day was made possible by an incredible effort from the Volkswagen mechanics. They spent Friday night repairing the Polo R WRC driven by Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) after yesterday’s crash. Remarkably, the car was back on the start line and looking as good as new by the morning. Back out on the route, the number 2 Polo R WRC picked up a stage win as reward for the mechanics’ efforts.

The Volkswagen team celebrated another milestone on day two of the Rally Portugal. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia clocked the fastest time on the second run of the “Santa Clara” special stage. In doing so, they claimed the 200th stage win for the 315-hp World Rally Car from Wolfsburg. By the end of Saturday’s action, the Polo R WRC had a remarkable 202 stage wins from a possible 309 to its name. That is a success rate of 65 per cent.

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“That was really a very good day for us. The Polo was perfect again! A few sections of the route were still damp and slippery, but we were spot on with our tyre selection this time. However, I still tried not to drive too aggressively, in order to save the tyres as much as possible. This rally represents a good opportunity for Julien and me to extend our lead in the World Championship, so we are not taking too many risks or going flat-out at any cost. I obviously want to win here in Portugal for the fourth time, but Mikko Hirvonen is very quick out there. The lead might look comfortable, but the same applies every time: to win it, you must first complete the rally.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to our mechanics. They showed huge commitment, working until midnight to repair our Polo, which was severely damaged. It was a difficult task, but the team provided us with a perfect car this morning – as underlined by the fastest time on the third stage. For us, today was all about finding a good rhythm, whilst at the same time saving the tyres in order to be able to attack in Sunday’s Power Stage. The points up for grabs in the Power Stage could still prove very important in the championship. We accepted the disadvantage of being on hard tyres this afternoon, in order to save some soft tyres for tomorrow.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“A day of two halves for me. The morning was just as the whole rally ought really to have been for me. I had greater confidence in the car and my pace notes, and everything was heading in the right direction. We climbed two places without having to take too many risks. Then the power steering failed in the afternoon, and I ended up competing in a strong-man competition as well as doing my job as a rally driver. We found the cause and solved the problem, but we could not find any real grip on the hard tyres. Not the best choice, but I am still happy with the day.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“The first people to praise today are the Volkswagen mechanics. They put in a masterly performance to not only get Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila back in the race in their Polo R WRC, but to give them a car with which they were able to win a special stage. I take my hat off to them. My second praise goes to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who drove like World Champions again today. They came from third place to open a comfortable lead. Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula also climbed two places. All in all it was a fantastic day for Volkswagen at the Rally Portugal. We must now keep our focus and do a flawless job to ensure we come away from tomorrow with another positive result.”



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