Ogier and Latvala second and third in Italy
Rally Italia Sardegna
Volkswagen is within touching distance of the lead at the Rally Italy: Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) are currently second and third after 136 of 394.63 kilometres against the clock. Five of the ten special stages so far at round six of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) have gone to Wolfsburg. In dusty conditions on the narrow, winding special stages, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Citroën and Ford were embroiled in a thrilling battle for the top five positions. The extremely hot and dry conditions the drivers faced on Thursday in Sardinia were replaced on Friday by muggy weather following thunderstorms during the night. The drivers and co-drivers face a Herculean task on Saturday: with 212.83 kilometres of special stage, day two on Sardinia is the longest day of the WRC season so far.
Ogier and Latvala exchanged blows for long periods on Friday. They were embroiled in an all-Volkswagen duel for second place until a puncture cost Latvala about 20 seconds. Prior to that, the gap between the world champion and last year’s runner-up in the World Championship had always been between two and five seconds. Going into the second full day of the rally, second-placed Ogier trails the leader Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) by 8.8 – 17.0 seconds ahead of his team-mate Latvala.
The third pair in the Polo R WRC, Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), were unable to take part in the afternoon’s special stages. They hit a hole in the road on the second special stage of the day, “Grighine Nord”, damaging a rim and the suspension point of the rear-right shock absorber, which consequently resulted in damage to parts of the fuel system. They were forced to abandon their own attempts to repair the car on the liaison stage ahead of the “Sagama” special stage. However, they will rejoin the race on Saturday under Rally2 regulations after the Volkswagen team managed to successfully repair their Polo R WRC.
Quotes after day one of the Rally Italy
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“That was a fantastic day. I am super happy with our performance. The day started well yesterday with a perfect forecast from our weather crew. A big thank you for that. It allowed Julien and me to select the right tyre compounds. The Polo was superb and my co-driver Julien did a magnificent job. It really could not have gone better. Hayden Paddon did a great job. Respect! It will not be easy to make up the time on him. However, as his closest rival we are well positioned and have a Saturday with more than 200 demanding kilometres ahead of us.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The conditions were anything but easy today. The stages were nice, but narrow and very technical. The storm in the morning meant we had to adapt to a slippery route. Over the course of the afternoon I was able to find my rhythm and set some good times. Unfortunately, however, I then lost a bit of time when I made a slight mistake. I took a chicane in the middle of the stage too quickly and punctured a tyre, which cost me about 20 seconds. That does not make the task facing us over the next two days any easier. However, a lot can happen between now and the end, as the Rally Italy is one of the longest of the year. Compliments to Hayden Paddon, he was flying today!”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“500 metres from the end of the ‘Grighine Nord’ special stage we hit a hole in the road after a fast left-hander. It was a very narrow point, which we were taking in fifth gear, so we had no chance of avoiding the hole. We hit it with the rear-right wheel, and that was enough to damage the rim and then the compensation tank for the damper. On the following stage, which was extremely bumpy, the damper shot through the upper mount. We were able to crawl to the end of the stage, but it was game over for us on the following liaison stage – apparently as a result of subsequent damage to the fuel system. We will use the opportunity to gain more experience of Sardinia tomorrow, before we launch an all-out attack on Sunday’s Power Stage, which we won last year.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“A good start to the Rally Italy for Volkswagen. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala fought hard for every tenth of a second today, and have both put themselves into a good position, from which to push for the win. The difficult and unsettled conditions out on the route made it really hard work. Seb and Jari-Matti will do everything in their power on the long day tomorrow to close the gap to the leader and, if possible, to take the lead. That is the goal. Andreas Mikkelsen was a bit unlucky today. He had to retire in the third Polo R WRC and will return tomorrow under Rally2 regulations. He will now go for broke on the Power Stage on Sunday.”
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