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Volkswagen defends its lead in Sweden

Ogier masters herculean task

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By Olivier Ferret

13 February 2016 - 20:57
Volkswagen defends its lead in (...)

Willingness to take risks pays dividends: Volkswagen is within touching distance of a fourth win in a row at the Rally Sweden. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) overcame unfavourable route conditions to defend their lead over Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ, Hyundai), ending day two with a 17.1-second advantage. Going into the final stage of the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Sunday’s short 15.87-kilometre Power Stage, Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) are fourth in their Polo R WRC. Their fightback from sixth place in the overall standings was curtailed by a slip-up, which sees them start the final day 25.1 seconds behind third-placed Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N, M-Sport-Ford).

Returning under Rally 2 regulations, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) also produced an impressive performance. Three of five possible stage wins went to the third Polo R WRC duo. The Finnish pair benefitted, particularly in the first loop, from the very effect that made the task facing Ogier/Ingrassia so immense: with every World Rally Car that passed, the special stages became quicker and quicker, as the layer of snow was gradually swept from the racing line.

Quotes after day two of the Rally Sweden

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“We gave absolutely everything today, from the first metre to the last. We knew that we would lose a lot of time on some stages, as we had to open the route after the overnight snowfall, meaning we had to sweep the roads for those behind us. As we obviously wanted to take our lead into tomorrow, there was no time for tactics. Apart from one moment on the second pass of ‘Vargåsen’, we did not give a millimetre and had an almost perfect day. To go into tomorrow’s closing Power Stage with a lead is obviously good news. We took a big step towards our third victory in Sweden today.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“I had big plans for today. Unfortunately, the day began just as badly as yesterday had finished. We suffered a flat tyre on the very first special stage. After that, I at least salvaged something from day two of the rally with a few stage wins. That was important, as you ask an awful lot of yourself after a start like that. At the moment I can only keep my fingers crossed that my team-mates are successful for Volkswagen. However, the good times will return.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“I knew that, given our early starting position, I had to push hard if I wanted to challenge for a place on the podium. Our times at the start of the day were really good. However, our pace notes were a bit too optimistic at one point on the ‘Rämmen’ stage. We skidded off the road and into a ditch, after which we had to turn round and consequently lost a lot of time. That changed our situation and we then concentrated on securing fourth place. We had actually hoped to challenge for the win – but, all in all, we made too many mistakes.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“A really exciting day at the Rally Sweden, with a good result for Volkswagen in the end. And, thanks to the overnight snowfall, Sweden is a winter rally once again. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took their courage in both hands today and produced an impressive performance to overcome the disadvantage of having to open the route as world championships leaders. Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger could also have been rewarded more highly for their will to attack. They have, however, at least managed to climb from sixth to fourth place. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila showed that it is no coincidence that they have won the Rally Sweden three times in the past with some top times today.“

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