Volkswagen poised to pounce with Ogier and Mikkelsen

Crash dashes hopes of victory for Latvala/Anttila

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By Olivier Ferret

24 April 2016 - 03:07
Volkswagen poised to pounce with (...)

The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is set for a dramatic showdown at the Rally Argentina. The final 55.28 kilometres of the fourth round of the season will play host to a duel between youngsters Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ, Hyundai) and world champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC. Paddon leads Ogier by 29.8 seconds ahead of the remaining three special stages on Sunday, each one a huge challenge in its own right. Also on course for a podium finish are Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), who go into the final day of the Rally Argentina in third place, 14.5 seconds behind their Volkswagen team-mates.

In stark contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) suffered a serious set-back. Leading the rally, the Finnish duo came off the road on stage 14 – “Los Gigantes–Cantera el Condor” after hitting a rock at the side of the road. They rolled several times, causing such severe damage to the car that they were unable to continue. Only when the car is returned to the service park will it be possible to determine whether or not the Polo R WRC is able to return under Rally 2 regulations on Sunday.

The longest day of the Rally Argentina, with 157.82 kilometres against the clock, consisted of three challenging special stages, which the drivers had to tackle twice. Fast, flowing sections alternated with narrow, winding passages.

Quotes after day two of the Rally Argentina

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“Tomorrow’s ‘Mina Clavero’ stage is definitely the hardest stage of the Rally Argentina, if not the entire world championship. The conditions are extremely tough for the car and the tyres. That is not the moment to risk everything. Especially as Hayden Paddon has done a good job so far, and it would not usually be possible to make up 30 seconds. My priority is to secure second place, then I can look forward to getting home soon. Jari-Matti’s retirement is obviously a great shame for our entire team, as we really wanted to win here.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“First things first: Miikka and I are well. We will, however, be taken to hospital for a check-up – just to be on the safe side. We were actually having a good day. We had a good rhythm and had not had any problems. We hit a rock on stage 14 and came off the road. We then rolled several times. We obviously could not continue the rally after that. Whether or not we are able to return under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow depends on the doctors’ decision and the state of our car. The crash is naturally very disappointing, but it also showed just how safe the Polo R WRC is.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“The news of Jari-Matti Latvala’s retirement is obviously not what we wanted to hear. He produced an extremely strong performance and thoroughly deserved to be leading with a healthy advantage. It is a shame he can no longer win the rally. My co-driver Anders and I have come up with a strategy here, which we have stuck to consistently. We have set a high, but safe pace. Our priority is to score points towards the championship. Third place stands us in good stead for tomorrow’s finale, which we are very much looking forward to. We have never made it onto the podium here before. That is something we are obviously determined to change now.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“A day of highs and lows for Volkswagen. Jari-Matti Latvala had established a good advantage and deserved to be leading the rally. Unfortunately, he hit a rock on the penultimate stage of the day – that was really unlucky. Sébastien Ogier made the most of the day, and could still challenge for the win if he produces an outstanding performance tomorrow. Andreas Mikkelsen has paced himself intelligently and deservedly finds himself in third place. The fans can look forward to an exciting finale on Sunday – the ‘El Condor’ and ‘Mina Clavero’ stages are far from a stroll in the park. This rally is not over yet. We will push hard tomorrow.”

WRC

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