24 May 2016 ~ 0 Comments

2016 Rally Portugal podiums for Mikkelsen and Ogier

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Portugal: Ogier/Ingrassia

Four winners in five rounds of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship – that was the result of the 2016 Rally Portugal, at which Citroën’s Kris Meeke reigned supreme. That of course means one thing: victory escaped Volkswagen Motorsport’s three-time world champion Sébastien Ogier.

But, it wasn’t all bad news: although Ogier finished uncharacteristically on the last step of the podium, his finish and Andreas Mikkelsen’s second place shored up the Volkswagen Motorsport points tally in the overall championship standings.

Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger’s finish benefitted them in particular, with the Norwegian pair leapfrogging two places up the Drivers’ Championship table, now just 47 points behind their leading French team-mates. Whatever the outcome, the podium places in Portugal were the 318bhp Polo R WRC’s 75th and 76th top three results in the car’s 44th competitive event. What of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila? The Finnish duo came home sixth.

‘Cautious approach’
Ogier claimed he was close to both his and the car’s limits in Portugal: ‘That was certainly one of the toughest and most physically demanding rallies I have ever driven at in Portugal. Julien and I were once again right on the limit this weekend. As such, I am very happy with my performance. I would obviously have liked to have stayed ahead of Andreas. However, after the slow puncture on Sunday’s first stage, we had to take a slightly more cautious approach.

‘Without another spare tyre it would have been too risky otherwise with these route conditions. I would like to say an extra big ‘Obrigado’ to the many Portuguese fans. The crowds here are simply fantastic. It is great to see that the entire country is supporting rallying – whether the police, fans or the president himself, who popped in to see us in the service park.’

Once again, though, it was Mikkelsen and Jæger who impressed most. On the scent of Ogier and Meeke, the young pair upped the ante from the halfway point of the Portuguese stages. Overtaking Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, the third Volkswagen Motorsport crew started to diminish Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia’s 20-second lead over them, a puncture not helping the French drivers.

‘Perfect set-up’
Mikkelsen was pleased his and Jæger’s result: ‘Rally Portugal got better with every day for Anders and me. In the end, it feels great to take our place on the podium again as runners-up, and to have gone one better than I did last year. We definitely found the perfect set-up for the difficult conditions here in Portugal on Saturday and Sunday.

‘That and Anders’ outstanding work on the recce are what made this superb result possible. Plus, we have climbed into second place in the overall standings. We can be proud of our result in Portugal and are already looking forward to the next round of the championship – the Rally Italy.’

In a repeat of bad luck which has plagued them so far this season, Latvala and Anttila hit a hole in the ‘Ponte de Lima’ stage on day one, which resulted in the loss of power steering as well as 45.6 seconds. However, once again the Finns displayed remarkable resilience and bounced back to sixth place on day two, holding that place until the end of the event on day three.

‘Different ambitions’
Latvala was in reflective mood: ‘Coming into the rally we obviously had completely different ambitions. However, after the way it panned out, we have to be happy with sixth place. We were able to contribute some valuable points towards the Manufacturers’ Championship, and second place on the Power Stage was also a nice way to finish. I must say a big thank you to my team and the fans, who supported us magnificently.’

At the now legendary Fafe stage, over 100,000 rally fans saw the three Volkswagen Polo R WRCs take first, second and third places on the Power Stage, the car’s 803rd special stage. The result – Ogier first, Latvala second and Mikkelsen third – marked the 102nd time Volkswagen crews have taken the top spot honours and locked out the other competitors as well as being the car’s 35th Power Stage victory.

Other stats? The Power Stage was stage win number 562 for the power-packed Polo, which equates to 70 per cent of all stages it has contested in its three-year career. The next round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship is Rally Italy, held on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia from 9-12 June.

2016 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,
RALLY PORTUGAL FINAL RESULTS

1 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën: 3h 59m 01.0s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen: + 29.7s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: + 34.5s
4 Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai: + 1m 37.1s
5 Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (F/F), Ford: + 4m 01.6s

2016 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Sébastien Ogier, 114
2 Andreas Mikkelsen, 67
3 Mads Østberg, 58
4 Hayden Paddon, 57
5 Dani Sordo, 56

2016 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,
MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 145
2 Hyundai Motorsport, 96
3 M-Sport, 82
4 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 70
5 Hyundai Motorsport N, 55

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