11 March 2013 ~ 3 Comments

Marvellous in Mexico – Ogier takes second WRC win of the season

Volkswagen Polo R WRC: 2013 Rally Mexico

A sign of things to come? Fresh from their victory at Rally Sweden in February, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took victory at the Rally Mexico yesterday, with a lead of three minutes and 28 seconds over Finnish pairing Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen. The Volkswagen Polo R WRC drivers scored a total of 16 stage wins to win the third round of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship, with Ogier driving flat out to beat the chasing Citroën DS3 pairing. The Frenchman dominated the event from start to finish, and along with Ingrassia, won all but seven of the 23 special stages with his consistent speed.

Polo R WRC number 7 car driven by Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila didn’t fare so well, retiring from the event after hitting a rock just metres into the first special stage of day two. However, under Rally 2 regulations, the Finns were able to re-enter the event for Saturday and Sunday’s action. Finishing in the top three on six of the ten special stages, Latvala also managed to clock the third fastest time on the Power Stage, earning himself a bonus point towards the WRC rankings in the process.

It wasn’t always easy. With temperatures reaching around 30 degrees Celsius, the 395km Rally Mexico is littered with descents from altitudes as high as 2671 metres above sea level, challenging both the car and its driver. Brake fluid almost heated to boiling point, but the Polo R WRC put in a flawless performance, demonstrating its durability through the dust-lined and gravel-surfaced 23 stages. Volkswagen Motorsport states that Ogier and Ingrassia’s victory s also one for its engineers who prepared the cars especially and meticulously for the demanding event.

Surrounded in controversy, Ogier almost had an altercation too – a closed gate at the 32nd kilometre of the 18th stage, ‘Otates 2’, meant that he had to implement an emergency stop from full rally speed. Ingrassia then had to leap out of the car and open the gate before the two Frenchmen could continue on their way. Despite losing 37 seconds, Ogier’s time was still good enough to finish sixth fastest on the stage.

Ogier was euphoric with his win: ‘What a fantastic feeling. The Polo R WRC was perfect for every single minute of the Rally Mexico. I can only thank my team for that. This victory at our debut on gravel is very special and will always have a special place in my heart. We take every win as it comes. This morning I took an extremely cautious approach on the first special stage and steered around every stone. However, from midway through I put my foot down again. We obviously have a big lead now in the World Rally Championship, but there are still another ten rallies to come.’

Although his retirement prohibited him from coming in the top five, Latvala gained valuable Polo R WRC experience. ‘No sooner had the rally started than things took a turn for the worse for us. We had to give up after a matter of metres on Friday, due to suspension damage we received when we hit a stone. After that, we tried a few things with the car and I worked on my driving style. By the end of the rally, I felt more comfortable than ever in the Polo. I now have a better understanding of the handling characteristics. That gives me a lot of motivation ahead of Portugal. Winning a point on the Power Stage was a nice way to finish,‘ he said.

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director was pleased with the Polo R WRC’s gravel debut: ‘Never in our wildest dreams did we expect this kind of success at our very first gravel rally with the Polo R WRC. We prepared meticulously for the World Rally Championship, and left nothing to chance in the run up to the Rally Mexico. As such, the win in Mexico is a success for the entire team; mot only on-site, but also at home in Hannover and Wolfsburg. It is impossible to overrate Sébastien Ogier’s performance: the Ogier factor was what made the difference here. It allowed us to challenge for the win right from the word go. Jari-Matti Latvala’s performance was no less impressive. He was really unlucky right at the start of the rally, but fought back magnificently. The suspension damage he suffered has shown us that we can still improve the Polo R WRC.’

The fourth round of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship will take place in Portugal from 11th to 14th April. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala will be joined in the Volkswagen Motorsport team by Andreas Mikkelsen, who will also drive a Polo R WRC.



2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, RALLY MEXICO: FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 4h 30m 27s


2 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Citroën + 3m 28.9s

3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Ford + 4m 23.8s

4 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (E/E), Citroën + 6m 06.7s

5 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini (Q/I), Ford + 8m 34.6s

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Sébastien Ogier: 74


2 Sébastien Loeb: 43

3 Mikko Hirvonen: 30

4 Dani Sordo: 27

5 Mads Østberg: 26

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