07 April 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Potent in Portugal – Ogier and Volkswagen claim third 2014 WRC win


2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Portugal: Ogier/Ingrassia

Rally Portugal from 3-6 April, the toughest event so far of the 2014 World Rally Championship season, saw Volkswagen emerge victorious for the third time this year. World Champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia fought hard to take their third podium, scoring the Volkswagen Polo R WRC’s record eighth consecutive event victory – the longest winning run in WRC history.

Ogier and Ingrassia’s team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finished 14th after a major crash rendered the Finnish duo’s Polo R WRC undrivable on day two of the event. A super-human overnight effort by the crew’s mechanics saw the car restart the next day under Rally 2 regulations, looking as a good as new. Challenging for the lead from second place on the Friday saw Latvala make a minor mistake, which then flipped and rolled the #2 315bhp Polo.

But, picking up four valuable points for the Manufacturers’ Championship proved the efforts were worthwhile. Latvala and Anttila then went on to take two stage wins, and also finished runners-up on the Power Stage, picking up a further two bonus points.

Latvala was reflective: ‘The Rally Portugal has shown once again that it is deservedly seen as one of the most difficult rallies in the world. Our pace was very good, so we had the opportunity to finish on the podium. Unfortunately, however, an avoidable little mistake on Friday had pretty big consequences. That was very disappointing and put paid to any chances of a good result. We then altered our strategy and targeted the Power Stage.’

The final Volkswagen crew, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula, also endured a varied event. Making their second Rally Portugal start in the Polo R WRC, the pair created a new set of pace notes. However, the heavy rain and poor visibility during the recce meant their new notes didn’t correlate with the changing conditions. Mikkelsen and Markkula decided to set about a damage limitation exercise, and not take any risks. But, a fourth place finish is still something worth savouring.

‘The Rally Portugal did not go as I had hoped, although the eventual result was not so bad. We decided to write some new pace notes. However, the heavy rain during the ‘Recce’ made visibility so poor that I could not really put any faith in them. The variable conditions at the start of the rally also made me a bit cautious. I lost a lot of time, but the last thing I wanted to do was to take too many risks. That paid off, in terms of the result at least: fourth place is the best we could really have hoped for,’ commented Mikkelsen.

For Ogier and Ingrassia, though, the Rally Portugal victory was the icing on a difficult-to-bake cake. The ingredients were all there, from an early win on the pre-rally ‘Fafe Rally Sprint’ (in front of 140,000 spectators) to the powerful Polo R WRC. But, the French pair’s 19th triumph wasn’t easy, with the lead changing and three different manufacturers on the podium during the event.

‘Four wins in five years. It is no exaggeration: the Rally Portugal is one of my very favourites! The whole week has been fantastic. First the show in front of more than 100,000 fans at the ‘Fafe Rally Sprint’, and now the icing on the cake with our title defence at the Rally Portugal on the Algarve. The encouragement and support of the fans is rather special here. We only took as many risks as needed on soft tyres on the final day. I heard that Markku Alén is the uncrowned king with five wins in Portugal. We can achieve that too next year. That is our goal,’ said a determined Ogier.

With saturated surfaces and tyre choices proving significant, Rally Portugal was demanding. But Volkswagen Motorsport came through it, extending its lead in the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships. The record-breaking Polo R WRC now stands with the Citroën DS3 WRC as the car which has achieved the most wins in one run. The record was previously held by Citroën, who scored the same feat in 2011.

The rally monster from Wolfsburg also celebrated another milestone in Portugal. Contesting its 300th special stage on Friday, just as it had on its previous anniversaries – 50, 100, 150 and 250 – the Polo R WRC celebrated its latest achievement with another stage win. Seven special stages later it had taken another milestone: the 200th stage win since making its debut in 2013.

By the end of the Rally Portugal, Volkswagen had won 204 of the 312 special stages it has contested since the start of last season – a success rate of 65 per cent. Of 850 possible top-three times, 459 have gone to the Polo R WRC. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s victory marked the 24th podium and 14th win in 17 rallies since 2013 for Volkswagen.

The WRC crews head next to South America for the Rally Argentina from 8-11 May.

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

RALLY PORTUGAL: FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 3h 33m 20.4s
2 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Ford: + 43.2s
3 Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën: + 1m 12.4s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN), Volkswagen: + 4m 50.5s
5 Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor (N/A), Ford: + 5m 10.2s

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Sébastien Ogier, 91

2 Jari-Matti Latvala, 62

3 Mads Østberg, 48

4 Andreas Mikkelsen, 36
5 Mikko Hirvonen, 36

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 144

2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 75

3 M-Sport, 60

4 Hyundai Motorsport, 45

5 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 40

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