17 April 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Unflappable Ogier and Polo R WRC take victory at Rally Portugal

2013 Volkswagen Polo WRC: Rally Portugal, Ogier/Ingrassia

It looked as though it may not happen, but Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were once again victorious in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship yesterday, lifting the trophy at Rally Portugal. The third win of the season for Volkswagen Motorsport, Ogier was recovering from the end of flu at the start of the event, and took victory ahead of Citroën’s Mikko Hirvonen and Polo R WRC team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, who celebrated their first podium finish of 2013. The third Polo R WRC driver, Andreas Mikkelsen, made a promising start to his Volkswagen career, coming in sixth with his co-driver Mikko Markkula. With points scored at the fourth event of 2013, Volkswagen now sits at the top of the FIA World Rally Championship manufacturer’s table. Ogier heads the drivers.

Despite his illness, Ogier performed well, right from the start, emerging with a slender lead at the end of day one. Four stage wins on Saturday retained his grip on the lead, a lead he held until the finish of the event on Sunday. But, his drive wasn’t without problems. Both he and Latvala suffered mechanical failures on the final day of the event. Ogier’s connecter between the front and rear axles (which allows the handbrake to be used in tight hairpins) refused to close, losing him time, while one of Latvala’s driveshafts broke, causing him to tackle the longest stage of the event – the 52.30km Almodovar stage – with just rear-wheel drive. He ultimately surrendered his then-second place, but still drove superbly enough to finish in third place overall.

Intercontinental Rally champion Mikkelsen meanwhile did exactly what the team asked of him, gaining valuable experience in the Polo R WRC under competitive conditions and crowning his reliability with sixth place overall and eighth World Championship points. The pair climbed eight places on the scoreboard on Sunday, the final day, having been slowed down on Friday by a leak in the power steering circuit. ‘I learned something on every metre of my first rally with the Polo R WRC. My goal was to gain as much experience as possible. I have come away with a lot of ideas as to how we can improve in the future. With the Polo R WRC, everything is a lot quicker than I am used to in Super 2000 cars. I am not yet using the full potential of the car, but I am very happy with my debut for Volkswagen. I received great support from the team, and would like to thank them for that,‘ said a delighted Mikkelsen.



Latvala was equally pleased with his result. ‘I am very happy and satisfied to stand on the podium for the first time for Volkswagen. We had a difficult start to the season, but our run of bad luck has finally come to an end. I feel really at home in the Polo R WRC now, and think that we will soon be able to do even better. The rally was a tough test for driver and car, as the route had suffered some serious erosion over the winter. The hard ground and stones really put the car through its paces. Driver and co-driver had to be fully focussed and have perfect pace notes in order to get the car safely through the stages. Our mechanics did a perfect job of replacing the broken driveshaft on Sunday. As always, they were totally dependable. That all gives me a lot of encouragement ahead of the upcoming rallies.’

 
Ogier meanwhile, couldn’t quite believe he’d won another event. ‘Unbelievable. I am overjoyed with our win. First the illness, then the brutal stages, which really push a rally car to the very limit. We had the problem with the power transmission on this morning’s opening stage, but fortunately we made it to the service and the guys did a fantastic job. I think we really deserved the win. The rally was extremely demanding and difficult, for the car, the entire team, and particularly for me. When I arrived in Portugal on Monday evening, I was not certain whether I would be able to start. I was always tired and my energy reserves were completely empty. I was largely able to blank it out while I was driving, as the body is running on adrenalin then – but I certainly did not feel fully fit. Fortunately my condition improved considerably over the last two days. I will now try to get as much rest and regain as much strength as possible in time for Rally Argentina.”

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, RALLY DU PORTUGAL: FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 4h 7m 38.7s
2 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Citroën + 58.2s

3 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 4m 04.5s

4 Evgeny Novikov/Ilka Minor (RUS/A), Ford + 5m 27.7s

5 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini (Q/I), Ford + 7m 43.5s

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Sébastien Ogier: 102
2 Mikko Hirvonen: 48

3 Sébastien Loeb: 43
4 Mads Østberg: 32

5 Jari-Matti Latvala: 31

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