Today was quite a finale and we had several more thrilling duels. We really enjoyed the day and the whole rally. Everything is moving in the right direction – our new system for the pace notes, our changes to the set-up and the results of the special stages. We’re learning more with every metre we cover, and I feel really at home in the Polo R WRC. We’ve still got lots of ideas about what we can do in future rallies to improve further. On Friday afternoon, we deliberately set out to complete the special in a good time. We didn’t expect to record exactly the same time as my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala though. Unfortunately, we asked too much of the car in the process. It is my job to combine speed with reliability in the coming rallies. I’m already looking forward to tackling that challenge.
All’s well that ends well – the story of the Rally Argentina for Volkswagen Motorsport. On the final special stage of the weekend, the 16,32-kilometre El Condor Power Stage, Jari-Matti Latvala (#7 Polo R WRC), Sébastien Ogier (#8) and Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) once again achieved very good results. Latvala won SS14 in a time of 12:57,2 minutes, an advantage of 1,4 seconds over Ogier – Mikkelsen placed a strong fifth.
Overall victory in Argentina could not, though, be denied world champion Sébastien Loeb in the Citroën, although second and third places for Ogier and Latvala respectively ensured that two of three Volkswagen drivers made it on to the podium. In addition, in the final stages Mikkelsen overhauled Dani Sordo (Citroën) to end eighth.
We’d agreed with our engineers that we would take more risks and go on the attack this afternoon. The special stages were very rough and harsh on the car, and there were lots of violent impacts which damaged something in the front wheel suspension. I was lucky in a way because we still completed the stage in a really good time. But we were unlucky too, because we had to retire early today because of the problem with the suspension. Anyway, tomorrow is another day and we’ll try to keep learning and covering more miles with the Polo R WRC. All in all, I’m not entirely unhappy with the rally.
Rally Argentina Breaking News: Damaged suspension. Cannot start SS9. Will restart tomorrow under Rally2. Big disapointment.
We worked on our communication today and tried out our new pace notes for the first time. Everything is moving in the right direction: our times are getting better and I feel more comfortable in the Polo R WRC with every metre. We’re delighted with our placing too – we’d love to keep it up over the next two days, of course.
Argentina offers me another opportunity to improve bit by bit. My goal is to close the gap. With that in mind, I’ve already changed some aspects of the system I use for pace notes and it will be interesting for me to see what difference that makes. Qualifying was the first step. I’m satisfied with my time because I was a bit cautious in one or two places, especially on one of the jumps. I’m ready for the rally now.
I can hardly wait for the start of the Rally Argentina. I am not concerned about my results. They will come sooner or later. It is all about gaining as much experience as possible. I am approaching the Rally Argentina full of confidence, as I lined up there last year in the Škoda Fabia S2000, and my co-driver Mikko Markkula also has experience in Argentina. I am already really looking forward to my second start in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC.
Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Mikko Markkula, made a great start at the wheel of the third Polo R WRC, which was making its first outing of the season. Mikkelsen did exactly what the team had asked of him, gaining valuable experience in the World Rally Car under competitive conditions and crowning his reliability with sixth place overall and eighth World Championship points.
The second day of the Rally of Portugal was dominated by Volkswagen’s two factory drivers, Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7), who won all six special stages (SS) on Saturday. Despite a lingering virus, Ogier secured four best times and extended his lead over fellow VW driver Latvala to 34.8 seconds. “I toned down my attack towards the end to save my tyres,” the number one driver said.