High-flying Volkswagen – one-two in Mexico

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Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila lead the third WRC rally of the year.

The success story goes on and on and on. Volkswagen leads the Rally Mexico with two Polo R WRCs going into Sunday’s final leg. After 319.71 of 399.93 kilometres against the clock, World Champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) have pulled 1m 00.3s clear of team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), who topped the standings in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) coming into the event in Central America. A matter of concentration: with high temperatures and four special stages over 30 kilometres in length, physical and mental fitness were the difference between success and failure. While their closest rivals were forced to retire after mistakes with serious consequences, Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila reliably negotiated the day’s 170.08 kilometres of special stage without incident.

Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport

Photo by: Volkswagen Motorsport

30.33-kilometre “Ibarilla” twice, and “Otates” and “Otatitos”, at 53.69 and 43.06 kilometres respectively – the Rally Mexico’s long special stages put both man and machine to the test. Day two once again came to a premature end for Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula. The duo crashed out on the second stage of the day, trying to cut a left-hander but succeeding only in flipping their car on an embankment. The Volkswagen team is reassembling the number 9 Polo R WRC, which should be ready to re-join the action on the final day of the Rally Mexico – Mikkelsen/Markkula will line up for the closing 80.22 kilometres on Sunday under Rally2 regulations.

Quotes after day two of the Rally Mexico

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“A fantastic day for us! The Polo is running absolutely perfectly and is as reliable as clockwork. Julien and I now have a comfortable lead, which will allow us to keep a check on the opposition. However, we will definitely not be relaxing. The Rally Mexico is one of the toughest on the calendar, and a lot can happen on the coarse gravel between now and the finish – especially given the fact that we still have to tackle the longest stage, ‘Guanajuatito’, tomorrow. 55.92 kilometres across country at full throttle, with temperatures in the cockpit reaching up to 40 degrees. You have to call on all your strength and remain fully focussed in order to come through it well. But one thing is certain: we want sombreros and cowboy boots as trophies on the podium again. And unless we suddenly come across a closed gate tomorrow, it is looking good for us.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am very happy with second place today. Even this morning, Sébastien Ogier had opened such a big lead that we would not have been able to catch him under normal circumstances anyway. At the same time, the Rally Mexico once again showed how tough it is: many teams had major problems and had to give in. Our Polo was flawless, even on the very rough sections. It was pretty tiring work in the cockpit in that heat, and the ‘Otates’ stage was one of the longest I have ever driven. Given our expectations – after all, we had to open the route yesterday, which was a definite disadvantage – and with an eye on the championship, second place would definitely be a great result.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Retiring early two days in a row obviously doesn’t make a great impression. It might look as though I took too many risks today, but that is precisely what I was trying to avoid. I was actually downright cautious. However, we hit a hole when cutting the corner in a left-hander, which flipped and rolled us. That was obviously it for today. The plan coming into the rally was to get as many kilometres under our belt as possible in preparation for next year. To learn anything of use, however, you still have to go at a decent speed. That will also be the approach tomorrow, when we return again under Rally2 regulations for the final stages.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“It is hard to keep your concentration in the cockpit on the Rally Mexico’s long special stages, which take place at high altitude and in high temperatures. Both Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila were outstanding today. They dominated the long special stages and took as much care as possible of their equipment. The slightest moment of carelessness can lead to retirement – you can soon hit a rock on the narrow roads and damage a suspension. Unfortunately Andreas Mikkelsen found that out the hard way again today. But these things happen, and are part of rallying. We will have to keep that in the back of our minds on Sunday if we want to remain in the top two positions after the final four stages. We have done really well, but have not won anything yet.”

And then there was ...

... the rally-driving lucky charm. After World Champion Sébastien Ogier had taken part in a training session with football club León ahead of last year’s Rally Mexico, the team promptly went on to win the Mexican football championship. In 2014, the tight schedule did not allow Ogier to pay ‘his’ club a visit – much to the disappointment and regret of “Club León”, who play their home matches in a stadium next to the Service Park for the Rally Mexico. On Friday evening, the team lost 0:1 at home to bottom-of-the-table Veracruz and are now a lowly fifth in the table.

Volkswagen Motorsport

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About this article
Series WRC
Article type Stage report
Tags andreas mikkelsen, jari-matti latvala, jost capito, mexico, sebastien ogier

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