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Argentina - 1-4 May 13

Posted: April 13, 2016 8:57 AM - 2954 Hits

Round 5 - 2013 World Rally Championship

Two podium places in Argentina: Volkswagen retains its WRC lead

Posted: April 13, 2016 8:57 AM

Volkswagen has celebrated another successful weekend in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), extended its lead in the drivers' and co-drivers' championship, and retained its position as the number one manufacturer. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) took second place behind record-breaking world champion Sebastien Loeb (Citroen), claiming their fifth podium place in this season's WRC after their fifth outing with the Polo R WRC. After starting the final day in Argentina in fourth position, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) fought their way into third place and contributed towards the team's success with their second podium finish of the season.

With their double victory in the final Power Stage, the two Volkswagen drivers also secured five extra points in the drivers' competition. One third into the season, Ogier/Ingrassia are now 54 points clear at the top of the drivers' and co-drivers' leader board, while Volkswagen is 14 points ahead of Citroen in the manufacturers' championship. Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) finished the Rally Argentina in eighth place under Rally 2 regulatiuons and achieved some impressive top times in their second event with the Polo R WRC.

Tiny errors make all the difference: Seb beats Seb ? Loeb ahead of Ogier

The whole rally was a thrilling battle for first place starring Sebastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC and Sebastien Loeb (Citroen). Sebastien Ogier took the lead in the overall rankings early on with best times in five stages, but lost out following a mistake. In the seventh special stage, Ogier missed a braking point, skidded off the course and had to reverse. The error cost him 40 seconds and went some way towards deciding who would win the battle of "Seb vs. Seb".

Sebastien Ogier started the last day of the Rally Argentina with a change of tactics. Instead of attacking mercilessly, the WRC leader maintained his lead over third place until the so-called Power Stage, when the three best teams are awarded extra points. Then he used his choice of tyres ? a soft Michelin compound ? to seize second position behind his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

Jari-Matti Latvala put in an untouchable final spurt on the last day of the Rally Argentina. All four stages on Saturday went to Latvala ? including the Power Stage. Like his team-mate Ogier, Latvala secured five best times. With this performance, he managed to relegate Evgeny Novikov to fourth place during the 13th and penultimate special stage.

New challenges for the Polo R WRC ? Argentina puts the cars to the test

Rough roads with violent jolts ? the Rally Argentina made different demands of the World Rally Cars than the gravel rallies which preceded it in the 2013 season. Instead of constant vibrations like the ones they endured during the last event in Portugal, the chassis of the Polo R WRCs had to absorb substantial forces. However, the construction of the 315-horsepower four-wheel drives from Wolfsburg proved just as tough and fast in the unique conditions of the Rally Argentina: the Volkswagen team won ten of the 14 special stages and bagged eight additional top-three times.

Well-oiled wheels: outstanding teamwork secures podium finishes

The Volkswagen team functioned like well-oiled wheels throughout the Rally Argentina ? from precise weather forecasts to the meticulous, reliable work of the mechanics during the eight services and the drivers' and engineers' choice of tyres. Right at the start of the rally, Volkswagen Motorsport's weather team gave the drivers a small advantage: soft tyres were the right choice for Thursday's rallying. The Volkswagen mechanics had their moment of glory on Friday, keeping the Polo R WRCs in tip-top condition with their perfectly organised service although a number of minor repairs were needed. Then on Saturday, the Volkswagen engineers helped the team to succeed on the final day with a brave but wise decision: once again, they were right to select soft tyres, and this move paved the way for Jari-Matti Latvala to secure a place on the podium and Sebastien Ogier to finish second.

Quotes following day four of the Rally Argentina

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
"Today was the best day's rallying since I joined Volkswagen. The team spirit, the car ? everything reached a whole new level today, including the driver. I'm absolutely thrilled to be standing on the podium for the first time in Argentina. Things often haven't gone that well here in the last few years, so I'm really pleased to have achieved my goal. The rally was very exciting and varied. Especially in the final phase, we gave our all to secure third place. All in all, finishing second and third is a great result for the whole team."

Sebastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
"Second place is a brilliant result in terms of the world championship and our success was down to the whole team. I need to say a special thank-you to my crew this time ? they were a great support. It was an incredibly challenging and difficult rally and my own performance wasn't entirely flawless. It's a shame that I couldn't keep fighting it out against Sebastien Loeb right to the end. I would like to congratulate him on winning. Now it's time for me to look to the future. We've got a test to do before the next rally in Greece. We'll make further improvements to the Polo R WRC then so that we can fight for first place again in four weeks' time."

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
"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."

Jost Capito, Director of Volkswagen Motorsport
"The Rally Argentina showed that the factory teams are very well matched. Every victory is hard won. Our congratulations go to Sebastien Loeb, who made the fewest mistakes here in Argentina. But we can be very happy with our performance too. As a manufacturer, it feels almost like we've won already, having consolidated our lead over our biggest rivals in all of the championships. Every single member of the team made a contribution. I'm proud of everyone. The team has put in a breathtaking performance during the first third of the season. The Rally Argentina was a constant rollercoaster ride ? pure adrenaline. There's certainly no shame in ultimately losing against the nine-times world champion with a new team like ours."

And then there was ...
... Jost Capito's first anniversary. Immediately after the Rally Argentina, he will have been Director of Volkswagen Motorsport for exactly one year. Time for the manager of the factory team from Wolfsburg to take stock: "It may not be the easiest job, but it's certainly the most exciting one if you love cars and motorsport. We have achieved something exceptional in the past year."


Posted: April 13, 2016 8:56 AM

Clear leaders going into the final day, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena controlled proceedings from the fro nt to grab their eighth win in Argentina. It was also Citroen's ninth consecutive WRC win in South America! Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished sixth in the second DS3 WRC of the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT, whilst Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio took ninth overall.

Run without any service period, this third day of racing saw the competitors take on some of Rally Argentina's most famous stages: Mina Clavero/Giulio Cesare and El Condor/Copina, each run two times. Bonus points were available on the second run on El Condor, which served as the Power Stage.

Equipped with Michelin Latitude Cross soft compound tyres, the Citroen Racing crews left Villa Carlos Paz early this morning, heading west for the stages. Armed with a relatively comfortable lead over Sebastien Ogier, Sebastien Loeb could afford the luxury of controlling his pace in the many rough, rock-strewn sections. And yet he still managed to increase the gap significantly. Winner by almost a minute, the nine-time World Champion admitted feeling a little emotional about what will undoubtedly be his last win on gravel in the WRC.

"It's pretty incredible to win Rally Argentina for the eighth time running, in front of so many passionate fans", he said on his triumphant arrival in Villa Carlos Paz. "Winning wasn't essential for me, but I really got into it when I saw that I was on the pace. Ogier was also quick, but I was a bit more consistent before pulling clear at the end of the second leg. I am pleased to win here for the team; they really deserve it."

Somewhat isolated in the overall standings, Mikko Hirvonen drove at a strong pace. His performances earned him a bonus point in the Power Stage. And his sixth place overall enabled the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team to score the same number of points as its main rival in the Manufacturers World Championship: "It was a good day, with some sunshine, lots of fans and some great stages. I had a lot of fun driving today. My pace was good, the car was perfect and it wasn't too difficult to set some pleasing times."

Tenth overall at the start of the day, Dani Sordo was one of the main movers as the rally drew to a close. Despite running second on the road, the Spaniard overtook Andreas Mikkelsen and Martin Prokop on consecutive stages. However, a gearbox problem for Sordo meant that the Norwegian fought back to retake 8th place by just 2/10ths.
"I wasn't paying too much attention to the times, because I was mainly focussed on getting the car to the finish", commented the Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT driver. "It gave me the chance to keep trying to improve my driving, especially in the slow corners."

Pleased with this second win of 2013, following the one secured at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, Yves Matton reflected on the overall result of his team.
"My overriding sense is that the rally confirmed that the performances of the DS3 WRC have progressed", emphasized Citroen Racing's Team Principal. "We have done a lot of work since Rally Mexico and that work has been repaid with the win. Obviously, an essential part of the win is Seb himself, who was back to his brilliant best despite missing the last few rallies. But I'd like to mention our other drivers too: after Dani in Portugal, Mikko showed this weekend that he was in contention to win the rally. They both still lack a bit of consistency to turn their good form into results. We're all going to work towards achieving just that."


Posted: April 13, 2016 8:55 AM

Qatar M-Sport's Evgeny Novikov narrowly missed out on a podium at Rally Argentina today. In a day-long battle, the Russian emerged in fourth place overall ? his best result from the event and equalling a season-best finish in this year's FIA World Rally Championship.

Embarking on the event's final day, the dramatic moonlike vistas provided the perfect backdrop for one of the most intense battles of the rally. With just 8.5 seconds separating Novikov and Volkswagen Motorsport's Jari-Matti Latvala going into the final leg, the Russian was not going to let his podium go without a fight.

And fight he did. Despite some time loss due to an incorrect setting within the car's 'stage mode' through the first pass of 'Mina Clavero / Giulio Cesare' (SS11), the Muscovite set an incredible time behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. With Latvala pushing hard throughout the 22.64 kilometre test, the Finn could only take a slender 0.9 seconds from Novikov's lead.

As the battle intensified ? with just a 3.4 second lead going into the second pass ? Novikov and co-driver Ilka Minor pushed hard but unfortunately had to forfeit their third place on SS13. That said, the Russian has proven he has the full package this weekend ? capable of not only driving intelligently, but also setting a sensational pace when the time calls for it.

Elsewhere, bringing their Fiesta RS WRC home in fifth place, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul equalled their best result from the Argentine event. Despite struggling to find the optimum set-up through the event's final tests, their clever approach paid dividends as the Belgians kept their noses clean, all the while gaining more vital knowledge of the car and stages.

Having been forced to Rally 2 after damaging the suspension of their Fiesta RS WRC on Day 2, Mads Ostberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson set a sensational pace yesterday ? ascending the leader board from 11th to seventh in the overall standings. With little to gain running fourth on the road, the Norwegian used the final day to take in the incredible atmosphere of the closing stages ? entertaining the thousands of enthusiastic fans in the process.

Evgeny Novikov (4th) said:
"To be honest, I think that it was all over after the third stage today [SS13]. We were pushing hard, but Jari-Matti [Latvala] took a lot of time out of us and we understood then that we should let the podium go and concentrate on getting to the end of the event.

"I backed off in the Power Stage [SS14] and maybe because of that I lost a bit of concentration and had a spin in the stage ? not because we were pushing; because I slowed down too much. But it was never our plan to fight on that stage so it wasn't too much of a drama.

"Of course it would have been nice to have come away with a podium, but fourth place is still a very good result for us on this rally. I think it was the best we could do today, and I want to thank Jari-Matti for the fight ? I really enjoyed it and I'm sure everybody else did too!"

Thierry Neuville (5th) said:
"As I said before the rally, our strategy this weekend was to have a clever event and make sure that we got to the end without any problems ? and that's what we did. It was not so easy to keep my foot away from the throttle the whole time, but it paid off and the result is a good one for us. I don't think we could have done much better.

"I wasn't so happy with the set-up today and that is something that we'll have to work on for the next events. I'm still learning with the car, so hopefully we'll have some good testing before Greece and we can work on getting that right before then."

Mads Ostberg (7th) said:
"It was a difficult start to the rally. We were struggling with the set-up on Thursday morning but we made some changes in [midday] service and it felt better straight away. Unfortunately we hit a stone which meant that we couldn't take full advantage.

"Restarting on Friday, we set a really good pace. The speed was good and the car was working really well which meant we were able to climb right back up to seventh ? so that was a good day for us.

"Today [Saturday] has been all about preserving the tyres for the Power Stage, but I couldn't really find a good rhythm. I tried to push [on the Power Stage], but I wasn't as confident as I had been the day before and had to settle for fourth.

"All in all, I think we have done some good stages, but with having to Rally 2 we weren't able to fight for a good result. We know that we have the pace, so we will be back pushing for a good result in Greece."

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"We have seen some impressive drives from our young crews this weekend with both Mads [Ostberg] and Evgeny [Novikov] capable of challenging for the podium. With Mads' stage win yesterday, he has also now taken a fastest time from all of the events this season.

"I think that we have seen a positive step in terms of all three drivers' development this weekend and I have no doubt that their time will come.

"The [Ford] Fiesta RS WRCs have also performed faultlessly all weekend. We've had 100 per cent reliability on an event which is extremely hard on the cars, so that is also a big positive for the team."


Posted: April 13, 2016 8:53 AM

M-Sport supported driver Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari dominated the WRC 2 category at Rally Argentina this weekend. Piloting their Seashore Qatar Rally Team Ford Fiesta RRC, the Qatari and co-driver Killian Duffy were in a class of their own ? taking victory by an impressive 13 minutes.

The result marks Al-Kuwari's second victory in the category following a similarly impressive performance at Rally Mexico earlier in the year. Indeed the Qatari's performance is made all the more noteworthy by the fact that this was his first venture to the notoriously difficult event.

Despite his unfamiliarity with the Argentine stages, the Qatari drove a faultless rally. Rarely challenged by his rivals, Al-Kuwari complemented his intelligent approach with sensational pace which saw him secure 11 of a possible 14 stage victories.

As the only driver to take two victories from the category thus far, Al-Kuwari now heads the Championship standings. Contesting the Acropolis Rally later this month ? an event the Fiesta driver is familiar with ? Al-Kuwari will be hoping to extend his lead.
But next up for the Qatari and his Irish co-driver is Rally Jordan as they continue their FIA Middle East Rally Championship campaign with a similar Ford Fiesta RRC.

Abdulaiz Al-Kuwari said:
"This is a very tough rally ? up until the very last kilometre you have to keep total concentration to ensure you finish. Luckily for us we had a very good lead starting today so we could afford to lose one, two, even five minutes.

"We are now leading the championship, and to be honest that's far more than we were hoping for! We spoke with Malcolm Wilson before the season and the aim was to finish in the top-five. We know we are not the fastest in the category and in Europe there are a lot of fast drivers so we will wait and see what happens in Greece.

"I would like to thank all the M-Sport mechanics for a fantastic job this weekend. Every morning they gave us a car which felt like a brand new Fiesta. It's a great pleasure for me to work with M-Sport and thanks to them, we are able to achieve results like this. I'm sure Malcolm is happy too to see his car win by so much! I also want to thank Seashore for all their support ? without them this would not be possible."

Killian Duffy said:
"It's a great feeling to be leading the Championship now. At the start of the year we said that we would be happy with a top-five finish, so to be leading with a lot more points than a number of the other competitors is a great feeling.

"Abdulaziz [Al-Kuwari] is doing a great job. Ok, we were the only regional rally car on this event but sometimes it's harder just to get to the end of the event as opposed to picking your pace. He's driven perfectly on his first time out here ? a faultless rally on a really difficult event."

Seashore Qatar Rally Team Manager, Nasser Al-Kuwari, said:
"This is our second victory in WRC 2 and we are now leading the championship so of course we are very happy with that. I particularly want to thank our sponsors and the Qatari government, because without them these victories would not have been possible. Abdulaziz [Al-Kuwari] is improving with each event and we hope to continue like this."

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"We've seen another really mature drive from Abdulaziz [Al-Kuwari] today which now sees him take the lead of the WRC 2 category. To come to an event like this ? one which is extremely hard on the cars and the crews ? and drive faultlessly is very impressive.

"Next [in WRC 2] he'll compete in Greece ? an event he has contested before ? and I'm sure he'll be able to make good use of his experience for another fantastic result.

"It's also great to see the [Ford] Fiesta RRC performing so well and taking another category win. The car has worked perfectly all weekend and it's clear to see that it's one of the most competitive in it's class."


Posted: April 13, 2016 8:46 AM

1 Loeb / Elena Citroen DS3 WRC 4:35:56.7
2 Ogier / Ingrassia VW Polo R WRC +55.0
3 Latvala / Anttila VW Polo R WRC +2:00.8
4 Novikov / Minor Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2:36.7
5 Neuville / Gilsoul Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4:40.5
6 Hirvonen / Lehtinen Citroen DS3 WRC +6:23.9
7 Ostberg / Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11:02.2
8 Mikkelsen / Markkula VW Polo R WRC +13:22.1
9 Sordo / del Barrio Citroen DS3 WRC +13:22.3
10 Prokop / Ernst Ford Fiesta RS WRC +14:07.6

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