Rally Argentina 2014


One-two victory for Volkswagen Motorsport in Argentina.


Volkswagen Motorsport achieved its best result so far at the weekend, with a one-two finish in Rally Argentina: Jari-Matti Latvala took first place, followed by his teammate and reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier in second place and Andreas Mikkelsen in a great fourth place. Volkswagen therefore scored its ninth WRC win in a row, thereby setting a new record!


A thrilling duel began to develop right from the start of the rally in Argentina, which was characterised by unrelenting weather conditions. The world champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia got off to a better start than their teammates, and succeeded in winning the first two special stages. But Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila hit back, and pole position changed hands between Latvala and Ogier another two times before the end of the first rally day. However, on Saturday and Sunday all the luck was on Latvala’s side, as he won his duel with Ogier with a tally of 8:1. With five of the 13 rallies in the season having now been completed, the battle between Ogier and Latvala is also dominating the battle for the overall WRC lead. With his win in Argentina, Latvala has reduced Ogier’s lead to 24 points in the WRC rankings.


The Norwegian Volkswagen duo Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula put in the best catch-up performance of the weekend. They had something of a setback on the first day of the rally due to an alternator belt coming loose – pure bad luck. But the pair weren’t to be disheartened and impressively fought back on Saturday and Sunday. Based purely on their driving time – in other words, disregarding their Friday penalty – Mikkelsen/Markkula would have comfortably secured a spot on the podium.

The final Power Stage, where there were bonus points up for grabs in the driver and co-driver categories for the top three duos, was once again Sébastien Ogier’s realm. On the second run of the ‘El Condor’ stage, the reigning world champion beat Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) by 10.5 seconds and his Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala by another tenth of a second. As a result, four of the six bonus points went to Volkswagen. In 18 rallies, the Volkswagen drivers and co-drivers have picked up bonus points no less than 27 times.


Sébastien Ogier: “This year’s Rally Argentina had the toughest conditions I’ve seen for a long time. The track conditions were very hard for the drivers and the cars, so I’m more than happy with having come second. Congratulations to Jari-Matti, who put in a strong performance and who deserved the win.”


Jari-Matti Latvala: “Obviously, I’m absolutely delighted to have won Rally Argentina. It’s been a fair few years since anyone from Finland won this rally. Our duel with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia was fantastic. My co-driver Miikka Anttila had a big part to play in our success, because his instructions took us safely through the occasionally very demanding stages.” 


Andreas Mikkelsen: “I’ve never been happier to have finished in fourth place. After not being able to finish the final stage on Friday due to a minor technical issue and then being given a five-minute time penalty as a result, we tried to make the best of the situation. We couldn’t have done any more than we did, and I’m very happy with what we achieved.”

Volkswagen Motorsport celebrates their ninth successive WRC victory. The video.

Rally Argentina 2014: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:41:24.8    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:42:51.7 +1:26.9  
3 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 4:47:19.5 +5:54.7  
4 A. Mikkelsen / M. Markkula 4:47:43.1 +6:18.3  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 4:49:50.6 +8:25.8  
6 R. Kubica / M Szczepaniak 4:51:32.8 +10:08.0  
7 E. Evans / D. Barritt 4:51:57.0 +10:32.2  
8 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 4:53:28.7 +12:03.9  
9 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 5:01:19.6 +19:54.8  
10 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini (WRC 2) 5:04:35.0 +23:10.2  


The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2014 Rally Argentina a second time around: every single day and every single special stage.


Click through each day’s picture gallery and watch video clips of each stage. The whole thing is rounded off with all of the pre-event reports and interviews. Happy reading!

Sunday, 11.05.2014

Volkswagen Motorsport wins the Rally Argentina and celebrates their ninth successive WRC victory. The video.

Aktuelle Bilder (27)
18:10 UHR ORTSZEIT / 23:10 Uhr MESZ

Classification after 14 of 14 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:41:24.8    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:42:51.7 +1:26.9  
3 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 4:47:19.5 +5:54.7  
4 A. Mikkelsen / M. Markkula 4:47:43.1 +6:18.3  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 4:49:50.6 +8:25.8  
6 R. Kubica / M Szczepaniak 4:51:32.8 +10:08.0  
7 E. Evans / D. Barritt 4:51:57.0 +10:32.2  
8 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 4:53:28.7 +12:03.9  
9 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 5:01:19.6 +19:54.8  
10 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini (WRC 2) 5:04:35.0 +23:10.2  

17:00 Local Time / 22:00 CEST

We’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The conditions at this Rally Argentina were the most difficult ones I’ve experienced for a long time. The road conditions were incredibly tough on the drivers and the cars, so I’m very happy with second place. I’d like to congratulate Jari-Matti, who put in a strong performance and deserved to win. I’m actually pleased that people are realising it’s not as easy to win as it might sometimes look. Julien and I gave our all throughout the weekend, but especially at the end the gravel tracks were so slippery and muddy that our only objective was to make it across the line. Mastering ‘El Condor’ in particular was a real adventure. Nevertheless, it’s always overwhelming to tackle the stage in front of so many frenetic fans. I’m looking forward to next year, when I’ll have another go at making it to the top of the podium in Argentina.”


Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Of course I’m absolutely thrilled to have won the Rally Argentina. It’s been quite a few years since a Finn won this rally. Fighting it out with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia was great. My co-driver Miikka Anttila contributed enormously to our success because his instructions safely guided us through some extremely difficult sections. We have done of lot of analysing and working on ourselves over the last few weeks and months, and it paid off here. Huge thanks go to the whole Volkswagen team too, because our Polo was always perfectly prepared and withstood the immense strain right until the end. This victory means a lot to me personally because we won this tricky rally on our own merit, which shows that we’re still a force to be reckoned with in the World Championship.”


Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“I’ve never been so delighted to finish fourth. After we failed to finish the last stage on Friday because of a technical glitch and were hit with a five-minute penalty as a result, we tried to make the best of things. We simply couldn’t have done any more and I’m really pleased with our performance. After gaining fourth place even quicker than we’d hoped on Saturday, we were a bit more cautious on Sunday. Lots of mud, thick fog – the last Special Stages were a real challenge. Nevertheless, we managed to make good a lot of time and shorten our gap to third place. All in all, we’re very satisfied.”


Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“Simply outstanding. We had set ourselves ambitious targets for this rally, but in the end we exceeded our own expectations by far. Finishing first, second and fourth is Volkswagen’s biggest success at a WRC rally to date. It might look like it was easy when you see the results, but it was hard work. Every single driver and co-driver did a fantastic job and all of them could rely on their Polo R WRCs leaving the service area in top shape every time. I’m particularly pleased about Jari-Matti Latvala’s win. It took great mental strength for him to wrestle this win away from Sébastien Ogier, who’s the reigning World Champion with good reason. He put in a fantastic performance as well. And we’ve signed a great up-and-coming driver too in the shape of Andreas Mikkelsen. We’ve known that for a long time, but he proved it to everyone at this event with the best gravel rally of his career.”

13:50 local time / 18:50 CEST

With their triumph at the Rally Argentina, Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila celebrate their tenth victory in the pinnacle of rallying. Latvala's first victory was back in 2008, when his triumph in Sweden saw him become the youngest ever WRC driver to win a rally. He went on to win in Italy (2009), New Zealand and Finland (2010), Wales (2011), Sweden and Wales again (2012). In 2013 the Finn made his debut for Volkswagen and snatched victory in Greece. This year he won in Sweden for the third time – and now he has won in Argentina. The statistics show that the Finn is on the right track. Can he win his first WRC title in 2014?


12:16 Local Time / 17:16 CEST

Only a few kilometres to go!


Keep going Jari-Matti, only a 16-kilometre special stage stands between you and victory in Argentina. The upcoming Power Stage El Cóndor is the culmination of the mud bath in gaucho country. After the penultimate special stage (Giulio Césare-Mina Clavero 2), things are still looking good for Volkswagen: Latvala has a superior lead over Sébastien Ogier, who has now reduced his speed and is erring on the side of caution. Kris Meeke (Citroën) is still in third place, Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Polo R WRC is in fourth overall.

11:25 Local Time / 16:25 CEST

“It was like driving on black ice.”


Sunday's special stages are some of the most difficult stages that many of the drivers have ever experienced.


Everyone was prepared for fog on the two special stages “Mina Clavero” and “El Condor” on Sunday. And visibility turned out to be at less than 50 metres in some places.

But on top of that, the heavy rain, which is still making its way across the mountains that are over 2000 metres high to the foothills of the Andes, has turned the special stage “El Condor” into a mud track. The name “mist of terror” turned out to be an understatement.

“That is definitely one of the most difficult stages that I have driven in my career so far. It was like driving on black ice,” said leader Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2), exhausted at the end of the stage. And team-mate Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) added: “The only aim here is to make it to the finish line.”

To compare: Jari-Matti Latvala achieved a time of 15:07.6 minutes on “El Condor”. In addition to being almost exactly two minutes slower than in 2013 in good weather conditions, Latvala's time equated to an average speed of about 64 km/h – practically a snail's pace by World Championship standards.

11:00 Local Time / 16:00 CEST

Mud king Latvala has everything under control.

Dense fog, rain-soaked muddy tracks – the Rally Argentina 2014 is not for the faint of heart. Just as well that Volkswagen driver is still proving that he has nerves of steel. The Finn had the events on the last few kilometres under control. Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen may have won the twelfth special stage (El Cóndor-Copina), but Latvala drove the second-fastest time, just 9.8 seconds slower than Hirvonen, and extended his lead over second-placed Sébastien Ogier to over a minute.

“That was no fun at all”, said Latvala referring to the most recent special stage. “The fog wasn't really the problem, it was the mud on the track that we struggled with. If it's like that on the Power Stage, I'm not going to be taking any more risks.”

09:40 Local Time / 14:40 CEST

“Jari-Matti deserves to win.”

Just don't make a mistake now Jari-Matti! After the first special stage of the day (Special Stage 11, Giulio Cessare–Mina Clavero) on Sunday, the Volkswagen driver is still on the road to victory. The Finn in the Polo R WRC may have only finished the 22-kilometre section with the third-fastest time, but he was still able to extend his lead over team-mate Sébastien Ogier. The gap now stands at over 47 seconds. Hats off to Mikko Hirvonen who delivered an outstanding performance in the difficult conditions on this special stage. The Ford driver nabbed the best time of 18:28.1 minutes in thick fog and on a rain-soaked track. Andreas Mikkelsen was 36 seconds slower and the second-fastest to cross the line.

Meanwhile, it seems that Ogier has come to terms with second place: “We didn't push it any more. I'm just trying to get the car to the finish line. Jari-Matti deserves to win.”

04:00 Local Time / 09:00 CEST

Rally Argentina's – The Fog.


Poor visibility conditions make the special stage "El Condor" to a case for strong nerves.


The Special Stage “El Condor”, which will be driven twice on Sunday is impressive when the sun is shining. The majority of the track is very narrow and is bordered by extremely unforgiving cliffs. There is the occasional wooden suspension bridge that wouldn't even be deemed safe for pedestrians in Europe. And all this at an altitude of around 2000 metres.

If there is fog on top of this, “El Condor” is really something to fear. And it is always foggy here. Particularly when it has rained, as it has done this time, and the air is extremely humid. “It's no fun driving in fog,” admitted Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1). “But it's not down to us. We just have to get on with it.” Driving slowly is not an option for the rally professionals. Ogier's secret for chasing the best time with visibility of only ten metres: “You need to trust your notes more than usual.”
Co-driver Julien Ingrassia only changes his instructions slightly when it is foggy. “Sometimes I repeat the distances between two bends if they are slightly further apart.” Apart from that it doesn't really help to clearly mark critical points on the course in the notes. “If the fog is that thick you can't see these points anyway,” said Ingrassia.

The good thing about “El Condor” is that the stage is familiar to at least the more experienced drivers who have driven it for years now. “I know some of the passages inside out now,” said leader Jari-Matti Latvala. According to his co-driver Miikka Anttila, ironically “El Condor” is one of the special stages that isn't too complicated to drive in fog. “On this stage it is practically one bend after the next, I don't have time to take a break from reading the instructions. It's more difficult when there are long straights in between. Then it's an art form getting the timing right for the instructions.”

Latvala has a similar view. “In addition to crests, long straights are particularly unpleasant with zero visibility. It's really tricky trying to find the right braking point.” The Finn admits to braking earlier in fog than when visibility is good. “It gives you a bit more of a chance in an emergency.”

Sunday: the special stages of the third day.

01:05 local time / 06:05 CEST

Saturday, 10.05.2014

17:20 Local Time / 22:20 CEST

The success story continues: after the overwhelming debut year in 2013, at the end of which Volkswagen, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed their first World Championship title, the Frenchmen are racing from one victory to the next once again this season. On the second special stage of the Rally Argentina, the Santa Catalina – La Pampa 1, the World Champions set the 150th fastest stage time of their World Rally Championship career.


When Ogier and Ingrassia also won the same stage on the second loop (Santa Catalina – La Pampa 2) in the afternoon they achieved their 151st victory since their WRC debut for Volkswagen Motorsport in January 2013 – and that's from a total of 317 special stages. On average, the French duo wins almost every other special stage (48 percent).

13:05 local time / 18:05 CEST

Rally on the rocks.

Latvala wants to avoid any unnecessary risks.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) may have returned to Villa Carlos Paz with a slight advantage over Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1), but before he headed into the lunchtime service the Finn stated that he was not planning to do battle with his team-mate. “I'm driving at my own speed,” explained the Finn, who is mainly looking to restore his self-confidence after his bad luck at the Rally Portugal. “I'll probably be a bit more careful in the two stages this afternoon.”

The general expectation is that the stage routes will be even more difficult the second time around than in the morning. In addition to the entire WRC field tearing up the track, the participants of a national rally have now also added to the wear and tear. “The biggest danger comes from the stones that are in the middle of the racing line,” said Latvala.

Sébastien Ogier can live with the narrow gap. “I knew in advance that we would lose time being the first on the course,” explained the World Champion. “It wasn't that much of an issue on the first special stage today because the track was still wet in many places. The second special stage was completely dry, which is why we lost about ten seconds.”

Ogier is convinced that he was right to be the only one of the three Volkswagen drivers to set off with only one replacement wheel on board. “The first special stage was so soft that there was practically no wear on the tyre. I really only took the replacement wheel in case I suffered a flat tyre.”

Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was also satisfied, completing the Volkswagen leading trio after two of the four stages planned for Friday. “I lost a bit of time as a result of the power steering letting me down,” said the Norwegian. After hitting a stone he had to drive about half of the 50-kilometre special stage Ascochinga – Agua de Oro with this handicap. “However, I'm still within reach of Jari-Matti and Sébastien. That's where I want to stay this afternoon.”

20:05 local time / 01:05 MESZ

A well-known song on a children's tv show in Germany translates as „1, 2 or 3? You have to decide, there are three free fields“. At the Rally Argentina, the motto for Volkswagen Motorsport is more like: 1, 2 and 3! You don't need to decide, the three places have been assigned“ - namely to World Champion Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen.

The three team-mates secured the fastest, second-fastest and third-fastest times with their Polo R WRCs on six of the ten special stages so far. Since January 2013, the Volkswagen team has pulled off this feat a total of 21 times at 18 rallies.

So far Argentina is proving to be a good circuit for Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen: A Polo R WRC has driven the best time on nine out of ten special stages: Mikkelsen won once (#9), Ogier three times (#1) and Latvala five times (#2). On Sunday there will be four more special stages to finish off the fifth rally of the year.

20:00 Local Time / 01:00 CEST

Safety first at the end of the second leg.


The Volkswagen drivers are still firmly in control of the Rally Argentina at the end of the second leg: However, on Special Stage 10, the short 6.04-kilometre Super Special Stage – Parque Temático 2, World Champion Sébastien Ogier, leader Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen didn't take any unnecessary risks.


Miserable weather conditions saw Latvala drive the third-fastest time, finishing in 5:03.5 minutes, exactly one second slower than Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), the winner of the special stage, and only 0.2 seconds after second-placed Mads Østberg (Citroën). Mikkelsen finished fifth, 0.7 seconds after Latvala, with Ogier a further 0.6 seconds behind in sixth.


Ahead of the final four special stages covering a total of 76.78 kilometres on Sunday, Latvala leads with an overall time of 3:33:19.1 hours, followed by Ogier (+31.2 seconds). Kris Meeke (Citroën) trails the World Champion by more than three minutes, ahead of Mikkelsen in fourth place.

17:15 Local Time / 22:15 CEST

Latvala celebrates hat-trick of victories.


Jari-Matti Latvala is unstoppable at the Rally Argentina. On the ninth special stage Amboy–Yacanto 2, the Finnish Volkswagen driver in the Polo R WRC #2 celebrated his third consecutive special stage victory. Lavala finished the 39.16-kilometre section with the best time of 22:48.3 minutes. Second place went to Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) with a time of 22:48.6 minutes, ahead of World Champion Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 (22:54.0 minutes).


Andreas Mikkelsen in the Polo R WRC #9 was sixth to finish the ninth special stage with a time of 23:07.1 minutes. In fourth place in the overall standings, the Norwegian managed to reduce the gap between him and Kris Meeke (Citroën) by more than 30 seconds. Latvala is still ahead of Ogier (+29.9 seconds), Meeke now trails the Volkswagen top two by more than three minutes.

16:00 Local Time / 21:00 CEST

Drama, baby, drama.


Things are really hotting up: Saturday afternoon couldn't have gotten off to a more dramatic start. Volkswagen drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier were embroiled in a fascinating duel for the best time on Special Stage 8 (San Agustín–Villa Del Dique II). It ended with Latvala just edging it - despite spinning on the track.


The Finn is still on top form. As is team-mate Ogier, however he suffered tyre damage in the final few kilometres and lost a bit of time. Particularly spectacular: There was no contact with a stone or anything similar. At the finish line the tyre tread was visibly damaged, but hadn't lost any air – a real phenomenon.


And the third man? Andreas Mikkelsen is still quick. The Norwegian drove the second-quickest time after Latvala and finished just ahead of Ogier. In the overall standings Latvala was able to extend his lead over Ogier to 24 seconds. Kris Meeke (Citroën) is in third with a clear gap, Mikkelsen is still in fourth.

13:15 local time / 18:15 CEST

Jari-Matti’s flair for sand.
Personal preferences play a major role in the battle of the Volkswagen drivers.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) have completely different views of the special stages in Argentina that have been totally washed out by the rain over the past few weeks. “The sometimes sandy, sometimes rough, nature of the track suits my driving style well,” analyzed Latvala, who extended his lead over his team-mate to 21.2 seconds on Saturday morning. “You need to know exactly when to attack and when it is better to reduce speed slightly.”

“I don't like these brutal tracks at all,” contradicted Ogier. “I can't attack because I can't find the right rhythm.” But he's doing enough to keep the competition at bay. Kris Meeke (Citroën) in third position already trails the World Champion by more than one and a half minutes.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9), who restarted on Saturday after retiring on Friday, has pulled off an amazing feat, improving his ranking by three positions in just two special stages. Despite his five-minute time penalty for the restart, the Norwegian is already in fourth again. “It's not possible to achieve any more without outside help.”

Mikkelsen had a “eureka” moment when aquaplaning in a water splash. “The track carried on to the left, but my car wanted to go right,” recounted Mikkelsen without batting an eyelid. “Fortunately there was enough space to correct at this point.”

It has been raining steadily at the foot of the Andes over lunchtime. This means that the drivers will need soft tyres for the second loop. While the softer rubber compound is becoming something of a scarce commodity for some of the competitors, the Volkswagen drivers still have a plentiful supply. “On Friday we started with used tyres from the shakedown and even drove on hard tyres in the afternoon,” said Latvala. “We have enough soft tyres for the rest of the rally.”

10:40 Local Time / 15:40 CEST

Three top times from one team.

Positions one, two and three for Volkswagen was the result of the seventh special stage at the Rally Argentina (Amboy–Yacanto). On the section that is just over 39 kilometres long, Jari-Matti Latvala snatched the best time while his team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen finished close behind in positions two and three.

“This special stage was better than the last,” said World Champion Ogier at the finish line, adding: “We didn't really get a clean line. We went for full attack instead and applied full throttle on many of the sandy sections. I think the others had a similar strategy.”

With his best time, Jari-Matti Latvala has extended his lead in the overall standings even further. He now has a 21 second advantage over Ogier. Kris Meeke (Citroën) follows in third, almost two and half minutes behind, Mikkelsen is fourth.

09:37 Local Time / 14:37 CEST

Andreas gives it some gas –
Jari-Matti extends his lead.

Andreas Mikkelsen is back – and what a comeback! After a slipped fan belt caused him to lose a lot of time on the final special stage on Friday, the Norwegian is now really going for it. It's paid off: In his Polo R WRC #9 he was the quickest man on Special Stage 6 (San Agustín–Villa Del Dique). This was Mikkelsen's 13th special stage victory for Volkswagen. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was the second quickest to cross the line, trailing Mikkelsen by 4.8 seconds.

Mikkelsen was pleased with the first 40 kilometres of the rally on Saturday: “It was a solid drive through the special stage, we didn't have any problems and we found a good rhythm,” said the happy man from Oslo.

Reigning champion Sébastien Ogier, who had the third-quickest time, wasn't quite so happy: “Things didn't go according to plan. There were lots of stones on the track so we weren't able to push as much as we would have liked. We'll try to take back the lead, but we're not going to take any unnecessary risks. It's the World Championship that's important.”

Things are looking good for Volkswagen in the overall standings: Latvala is in the lead, 18 seconds ahead of Ogier. Citroën man Kris Meeke is in third but, with a gap of 1:43 minutes between him and the top, he is quite a way behind.

09:20 local time / 14:20 CEST

A nine-month world tour.

The overseas rallies are a mammoth task for the logistics department.

Three of the rallies in the World Championship calendar are overseas – from a European point of view: Mexico, Argentina and Australia. At these events the teams make do without the complex set-up in the service park, which is common at rallies such as those in Germany, Spain or Italy. But even the reduced set-up isn't all that simple. Volkswagen Motorsport ships seven 40-foot oversized containers that contain around 82 tons of equipment around the world.

“The containers left our team base in early February and made their way to Mexico.” said logistics manager Lutz Meyer. After the WRC race there at the beginning of March the freight carried on to Carlos Paz to the Rally Argentina. That was the easy part. The next leg, heading to Australia, will be complicated – the health authorities down under are the most stringent in the world.

They are particularly concerned about the agent that triggers foot-and-mouth disease, which endangers cattle. Unfortunately this agent feels at home in the Argentinean soil. “This is why we have to be able to prove that all of our equipment is virtually sterilized,” explained Meyer. If the inspectors in the quarantine area of the Australian international port of Brisbane find even the smallest clump of earth, the equipment's onward journey to the rally in Coffs Harbour will be endangered.

While the inside of the containers is relatively easy to clean with pressurized air, vacuum cleaners, cleaning agents and, if necessary, even brushes, the four training cars, for example, pose more of a problem. For this reason, the Volkswagen Motorsport mechanics have already started preparing for the trip to Australia while the Rally Argentina is still running.
Firstly, they partially dismantled the four Golf Rs used for training in Argentina since they are no longer required. This is the only way to make sure that everything is cleaned perfectly, even behind the bumpers, in the interior or in the engine compartment. “Fortunately we are already familiar with the procedure, it's become something of a routine,” said logistics manager Meyer.     

Sometimes the Australian authorities check in completely unexpected places. The Crafter that is also in the container is fixed using wooden beams, among other things. “We need to have a certificate to prove that this wood is clean. This is why we had the beams impregnated again here in Argentina,” explained Meyer.

If all goes to plan, the seven containers will arrive in Coffs Harbour mid September, in time for the Rally Australia. From there the freight will then be shipped back to Germany, where they expect to receive the overseas equipment mid November – more than nine months after it left.

Jari-Matti Latvala dominates the second leg of the Rally Argentina and is well in the lead. The video.

Aktuelle Bilder (19)
23:25 Uhr Ortszeit / 04:25 Uhr MESZ

Classification after ten of 14 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:33:19.1    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:33:50.3 +31.2  
3 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 3:37:06.1 +3:47.0  
4 A. Mikkelsen / M. Markkula 3:39:02.1 +5:43.0  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:40:00.0 +6:40.9  
6 R. Kubica / M Szczepaniak 3:40:33.5 +7:14.4  
7 E. Evans / D. Barritt 3:41:11.1 +7:52.0  
8 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 3:41:40.0 +8:20.9  
9 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini (WRC 2) 3:49:39.7 +16:20.6  
10 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:53:54.9 +20:35.8  

20:35 Local Time / 01:35 CEST

“There are days when everything simply works.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“We did everything we could to close the gap, but Jari-Matti put in a strong performance and did a fantastic job. And unfortunately, things didn’t go all that well for us. The tread of one of our tyres came off during the eighth stage and the bits of rubber that went flying then damaged our fender. We will be looking into how that could have happened. Shortly before that, I also spun the car, which cost us some time. But all is not yet lost, as anything could still happen tomorrow, with the conditions here being so tough. Ultimately, even second place in Argentina would be a good result for me and Julien as we compete to win the WRC.”


Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Today was definitely one of my best days in the World Rally Championship, in spite of having spun the vehicle along the way. All the dramatic events show how much everyone was battling for the front position today. I have to thank Miikka for his excellent pace notes. He also did brilliantly to navigate us through the fog during the ninth stage. And the team also provided us with the perfect Polo. There are days when everything simply works like clockwork – and you have to make the most of those opportunities.”


Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“This morning, the aim for the rest of the rally was to make it into fourth place. And we made good a lot of time during the first stage of the day. From then on, I took things a little easier, but still managed to take fourth place before lunch. Fog then descended on the final long stage of the day, so I was especially careful then, to make sure I didn’t end up with a flat tyre or something worse. All in all, we halved the lead of the third-placed team and made good more than two minutes. I think we can be happy with our performance.”

20:20 Local Time / 01:20 CEST

Interval times – a blessing and a curse.


The duel between Latvala and Ogier is not for the faint-hearted.


The rally drivers are not completely cut off in the cockpit. The small monitor on the central console between the driver and co-driver connects them to the outside world just a little. It shows competitors' interval times, for example. This has been known to cause an adrenalin rush.

Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila could tell us a thing or two about this. They were doing pretty well on Special Stage 8. “The interval times showed us as being two seconds ahead of Sébastien and Julien,” said Latvala as he described this part of the Volkswagen duel. Then the Finn made a slight mistake and the Polo R WRC with car number 2 spun. “Suddenly we were four seconds behind,” remembered Anttila. At the next interval the monitor showed the two Finns as being ahead once again. “We knew that Séb must have spun too.”

But the drama didn't end there. A few kilometres later, Latvala stalled the engine, ironically in the same bend that Ogier/Ingrassia (Polo R WRC #1) spun earlier. “Then we were a few seconds behind again,” said Latvala looking back.
Next, the interval times showed that their French team-mates had slowed down. “It was at this point that we relaxed slightly,” revealed co-driver Anttila. After 40 kilometres, there was exactly three seconds between the two Polo R WRCs when they crossed the finish line. “It was definitely one of the most exciting stages of my career,” summed up Latvala.

This is where things started to go wrong for Sébastien Ogier. His reduced speed was a result of tyre damage. The rubber that shredded and span wildly at some point damaged the left wing and then the front skirt. This meant that the sophisticated cooling air supply at the front of the Polo R WRC no longer worked properly. “The engine temperature increased and the control electronics switched to the emergency programme in slow passages,” explained Ogier. Then the 1.6-litre turbo engine can only run with reduced performance. However, the Frenchman openly admitted that this was not the only reason for the gap of almost 30 seconds between him and his team-mates at the end of the second leg. “Jari-Matti drove extremely well today. Even without my problem it would have been difficult to catch him.”

Only Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) had a perfect afternoon on Saturday's leg. The Norwegian made up three places and even moved within reach of Kris Meeke (Citroën) in third. Two minutes is exactly the amount of time that tyre damage, for example, could cost and end up changing the result. However, Mikkelsen is not going to take any risks while chasing the Brit. “Kris is not my rival in the championship. It's much more important for me to finish ahead of Mads Østberg.”

Saturday: the special stages of the second day.

01:05 local time / 06:05 CEST

Friday, 09.05.2014

16:30 local time / 21:30 CEST

Good times, bad times.


What a thrilling finale to the first leg of the Rally Argentina: the drivers returned to the 51.88-kilometre Ascochinga-Agua de Oro 2 for Friday’s final stage – and the three Volkswagen drivers could hardly have had more contrasting experiences on this special stage.


World Champion Sébastien Ogier had minor problems with his #1 Polo R WRC, but still came home in an impressive second with a time of 38:15.5 minutes. Only team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was faster, courtesy of one of the finest performances of the season so far: the Finn took just 37:57.3 minutes to complete his perfect drive. Latvala’s master class also saw him replace fellow Volkswagen driver Ogier at the top of the overall standings.


In contrast, Lady Luck deserted Andreas Mikkelsen. The Norwegian’s split times were just slower than those of Latvala, until he was forced to pull over in his Polo R WRC due to a technical problem. However, Mikkelsen was not the only driver, for whom the fifth special stage came to a premature end. Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo also failed to finish. After Mads Østberg (Citroën) and Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) had already been forced to call it a day in the morning, this brought the total number of retirements on the opening leg of the Rally Argentina to five.

15:20 local time / 20:20 CEST

Trio with four victories.

The Volkswagen drivers continued to deliver strong performances after the lunch break at the Rally Argentina. On the fourth of 14 special stages, the three drivers in the Polo R WRC celebrated an impressive one-two-three. World Champion Sébastien Ogier (#1) had particular reason to celebrate after the 27.09-kilometre Santa Catalina – La Pampa 2.

The Frenchman won Special Stage 4 in 18:10.0 minutes. In doing so he regained the lead in the overall standings from Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) after his third special stage victory of the weekend. The Finn took 18:13.8 minutes (+3.8 seconds) and finished second. Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) finished directly behind (18:15.2 minutes) to complete the one-two-three.

In the overall standings, the three Volkswagen drivers are in the same order at the top. The first driver behind the wheel of anything other than a Polo R WRC is Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) in fourth place. The man from Belgium already trails leader Ogier by 36.7 seconds and is 16.3 seconds behind third-placed Mikkelsen.

11:20 local time / 16:20 CEST

Latvala snatches the lead on marathon special stage.

One of the hardest sections is over – the WRC drivers have finished the first leg of the 51-kilometre special stage Ascochinga–Agua De Oro. Things are still going well for Volkswagen: Jari-Matti Latvala pulled off a spectacular performance to post a dominant fastest time. This sees him also take the overall lead at the Rally Argentina. Team-mate Sébastien Ogier crossed the finish line a good ten slower than Latvala and is second in the overall standings. Andreas Mikkelsen is third. A bitter pill for the Norwegian: the Polo R WRC came into contact with a stone on the stage, which broke the power steering. Mikkelsen had to steer the final 20 kilometres unaided – the Volkswagen driver won't need to go to the gym for a while now...

World Champion Ogier was positive at the finish line: “The stage went well. The track was still slightly damp in some places, and then very dry in others. We lost a bit of time, but I'm pleased overall.”

The best competitor is currently Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). However, the man from Belgium had technical problems with his i20 and, despite finishing fourth, trails Latvala by 32.4 seconds.

Latvala and Ogier are embroiled in a thrilling duel for the lead on leg one. The video.

Aktuelle Bilder (10)
18:50 Ortszeit / 23:50 Uhr (MEZ)

Classification after five of 14 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:57:36.3    
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:57:54.0 +17.7  
3 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 1:58:43.7 +1:07.4  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt 2:01:24.4 +3:48.1  
5 R. Kubica / M Szczepaniak 2:01:24.6 +3:48.3  
6 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:01:48.5 +4:12.2  
7 A. Mikkelsen / M. Markkula 2:02:56.2 +5:19.9  
8 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:03:12.5 +5:36.2  
9 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini (WRC 2) 2:03:13.1 +5:36.8  
10 Y. Protasov / P. Cherepin (WRC 2) 2:05:58.3 +8:22.0  

19:30 Local Time / 00:30 CEST

“Miikka did a perfect job.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“That was the tough start to the Rally Argentina we expected. However, I am very happy with my position after the opening day. We did a good job, particularly when you see how many of our rivals have fallen by the wayside. I had a few problems with grip on the final special stage of the day. All in all, however, the day was problem-free. The Polo R WRC is on good form and reliable, despite some brutal conditions. I am not worried about the 17-second gap to Jari-Matti. I am optimistic we can make that up on Saturday. Only one thing counts here for Julien and me: we want to win the Rally Argentina!”


Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The day went well for us, particularly on the 50-kilometre plus stage. I felt right at home in my Polo and could really enjoy the route. I must say a big thank you to Miikka, who did a perfect job in the passenger seat. The setbacks that other teams have suffered only go to show just how difficult the rally is this year. Today it was very similar to the ‘Acropolis’, where it is not only important to be quick, but also only to push yourself to the limit when the route really allows it. It is obviously to lead the Rally Argentina overnight, but there is still a long way to go before we reach the finish. We will continue to focus on our job and do our best.”


Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I am obviously disappointed. I was really comfortable in the car and with my pace notes, and we had a good rhythm. We did not risk too much, but were still quick. We were right up there with the front-runners from the word go and were involved in a good battle for the top positions with our team-mates. Unfortunately the belt on the alternator came free just a few kilometres from the end of the final stage of the day. You can see from the results that the Polo R WRC is the car to beat here in Argentina. Unfortunately we were just unlucky.”

18:30 local time / 23:30 CEST

A matter of pace notes.

Better preparation the key to Latvala’s success.

The second leg of the Rally Argentina looks set to develop into an all-Volkswagen duel between Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1). The Finn leads his French team-mate by 17.7 seconds, with their closest rival – Kris Meeke in a Citroën – already over a minute back. “The gap does not make me nervous,” said Ogier on his way to the final evening service. “I lost time today, because I was first onto the route. Tomorrow, the conditions will be virtually identical for Jari-Matti and me.”

Because the starting order for tomorrow’s second leg is the reverse of the overall standings, the two Volkswagen drivers will follow at least half a dozen of their competitors onto the route.    

“If I can learn one thing from Séb, it is not to pay any attention on other drivers,” said Latvala. The Frenchman is admittedly a master when it comes to adapting perfectly to the current circumstances. If it does not feel quite right, then don’t attack – that is one of his principles.  

Latvala, who like Ogier tackled the 52-kilometre SS 5 with two hard tyres on the front axle and two of the softer compound on the rear, believes ideal preparations are the secret to the pace he found on Friday. “I changed my pace notes compared to last year,” he revealed. “When we do the Recce, I now dictate the progression and curvature of the corners in far greater detail to my co-driver Miikka Anttila.” He also had the set-up of the chassis and power train adjusted, to make his Polo R WRC more agile when turning into corners. Both of these measures have apparently allowed Latvala to be more relaxed than previously when turning the steering wheel. “I have never felt as comfortable as today.”

10:10 local time / 15:10 CEST

Plenty of drama and three Volkswagens

in positions one, two and three.

Today's opening special stage (Santa Catalina-La Pampa) had everything. The track was a washout and full of potholes as a result of the heavy rainfall in the last few days. Nevertheless, the Volkswagen drivers brought their Polo R WRCs home safely – and with the fastest time: positions one, two and three was the result for the special stage. Sébastien Ogier was unbeatable over the 27 kilometres. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala followed with a gap of 2.8 seconds, with Andreas Mikkelsen 1.6 seconds behind Latvala.

Sébastien Ogier was pleased with the result: “We noticed that this section is difficult to drive during the Recce,” reported the Frenchman. “It went better than we thought it would. Having to be the first on the track wasn't so bad after all.”

The competitors had a more dramatic start to the rally day: both Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) and Mads Østberg (Citroën) retired after accidents in the first few kilometres. Hyundai driver Dani Sordo suffered engine problems and tried to get his damaged i20 back on track.

09:05 local time / 14:05 CEST

Batten down the hatches.

Rally cars use special devices to protect themselves from the numerous water splashes.

The Rally Argentina is famous for its water splashes. The number of them at his year's event has multiplied as a result of the rainfall over the last few weeks. No-one has counted them, but estimates range from 50 to 75.

“What used to be a dry depression is now flowing with water,” said World Champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) after inspecting the course. In some places the teams will have to battle through mini lakes that are 50 metres long.

As romantic as the small streams may appear to spectators, they cause real problems for the rally cars. Crossing them at speeds of 150 means that even ten centimetres of water can be as powerful as a steam jet. The front spoiler and the front wings are most at risk and are sometimes ripped off completely.

“It's also important to avoid getting any water in the engine's intake passage,” added Franҫois-Xavier Demaison, the engineer responsible for the mechanics of the Polo R WRC. This is why the cars of Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Andrea Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) have flaps over the air filter.

It's the co-driver's job to close them before water splashes. “I've got two foot switches on my side of the car for this,” said Miikka Anttila, co-driver for Jari-Matti Latvala. “One of them electronically closes the flap in the intake passage and the other turns on the windscreen wipers.”

However, the flaps don't need to be shut for every water splash. “I've used a blue wavy line to make a note of the relevant places in my track data,” explained Julien Ingrassia, who passes on additional information to his driver Sébastien Ogier. “Some of the water splashes are very flat and can be driven across at full speed. Others have steep entrances and exits. It's here that we often need to brake heavily.”

There's still room for an element of surprise. If a depression is deeper than expected, it's sometimes down to the spectators – they like to build small dams to raise the water level and the excitement.

Friday: the special stages of the first day.

01:05 local time / 06:05 CEST

Thursday, 08.05.2014

Volkswagen Motorsport lies first, third and fifth after the opening special stage. The video.

Aktuelle Bilder (11)
18:30 Uhr Ortszeit / 23:30 Uhr MESZ

Classification after one of 14 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:51.7    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 4:54.7 +3.0  
3 A. Mikkelsen / M. Markkula 4:55.2 +3.5  
4 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 4:55.8 +4.1  
5 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:55.9 +4.2  
6 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 4:57.1 +5.4  
7 D. Sordo / M. Marti 4:58.9 +7.2  
8 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 5:01.0 +9.3  
9 J. Ketomaa / K. Lindström (WRC 2) 5:01.2 +9.5  
10 N. Fuchs / F. Mussano (WRC 2) 5:01.8 +10.1  

18:30 local time / 23:30 CEST

“We have definitely made a good start.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Four weeks without a rally is too long for a rally driver, so I am very pleased to be here in Argentina. The rally will be very demanding, that much is certain. The rain they have had here over the past few weeks has really eroded the route and made it brutal for the car and tyres. You need to be even more focussed than usual, particularly tomorrow morning, as the first two stages ‘Santa Catalina’ and ‘Ascochingo’ could decide who is going to be among the front-runners and who is not. However, Julien and I are ready and raring to take on the challenge.”


Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The first stage was very spectacular for the fans, but just a short warm-up for us. The Rally Argentina only really gets going on Friday, and I expect it to be one of the toughest challenges so far. The recent rainfall has really worn away the roads, and some of the sections have been left with very coarse surfaces. Off the racing line you can now see even more stones and rocks, which you must avoid at all costs. Another challenge is the tyre selection: with temperatures rising, it is not simple to decide between the softer and harder compounds on the Michelin tyres. As such, you have all the ingredients for an exciting and thrilling rally.”


Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Cleverness. That will be the keyword at this Rally Argentina. We saw on the ‘Recce’ that the special stages have a completely different character to last season – even though over four fifths of the route are identical. There have been a lot of storms and poor weather in recent weeks. The stages have been seriously eroded, making them very tough on the material. This means you have to find the right balance, attack where you can attack, and ease off where necessary. The first four kilometres today revealed little about what we can expect over the coming three days. However, we have definitely made a good start.”

17:00 Local Time / 22:00 CEST

Ogier rocks in Parque.


“I really want to win this rally.” Those were the words of World Champion Sébastien Ogier in the run-up to the Rally Argentina. After all, the race in the region around Cordoba is one of the few the Volkswagen driver is yet to triumph at. The Frenchman has his sights set on changing all that this weekend – and the start of the fifth rally of the year went right to plan.


Ogier, at the wheel of the #1 Polo R WRC, took just 4:51.7 minutes to complete the first of the rally’s 14 stages, the 6.04-kilometre Super Special ‘Parque Temático 1’ – leaving the opposition for dead. Mads Østberg (Citroën) was second fastest, a whole three seconds slower than the Frenchman.


Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala rounded off an impressive start for Volkswagen Motorsport. Norwegian Mikkelsen clocked the third fastest time of 4:55.2 minutes in the #9 Polo R WRC. Latvala (#2) was just seven tenths of a second slower than his team-mate, coming home fifth in a time of 4:55.9 minutes.


The Rally Argentina continues with the second special stage (Santa Catalina/La Pampa 1) on Friday afternoon (CET), when the Volkswagen drivers will continue their pursuit of win number five for the season – Ogier currently has four victories to his name, while Latvala triumphed in Sweden.

12:15 local time / 17:15 CEST

Shakedown determined by tactics.


Volkswagen trio keeps things to a minimum to go easy on tyres.

Sparing the tyres was the name of the game for Volkswagen in the shakedown ahead of Rally Argentina. All of the top drivers have to make do with 28 soft and 16 hard compound tyres, which is the opposite of what was permitted in, for example, the last event, Rally Portugal.

As a result, both Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) limited themselves to the stipulated two runs in the shakedown. Ogier went even further by having his car fitted with a combination of soft and hard tyres. “I will be the first to hit the track on Friday, which means I can’t necessarily always use four soft tyres,” explained the current overall leader. “So I wanted to find out what the combination of tyres feels like.”

Ogier achieved the fifth fastest time of 2m 32.5s, followed by Mikkelsen in sixth place with a time of 2m 32.6s. The only one of the three Volkswagen drivers to tackle the 4.59-kilometre shakedown track on the outskirts of Villa Carlos Paz three times was Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2). “My engineers asked me to try one more thing out there,” explained the Finn, who concluded the shakedown as the third fastest driver (2m 32.0s). Dani Sordo (Hyundai) achieved the fastest lap time of 2m 31.3s, but only on his fourth attempt.
The tyres are expected to play an important part in general in how the rally proceeds. The province of Córdoba is currently considerably lusher than it has been in the past few years, due to heavy rain in recent weeks. But the rain has washed away a lot of loose sand on the special stages, thereby making the tracks harder.  “The route is basically the same as in 2013. But there have been some stark changes in some parts of the track due to the rain and also roadworks. In some places, it’s hardly recognisable from last year,” reported Ogier after the sighting lap.

“One of the dangers lurking here is stones that are pulled up by the drivers in front of you and then hurled onto the track,” added Latvala. “You therefore need to be a little reserved all the way in order to be able to swerve to avoid them if necessary.”

Thursday: the special stage of the first day.

09:20 local time / 14:20 CEST


Monday, 05.05.2014

High-speed tango in the land of the gauchos.

Rally Argentina is popular among fans and drivers alike.

Spectacular scenery at altitudes of up to 2,000 metres which is sometimes reminiscent of the moon, enthusiastic fans who frequently already line the special stages during the training sessions, and incredibly demanding stages, the longest of which is just under 52 kilometres between Ascochinga and Agua de Oro in the Sierras Chicas mountains – it’s hardly surprising that Rally Argentina is a firm favourite for a lot of the drivers. “It’s definitely among my top five,” confirms Jari-Matti Latvala, for example, who is scheduled to depart from the start ramp in the popular tourist destination of Villa Carlos Paz with his Polo R WRC with start number 2 on Thursday (22:35 CEST).

This year’s rally comprises 14 special stages measuring a total of 405 kilometres, making it longer than the majority of the WRC rallies. And the three legs of the rally vary greatly: Friday’s action will be based on the bumpy gravel tracks in the Punilla Valley to the north of Córdoba, Saturday’s surface will be comparatively soft as the drivers pick up the pace on the special stages near Santa Rosa de Calamuchita in the south, and on Sunday it will be the turn of the classic special stages in the Andes. And with Argentina being in the southern hemisphere where it is currently autumn, there could even some snow to contend with. The large number of watersplashes are also characteristic of this rally.

Only a few changes have been made to the route in comparison to previous years. The legendary ‘El Condor’ stage, which is named after the local bird of prey, once again features as a Power Stage with bonus points up for grabs. Meanwhile another classic, the ‘Giulio Césare–Mina Clavero’ stage, goes back to being a downhill stage for the first time since 2002.

As test drives outside of Europe are not permitted, Volkswagen Motorsport used a test conducted on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia primarily with Rally Italy in mind to also prepare for the Argentinian event.

The test session involved all three drivers, Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen in particular had to grit his teeth – the Norwegian, who is one of the stars of the next series of the action sport documentary Wild Ones scheduled to be broadcast on the German TV channel ProSieben from 6 May, was still getting over a bout of the flu.

While the route of the rally has barely changed, one thing that will most definitely be new this year is the name of the winner – none of the field of starters has won Rally Argentina before.

Friday, 02.05.2014

“I really want to win this rally.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“We all spent time on Sardinia preparing for the Rally Argentina. The sandy surface there is similar to what we will encounter in South America. Although the surface in Argentina is a little softer, we learned a lot from the tests. I have never won the Rally Argentina. I came close in 2011 and just missed out last year too. That makes me all the more determined to win in Argentina. The itinerary is almost identical to 2013, which could be a slight advantage for us. Despite this, a gravel rally can change dramatically from one year to the next. For this reason, we will be particularly focussed during the Recce, in order to include the many minor changes in the pace notes.”


Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am looking forward to Argentina. I claimed my first podium for Volkswagen there last year. The rally suits my driving style, but is not easy for the drivers. If you’re not careful, you can hit a large stone as soon as you push yourself to the limit – particularly on the second loop. As such, you always have to give yourself a little breathing space, in order to be able to react quickly if necessary. I would be very happy with a podium finish. Compared to last year, the majority of the special stages are unchanged. There are only minor alterations. Only ‘Mina Clavero’ on the final day will be driven in the opposite direction to last year. That is completely new to us, and will be a challenge. We did not have the best of times in Portugal. The key now is not to make any more mistakes and perform as consistently as we did at the first three rallies of the year.”


Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“It feels good to travel to a rally that I already know very well from the previous two years. I was involved in a long running battle with Sébastien Ogier in a Škoda Fabia Super 2000 in 2012. Last year we pushed the car a bit too hard in the quest for fast times, but were still able to fight our way back into the points on the final day. While individual results were not necessarily the priority in my first season in the Polo R WRC, I would like to improve this year. In terms of Argentina, that means completing the rally without any major incidents and finishing as near the top as possible. The closing Power Stage will quite literally be a highlight: the start of ‘El Cóndor–Copina’ is the highest point on the Rally Argentina. From there we plunge down winding roads into the valley. I am particularly looking forward to that, as it demands courage and precision at the wheel.”

Tuesday, 29.04.2014

“Julien is highly reliable.”


Best friends since school. Boris Moulaire and Julien Ingrassia have known each other for nearly 20 years and once even built a rally car together. In our interview, Moulaire, who comes from France, talks about Ingrassia’s long hair, shared leisure activities and more.

Boris, how long have you known Julien and how did you become acquainted?
We’ve now known each other for the best part of 20 years. We went to the same school in Aix-en-Provence, Lycée Vauvenargue, and a mutual friend introduced us.

What has been your funniest shared experience?
Careerwise, that would have to be the championship presentation ceremony in Alsace last year. Otherwise, it would be the day when he cut his long hair. It must have been around 2000, and I was one of the first people to see him with his new haircut. We all couldn’t help smiling a bit.

What are Julien’s special qualities? What makes him stand out?
That’s got to be his talent for organisation and is excellent ability to anticipate things. Julien is highly reliable, and is someone you can count on. He also always thinks about others, is sociable and highly communicative.

You built your own rally car as a private project and chose Julien as your co-driver. How did that come about and how were your first rallying endeavours?
We always used to talk about rallying a lot, as it’s a mutual passion of ours. But when I put together my car back then, Julien never intimated that he was interested in being my co-driver. When he was acting as someone else’s co-driver in a rally where I was an assistant, I then asked him whether he wanted to be my co-driver. Our first rally was the Ronde de la Durance in the south of France. It has a traditional rally format lasting two days, with a dozen special stages.

As a professional rally co-driver, Julien has a busy schedule. Do you manage to find the time to nonetheless get together occasionally? If so, what do you like to do the most?
Yes, we get together whenever possible. Sometimes, we meet up spontaneously for a weekend or for an evening here in Aix-en-Provence or wherever is convenient. We try to always spend the summer and Christmas holidays together, when we rent a big house somewhere in France for our families, kids and friends. There’s then usually about twelve of us. Our main activities when on holiday are sport, enjoying good food and having a siesta. And occasionally also enjoying a good beer together.