Rally Portugal 2013

 

Third consecutive victory in four WRC rallies.

The second gravel rally of the year rewarded Volkswagen Motorsport with their third win in a row. Once again, the star of the show was Sébastien Ogier, who kept Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) in second place. Ogier’s team colleague Jari-Matti Latvala made it onto the podium for the first time by finishing third, while Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Motorsport II) finished in sixth place in his debut in a Volkswagen Polo R WRC.

The winner of the rally, Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8), was, himself, a little taken aback by how well he ultimately did in the rally. “I was quite ill when I arrived on Monday, and I somehow managed to just about make it through the training. But then everything went really well in the rally itself.”

There were times during the rally when it didn’t look good at all for Volkswagen. Although Ogier and Latvala comfortably dominated the first two legs and were first and second in the overall rankings, the first time checks in the xxx special stage really put the wind up everyone involved. All of a sudden, the four-wheel drive failed in both of the Polo R WRC vehicles, causing the chances of what had appeared to be a certain victory to rapidly fade. Ogier was able to maintain his position, but Latvala conceded two places to Hirvonen.

Fortunately, the vehicles’ technical defects were soon repaired, allowing both drivers to ultimately make it onto the podium. As a result, Volkswagen Motorsport moved into the lead in the WRC manufacturers’ standings. In the drivers’ standings, Sébastien Ogier has a comfortable lead, with 102 points compared with Mikko Hirvonen’s 48.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) also looked back positively on the rally, having finished in third place. “It’s a huge relief to have finally made it onto the winners’ rostrum with Volkswagen. The one thing that bothers me slightly is that it’s a Frenchman winning all the rallies again. And I thought the French revolution was over,” he said, jokingly referring to the dominance of Sébastien Loeb over the last nine years. “The Finnish revolution is having trouble getting off the ground,” he added.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) and his co-driver Mikko Markkula (Finland) also produced an impressive performance on their competitive debut in the Polo R WRC (#9). Only the pace notes, which are now prepared in English, posed a few minor problems. “I dictated too much information,” explained Mikkelsen. “On the quick sections, Mikko can hardly read the notes fast enough and I cannot process everything I hear over the intercom.” Sixth place overall on their first outing in Portugal is a great result for the newly-formed team.

Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen brand, emphasised: “I was really impressed with the way the team worked towards the victory and how delighted they were when they achieved it. The cooperation within the team as a whole is simply excellent and serves as a major support for our drivers, who have done extraordinarily well.”


Team triumph in Portugal
Sunday. The video.


Rally Portugal 2013: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:07:38.7    
2 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 4:08:36.9 +58.2  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:11:43.2 +4:04.5  
4 E. Novikov / I. Minor 4:13:06.4 +5:27.7  
5 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini 4:15:22.2 +7:43.5  
6 A. Mikkelsen / M. Markkula 4:17:18.5 +9:39.8  
7 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 4:22:42.9 +15:04.2  
8 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 4:23:22.3 +15:43.6  
9 K. Al Qassimi / S. Martin 4:23:35.6 +15:56.9  
10 E. Lappi / J. Ferm (WRC2) 4:23:59.7 +16.21.0  

Impressions

The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2013 Rally Portugal 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, 14.04.2013



21:00 (CET)

Better than expected: Volkswagen Motorsport

surprised by its own success.

Volkswagen Motorsport has taken the lead in the manufacturers’ standings of the World Rally Championship following Rally Portugal. “We couldn’t have imagined being at the top of the leader board after just four rallies before the season kicked off,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. Rally Portugal itself was as tough as expected, though. “We had our first few technical problems,” Capito let slip. “But our drivers and the Polo R WRC demonstrated their world-class calibre, as did the entire team behind the scenes.”

The winner of the rally, Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8), was, himself, a little taken aback by how well he ultimately did in the rally. “I was quite ill when I arrived on Monday, and I somehow managed to just about make it through the training. But then everything went really well in the rally itself.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) also looked back positively on the rally, having finished in third place. “It’s a huge relief to have finally made it onto the winners’ rostrum with Volkswagen. The one thing that bothers me slightly is that it’s a Frenchman winning all the rallies again. And I thought the French revolution was over,” he said, jokingly referring to the dominance of Sébastien Loeb over the last nine years. “The Finnish revolution is having trouble getting off the ground,” he added. But if he has his way, this should be rectified during Rally Argentina at the latest: “I then intend to be driving towards victory.”


19:20 (CET)

“What a rollercoaster ride!”

Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7


“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. Our mechanics did a perfect job of replacing the broken driveshaft on Sunday. As always, they were totally dependable – thank you.”


 


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8


“Unbelievable. What a rollercoaster ride here in Portugal! I am overjoyed with the win. First the illness, then the brutal stages, which really push a rally car to the very limit. When we had the problem with the power transmission on this morning’s opening stage, I thought: ‘That’s it Séb. The rally is over.’ Fortunately we made it to the service and the guys did a fantastic job there. I think we really deserved the win.”

 



Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9


“I learned something on every single 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. My pace notes were too detailed, particularly on fast sections. It was too much for Mikko to read them out, and for me to process them. We will work on that. All in all, however, I am very happy with my debut for Volkswagen. I received great support from the team, and would like to thank them for that.”


16:00 (CET)

Third victory in a row:
Ogier wins the Rally Portugal.

Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) has won the Rally Portugal. “I wouldn’t have believed that was possible on Monday, when I was still pretty ill. This is a fantastic win,” said the delighted Frenchman after his third World Championship victory in a row. “That was really hard work, and we had to fight for every single second,” added co-driver Julien Ingrassia. The duo was not to be denied the spectacular finish it deserved, turning on the style to win “Almodovar 2” – at 52 kilometres the longest special stage of the year so far, and the “Power Stage” at the Rally Portugal. Ogier was rewarded for this success with an additional three World Championship points. With a total of 28 points, he has extended his lead at the top of the World Championship standings.


Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) ended the rally in third place. The Finn had started Sunday’s final leg in second, but was forced to surrender this position to Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) as a result of a broken driveshaft. “I am overjoyed to be on the podium for the first time in the Polo R WRC,” beamed Latvala. “I hope to be able to challenge for the win at the next round of the World Championship in Argentina.”


Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) and his co-driver Mikko Markkula (Finland) also produced an impressive performance on their competitive debut in the Polo R WRC (#9). Only the pace notes, which are now prepared in English, posed a few minor problems. “I dictated too much information,” explained Mikkelsen. “On the quick sections, Mikko can hardly read the notes fast enough and I cannot process everything I hear over the intercom.” Sixth place overall on their first outing in Portugal is a great result for the newly-formed team.


The result at the Rally Portugal sees Volkswagen Motorsport move to the top of the standings in the Manufacturers’ World Championship.


Final classification after 15 of 15 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:07:38.7    
2 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 4:08:36.9 +58.2  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:11:43.2 +4:04.5  
4 E. Novikov / I. Minor 4:13:06.4 +5:27.7  
5 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini 4:15:22.2 +7:43.5  
6 A. Mikkelsen / M. Markkula 4:17:18.5 +9:39.8  
7 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 4:22:42.9 +15:04.2  
8 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 4:23:22.3 +15:43.6  
9 K. Al Qassimi / S. Martin 4:23:35.6 +15:56.9  
10 E. Lappi / J. Ferm (WRC2) 4:23:59.7 +16.21.0  

14:30 (CET)

Volkswagen trio heads into finale

on back of impressive performance.


The three Volkswagen drivers completed the penultimate special stage of the Rally Portugal without taking any unnecessary risks, thus consolidating their excellent positions going into the final stage of the event. Sébastien Ogier, at the wheel of the #8 Polo R WRC, completed SS 14 in exactly the same time as his closest rival Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën), maintaining his 49.3-second lead over the Finn in the overall standings.


Jari-Matti Latvala was 2.8 seconds quicker in the #7 Polo R WRC. This was enough to secure second place on the 14th special stage behind Mats Østberg (Ford) and tighten his grip on third place overall. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was eighth fastest and remains sixth at the Rally Portugal.


This afternoon’s final special stage sees the drivers return to tackle the 52.3-kilometre “Almodovar” for the second time.


Latvala sees funny side of technical problem.

 

The midday service break lasts exactly 30 minutes. The Volkswagen Motorsport mechanics have precisely that amount of time to repair the two Polo R WRCs belonging to Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. “I noticed on the way to SS 12 that the clutch was slipping,” reported Ogier. “That persisted throughout the first ten kilometres of the stage. Then everything suddenly returned to normal.” The Frenchman was even able to clock the second fastest time on the next special stage, defending his lead in the process. With another 70 kilometres of special stage still to come this afternoon, the team is still planning to change the gearbox as a precaution.

 

The technicians are also focussing on the power train on Jari-Matti Latvala’s car. “From about three kilometres into SS 12 I only had rear-wheel drive,” said the Finn. He is still able to see the funny side, however. “Back home, I actually compete in rallies in vintage cars with rear-wheel drive, so I am used to cars with so much oversteer. If there were a prize for cars with rear-wheel drive at the Rally Portugal, I would definitely be leading.” Latvala is third, behind Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) going into the final two stages. Neither Ogier nor Latvala need be overly concerned. The well-rehearsed mechanics at Volkswagen Motorsport usually have no problem changing a gearbox within 30 minutes.


Latvala hangs on to third place, Ogier extends his lead.
 
Sébastien Ogier bounced back in style in his #8 Polo R WRC on the thirteenth special stage, finishing second behind Mats Østberg (Ford) to extend his overall lead over Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) at the Rally Portugal. The Frenchman was not taking any risks on the 52.3-kilometre “Almodovar” stage and finished 11.4 seconds ahead of his closest rival with a time of 33:22.0 minutes. The Volkswagen driver now leads Hirvonen by 49.3 seconds going into the final two special stages.
 
Jari-Matti Latvala had major problems with the power train on his #7 Polo R WRC. Despite this, the Finn successfully guided his car to the finish and held Evgeny Novikov at bay to defend his third place overall. The Russian Ford driver is now 41.4 seconds behind Latvala. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) produced another fine performance to finish sixth on SS 13. The Norwegian remains sixth with two stages to go.
 
The teams are now busy with the midday service, before the drivers return to tackle the morning’s stages for a second time. The second run of the “Almodovar” stage is classed as the “Power Stage”, on which additional world championship points are up for grabs.


Ogier defends overall lead.

 

Sébastien Ogier, at the wheel of the #8 Polo R WRC, has maintained his overall lead after the opening stage of the third leg of the Rally Portugal. Although the Frenchman had problems with his car and had to settle for ninth place on the 21.52-kilometre SS 12, the Volkswagen driver still holds a comfortable lead at the top of the overall standings. However, his closest rival is now Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën), who is 37.9 seconds back. The Finn moved ahead of his compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala in the #7 Polo R WRC on Sunday morning, after the Volkswagen man also endured problems with his car. Both teams were striving to solve the problem with the tools carried on board on the way to SS 13. “I can’t say yet whether it will work,” said Ogier. Service is permitted again after this stage.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Polo R WRC (#9) finished an excellent fifth on SS 12. The Norwegian remains sixth overall going into the 52.3-kilometre “Almodovar” stage – one of the longest special stages the drivers will face in the entire season.

 

 



Saturday, 13.04.2013


Last pictures (20)
last update: 23:55 (CESt)


Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“I really enjoyed today – the stages were great fun. We had a nice duel with Mikko Hirvonen and managed to considerably extend our lead, even though we lost a bit of time in the last stage of the day because of a puncture. To be honest, I spent most of today looking behind me instead of in front of me. Of course I’d like to fight it out with Sébastien, but given that the season didn’t get off to such a good start for me, I’m more worried about securing a place on the podium than winning outright. It’s also important for the team that we both make it to the finishing line to get Volkswagen as many points as possible in the constructors’ championship.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“I really gave my all today. My team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo put me under an awful lot of pressure this morning. If we make it across the finishing line tomorrow and are still in the front, it will have been a perfect rally for us. Today it was really hard work out there. I’m already feeling better today than I did yesterday, especially this afternoon, even though I’m still not at one hundred per cent fit. And tomorrow will be probably the toughest day of the rally. I don’t have to win at any cost, but on the other hand I’m one hundred per cent competitive and I always want to cross the line first.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“We’re still on a steep learning curve and we keep gaining valuable experience with every metre. The engine performance isn’t the only thing which is worlds away from what I’m used to from the Super 2000 Škoda – the Polo R WRC’s aerodynamics are impressive too. I’m still a long way off making the most of the WRC’s potential, especially on fast bends, where I could keep up a lot more speed. On top of that, my pace notes contain too much information – we need to keep them simpler in future. Everything is just so much faster with the Polo R WRC. But all in all, we’re moving in the right direction stage by stage.”


A perfect day for the Volkswagen trio.

 

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.


The first day of rallying saw a hotly contested duel between Sébastien Ogier and Dani Sordo (Citroën), but this came to an end when the Spanish driver skidded off the track in the first special stage on Saturday. For his part, Jari Matti Latvala fought it out with Mikko Hirvonen in the second factory Citroën. However, he succeeded in keeping a comfortable distance from his compatriot. “I had a slow puncture in the front left tyre during the first special stage,” explained Latvala. Nevertheless, he was 33.7 seconds ahead of Hirvonen at the end of the day.


In the third Polo R WRC (#9), Andreas Mikkelsen continued to play catch-up during the day two of the rally. By the evening, the Norwegian driver had managed to climb to sixth place in the overall standings. The last day’s rallying on Sunday consists of just four special stages, but they are not to be underestimated. Drivers will tackle the 52-kilometre stage “Almodovar” – one of the longest special stages in the whole season – not once but twice.


Classification after 11 of 15 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:36:55.1    
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:37:29.9 +34.8  
3 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:38:03.6 +1:08.5  
4 E. Novikov / I. Minor 2:41:19.0 +4:23.9  
5 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini 2:43:14.3 +6:19.2  
6. A. Mikkelsen / M. Markkula 2:44:17.4 +7:22.3  
7 D. Kuipers / R. Buysmans 2:45:24.1 +8:29.0  
8. E. Lappi /J. Ferm (WRC2) 2:47:44.1 +10:49.3  
9. K. Al Qassimi / S. Martin 2:48:05.0 +11:09.0  
10. M. Prokop / M. Ernst 2:48:05.1 +11:10.0  

Ogier and Latvala pull away from rest of field.


Volkswagen’s dominance of the Rally Portugal continues. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) once again finished ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) to win SS 9. The Frenchman lost a wing mirror on the 31.12-kilometre route, but still clocked easily the fastest time of 22:02.7 minutes. Team-mate Latvala came home 4.6 seconds behind the championship leader. Third-placed Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) was a further ten seconds behind his fellow Finn Latvala. Another great performance from the two Volkswagen drivers saw them extend their lead at the top of the overall standings. Ogier leads with a time of 2:05:28.2 hours, ahead of Latvala in second place (+18.7 seconds). The Volkswagen pair are now well clear of Hirvonen, who now finds himself almost a minute behind Ogier (+52.3 seconds).

 

Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Polo R WRC (#9) also continued to climb the overall standings. Seventh place and a time of 22:49.9 minutes on SS 9 saw the Norwegian improve one position to seventh place.

 


14:00 (CET)

Volkswagen duo defends one-two:
Ogier leads ahead of Latvala after SS 8.


Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) produced an impressive performance to defend their positions at the top of the overall standings going into the midday break on day two of the Rally Portugal. The two Volkswagen works drivers won all three of the morning’s special stages, with Latvala claiming two stages to his team-mate Ogier’s one. “I can feel, on these long special stages, that I am still not 100 per cent fit,” admitted Ogier, who arrived in Faro still trying to shake off a bout of flu. Latvala, on the other hand, was on top form. “I am feeling more and more at home in the Polo R WRC,” said the Finn, who only joined Volkswagen Motorsport at the start of the year. “It is already almost perfect in the quick sections.”


With eight of the 15 special stages behind him, Ogier now leads Latvala by 14.1 seconds. Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) in third place is a further 37.2 seconds back. Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Polo R WRC (#9) has improved to eighth place overall.


Latvala moves into second:
Volkswagen Motorsport one-two at the head.


Volkswagen works driver Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) kicks off day two of the Rally Portugal with a stage win. Dani Sordo started the morning in second place, but technical problems for the Citroën driver, coupled with Latvala’s excellent performance, resulted in the Spaniard losing time and Latvala moving up a place.

 

Team-mate Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) still leads, giving Volkswagen Motorsport a one-two at the head of the field. Ogier holds a 10.3-second advantage over Latvala. Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Polo R WRC (#9) climbed to ninth place overall at the end of the dramatic sixth special stage.

Friday, 12.04.2013


Last pictures (28)
Last Update: 23:40 Uhr (MEZ)


Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7


“We made a cautious start to the morning and opted for a mixture of hard and soft tyres to start with. We switched to all hard tyres from the second stage on. I felt happier the second time we took on the morning’s two stages. We are happy with third place and our goal is to defend our position in the top three.”

 



Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8


“It was a good day for us, even though our tyre selection was not absolutely spot on. The soft tyres were only of benefit on this morning’s opening stage, when it was slippery. The rest of the stages, particularly the second stage, were brutal for the car. Physically, I still don’t feel one hundred per cent fit.”

 



Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9


“It is simply fantastic to drive this car. The Polo R WRC has a lot more power than the rally cars I have driven recently. The most important thing at this rally is to get used to that. Unfortunately we did not have any power steering from one kilometre into the fourth special stage. We found a leak and managed to fix it in time for the final stage. Tomorrow we will be the first car out on the route, which will definitely not make things any easier. However, we are here to learn – and that goes with the territory.”


Ogier leads at end of first leg –
team-mate Latvala third after five special stages.


Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) leads the Rally Portugal after the first leg. The Frenchman clocked the second-fastest time on the closing Super Special Stage in Lisbon to extend his lead over Dani Sordo (Citroën) to 4.4 seconds. Ogier’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) follows in third place, another seven seconds back. Latvala’s time on the 3-kilometre circuit around the world famous Hieronymites Monastery was sufficient to keep his compatriot Mikko Hirvonen (Citroën) at bay. 4.8 seconds now separate the two Finns.


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) performed emergency repairs to his power steering on the way to the Portuguese capital, having suffered a fault on SS 4. “That proved to be enough for the short stage,” said the Norwegian, who is making his first WRC start since 2007 in Portugal. “However, I am pleased that my mechanics will now have time to sit down and analyse the problem.” Mikkelsen is 14th overnight.


Six gravel stages with a total distance of about 158 kilometres are scheduled for Saturday at the Rally Portugal, with SS 6 due to start at 11:09 CET.


Classification after 5 of 15 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 0:49:33.0    
2 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 0:49:37.0 +4.4  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 0:49:44.4 +11.4  
4 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 0:49:49.2 +16.2  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 0:50:03.7 +30.7  
6 E. Novikov / I. Minor 0:50:50.0 +1:17.0  
7 N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini 0:51:49.4 +2:16.4  
8 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 0:52:00.9 +2:27.9  
9 M. Kosciuszko / M. Szczepaniak 0:52.10.1 +2:37.1  
10 D. Kuipers / R. Buysmans 0:52:21.7 +2:48.7  

15:30 (CET)

Ogier retains his lead –
bad luck for Andreas Mikkelsen.

Volkswagen works driver Sèbastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) leads the Rally Portugal after four gravel stages on day one. The Frenchman was the only one of the top drivers to start the day with four soft and two hard tyres. The majority of his rivals opted for the combination of four of the harder compound and two softs. “My tyre selection was definitely not ideal, but I am very good at looking after my tyres,” said Ogier, who holds a slender lead of just 2.4 seconds over Dani Sordo (Citroën) at the end of SS 4.


With just the 3.3-kilometre show stage on the streets around the centre of Lisbon to come on day one, team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) is in third place, 11.3 seconds behind leader Ogier. “I already have a few ideas as to how we can alter the chassis set-up for tomorrow,” said the Finn.


Andreas Mikkelsen, at the wheel of the third Polo R WRC (#9) was hit by misfortune. A problem with his power steering cost him about two and a half minutes.

 

Having taken the lead on SS 1, Ogier temporarily lost it to Mads Østberg. However, the Norwegian rolled his Ford on SS 3 and was unable to complete the stage.


Happy birthday, Carlos Sainz!

Carlos Sainz celebrates his 51st birthday today – and we would like to wish “El Matador” all the best. The Spaniard is a rally legend, winning pretty much everything in the sport. Find out more about the charismatic Spaniard, who has been a dominant figure at the wheel of rally cars all over the world since he turned 18.


Portrait: Carlos Sainz


Ogier opens Rally Portugal with fastest time –
tyre tactics the big issue.

Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier made the perfect start to the Rally Portugal. The World Championship leader opened day one of the fourth event of the year with the fastest time. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was about ten seconds slower than his fellow Volkswagen driver in fourth place. Andreas Mikkelsen ended his maiden special stage in the Polo R WRC with the ninth fastest time.


With some sections of the route still damp in the morning, but summery weather expected over the course of the day, tyre tactics are set to play a major role. A maximum six tyres are permitted for the opening leg’s five special stages (total length of almost 81 kilometres). As well as the distance against the clock, the cars must also cover about 690 kilometres of liaison stages on public roads.


While Ogier started the first special stage on four soft tyres, with two of the harder compound as spares in the boot of his Polo R WRC, team-mate Latvala opted for a different strategy. The Finn kicked off his campaign in Portugal on two soft and two hard tyres, with a further two hard tyres in reserve.


Interview: Jari-Matti Latvala
and the tuning of his Polo R WRC.


Jari-Matti Latvala is a straight talker. He says it like it is, including when he himself is the subject matter. “I’m still trying to adapt my driving style to the character of the Polo R WRC,” said the Finn before the start of Rally Portugal. And it’s not just his personal style that’s in need of a change – he is also hoping for some support with the technology. “My problem is the power train,” he explained. “When I brake, the way in which the differential in the front axle responds isn’t quite right for me.” During testing in Portugal, Latvala and his engineer developed a new differential balance that suits him better.


However, the WRC technical regulations are an obstacle to this quick solution. In order to keep the costs down, all the factory-backed vehicles have to compete in a certain set of rallies using one and the same power train, which may not be altered during this period. The first of these sets of rallies comprises the WRC rounds in Sweden, Mexico and Portugal. “This means I can’t use a different differential balance until we get to Rally Argentina,” says Latvala, looking ahead hopefully to the next event.


Something else that came to light incidentally is that the rally drivers seemingly have very different methods of braking for a corner: “Sébastien has a different way of braking for a corner and is more than happy with the tighter differential,” explained Latvala. “But changing the car’s tuning is more efficient than me changing my driving style which has taken years to develop.”


Ogier retains his lead –
Bad luck for Andreas Mikkelsen..

Volkswagen works driver Sèbastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) leads the Rally Portugal after four gravel stages on day one. The Frenchman was the only one of the top drivers to start the day with four soft and two hard tyres. The majority of his rivals opted for the combination of four of the harder compound and two softs. “My tyre selection was definitely not ideal, but I am very good at looking after my tyres,” said Ogier, who holds a slender lead of just 2.4 seconds over Dani Sordo (Citroën) at the end of SS 4.


With just the 3.3-kilometre show stage on the streets around the centre of Lisbon to come on day one, team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7) is in third place, 11.3 seconds behind leader Ogier. “I already have a few ideas as to how we can alter the chassis set-up for tomorrow,” said the Finn.


Andreas Mikkelsen, at the wheel of the third Polo R WRC (#9) was hit by misfortune. A problem with his power steering cost him about two and a half minutes.


Having taken the lead on SS 1, Ogier temporarily lost it to Mads Østberg. However, the Norwegian rolled his Ford on SS 3 and was unable to complete the stage.

Thursday, 11.04.2013


Current Pictures (20)
Last update: 23:51 (CET)


Ogier chooses to start from position twelve.
Why the front-runners are at the back in the WRC.

Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier, who came second in the Rally Portugal qualifying session, has chosen to start from position twelve in the first leg of the rally (Friday from 09:58 CET). His team colleague Jari-Matti Latvala will start one place ahead of him in the fourth round of the 2013 WRC season, while Andreas Mikkelsen will start in sixth place. There will be 13 drivers lining up for Rally Portugal, all from teams backed or supported by factories. These were the only drivers allowed to take part in the qualifying session. As the fastest qualifier, Dani Sordo of Spain earned the right to be the first to choose his starting position – and he unsurprisingly opted to go last.

Unlike in Formula 1, the WRC drivers try to start as far back in the field as possible when competing in a gravel rally, because each driver involuntarily serves as a road sweeper for all of the subsequent competitors on the loose track surface. The ideal line becomes more apparent and therefore also quicker with every vehicle that goes round the track – as long as the conditions are dry, at least. In the following legs, the starting positions are determined automatically on the basis of the previous day’s results, again with the first-placed driver going last and so on.


“Very happy with the result”:
Quotes after qualifying.

 



Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7


“We had a good run in qualifying, without any major mistakes. I was possibly a little too cautious at a few points, and that might have cost us a few tenths of a second. We could probably have done better than third, but generally speaking I am happy. My goal, having failed at the first three rallies, is to finish on the podium.”



 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8


“I am very happy with the qualifying result, as I am unfortunately still not one hundred per cent fit. I felt a little better this morning, and just hope I continue to improve day by day. Whatever happens, the Rally Portugal will be a big challenge, but we will do our best.”

 



Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9


“It is fantastic to be back in the WRC. It is a long time since my last race in a World Rally Car back in 2008. The Rally Portugal is certainly not the easiest way to start the season. I am happy with qualifying. I could have been going a few tenths quicker, but I didn’t want to risk too much, as the qualifying stage has a few tricky corners.”

 


Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director


“Compliments to all three of our Volkswagen drivers. The produced a good team result in qualifying today. Despite being under par, Sébastien Ogier was fully focussed today and came home in second place. Hats off. Jari-Matti Latvala showed that he is on a par with his team-mate. Andreas Mikkelsen can also be pleased with his first qualifying for us and his competitive debut in the Polo R WRC.”


Sébastien Ogier comes second

in qualifying session.

 

The start of Rally Portugal has gone according to plan – or at least almost – for the Volkswagen Motorsport team. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia came second in the qualifying session, one place ahead of their team colleagues Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila. Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Mikko Markkula, who will be lining up in the Polo R WRC for the first time in Portugal, achieved the eighth fastest time over the approximately five-kilometre gravel special stage.

 

Previews

Wednesday, 10.04.2013


Andreas Mikkelsen: youngest driver ever

to win a WRC point and two-time IRC champion.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway had his debut in the FIA World Rally Championship at the tender age of 17 – and managed to make a name for himself in the history of rallying right at the start of his career, becoming the youngest driver to have ever picked up championship points when he came fifth in Rally Sweden in 2008. It goes without saying that this success really spurred Mikkelsen on and he went on to hone his driving skills and style that same year under the auspices of two-time rally world champion Marcus Grönholm.


And he was soon reaping the rewards: after winning the Norwegian Rally Championship in 2009, Mikkelsen achieved his international breakthrough in 2011 when he won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in a Škoda Fabia S2000. Then, in 2012, in addition to successfully defending his IRC title, he participated in eight WRC rounds for Volkswagen Motorsport. Mikkelsen’s co-driver Mikko Markkula can likewise look back on a successful past with Škoda. He scored his first race victory in the IRC in 2009 together with his fellow Finn Juho Hänninen, and this was followed the overall victory a year later. In the past two years, however, Markkula has had to concede defeat to a one-time Škoda colleague. His name? Andreas Mikkelsen.


Statements from the Volkswagen Team.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Polo R WRC #7

“I have often been quick in Portugal, but my best result so far is the third place I achieved in 2011. I hope I manage to come through clean this year and challenge for a place on the podium. The Polo R WRC certainly has the potential. Sébastien’s victories in Sweden and Mexico have shown that. The first three rounds of the world championship were a bit difficult for me. I just needed time to get used to the car. However, I had the necessary trust in the car on the Power Stage in Mexico – and that good feeling got even stronger during the tests in Portugal. The Rally Portugal is known for its ‘blind crests’, which are really rather special. You really have to be alert as you approach these crests, as you cannot see whether they are followed by a left-hander or a right-hander. For this reason, it is also important to be very accurate during the Recce in the run-up to the rally, to ensure that the pace notes cannot be misunderstood in any way.”

 

Sébastien Ogier, Polo R WRC #8

“The coming rally in Portugal is another good indication of where we stand, and will be particularly interesting because those will be the kind of conditions we will come up against most often in the World Rally Championship: hard gravel and stages not much above sea level. However, the Rally Portugal has two sides to it. When it is dry there, the ground is very hard and offers a lot of grip. However, when it is wet, the ground becomes very soft and muddy and only offers a very limited amount of grip. We discovered that last year – and it is not particularly fun driving there in those conditions. I much prefer it to be dry.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Polo R WRC #9

“I can hardly wait for the start of the Rally Portugal. It will be my first rally with the Polo R WRC, although I did have a number of outings with Volkswagen last year and have already been completely integrated in the team. As such, the only thing that is really new to me is the element of competing in a current World Rally Car. After two successful years in the IRC, I feel ready to take the step up into the World Rally Championship. In my opinion, the Rally Portugal is one of the most difficult on the race calendar. The last time I drove there was back in 2007, so it will practically be a new event for me.”

Tuesday, 09.04.2013


„Andreas will gain experience in Portugal.”: Three questions for Sven Smeets, WRC Team Manager.

 

 What does it mean to the team, to line up with a third Polo R WRC from the Rally Portugal onward – from both a sporting and logistical point of view?

„From a sporting point of view, it is obviously nice to see Andreas back in a World Rally Car after a long break. He initially has different sporting goals to those of Sébastien and Jari-Matti. For Andreas, it will primarily be a matter of gaining experience and completing the rallies wherever possible. Where he feels more confident, he can also show what kind of speed he is capable of. For the team, a third car simply means more material and more work. We have to take more spare parts with us. On top of that comes the equipment for another service place, as well as additional personnel.“

 

 Why did Volkswagen not start the rally season with three Polo R WRCs right from the word go?

„Because of the extra effort that comes with a third car. We wanted to give ourselves enough time to conscientiously run through all the processes involved in a rally weekend – and with a completely new car and, to a certain degree, new drivers. We also wanted to see how the Polo R WRC performed in competitive conditions. Had we discovered a major problem over the course of the first three rallies, we would then have had to solve it on three cars.“

 

What will be the team’s biggest challenge at the Rally Portugal?

„That depends in no small part on the weather. In the past we have seen that the cars are given quite a tough ride at this rally when it rains. The route becomes very muddy and slippery. However, when it is dry and the roads are in good condition, we will experience a really good gravel rally in Portugal, at which it will all come down to the driver. It is a real drivers’ rally.“

 

Find out about Sven Smeets in the team special.


09:40 (CET)

Volkswagen to compete with

three Polo R WRC cars for the first time.

 

 It’s the fourth rally of the WRC calendar – and it’s also the fourth premiere for Volkswagen Motorsport: the Hanover-based team will be competing with three Polo R WRC vehicles for the first time in Rally Portugal. After a strong WRC debut in Monte Carlo in January, the first rally on snow and ice in Sweden and the gravel premiere in the thin air of Mexico, there will be another first during the forthcoming Rally Portugal (11–14 April): Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) will be making their debut in the 315 hp four-wheel drive vehicle with start number 9.

 

The line-up will, of course, also include Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and the winners of the rallies in Sweden and Mexico, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F).

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito: “After three completely different rallies at the beginning of the season, we are now facing the first ‘typical’ WRC rally in Portugal. Which means hard gravel tracks, spring-like temperatures and – unlike Rally Mexico – stages driven at only just above sea level. We will no doubt experience very similar conditions to these in the forthcoming rallies in Argentina, Greece and Italy too. So Rally Portugal is another important yardstick for gauging the performance of the Polo R WRC.”

Monday, 08.04.2013


10:00 (CET)

Freak weather in Portugal:

dust bowl or mud, mud, glorious mud?


The Algarve in the south of Portugal is a popular holiday destination, especially in the spring. You can come here to bask in the sun and escape from the miserable, extended winter weather of northern Europe. Or at least that’s the theory.


But in practice, it’s a completely different story: last year’s Rally Portugal in early April was hit by such torrential rain that rally cars became stuck in the watersplashes. Instead of dusty gravel special stages, the entrants and fans were faced with veritable mudbaths, and the mechanics had the unenviable task of removing kilos of mud from the wheel wells every time they serviced a car.


Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier is a hot favourite for the fourth rally of the current WRC season – and not just because he is currently at the top of the drivers’ standings. The Frenchman has already won the Rally Portugal twice, together with his co-driver Julien Ingrassia. But they face stiff competition from within their own team, of all places: both Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, the latter of whom will be lining up for the first time in a third Polo R WRC, are seasoned experts on gravel.
The Rally Portugal action will revolve around Faro’s football stadium, around which the service park will be set up.

 

As is the case with all gravel rallies, the proceedings get under way with a qualifying session (Thursday, 11 April, 10:40). The top-placed drivers in this session can then choose their starting positions in the rally. Things then get serious on the Friday (12 April) when, at 09:18, the first of 15 planned special stages measuring 386 kilometres in total begins. The rally will then finish back at the stadium in Faro at 15:40 on the Sunday (14 April).

Saturday, 06.04.2013


20:30 (CET)

Mikkelsen celebrates premiere

in front of 100,000 fans.


The Volkswagen team’s new third man, Andreas Mikkelsen, has achieved a spectacular premiere in the Polo R WRC in the hotly contested “Fafe Rally Sprint” at the 6.34-kilometre track in the north of Portugal. Fired on by 100,000 enthusiastic fans, the Norwegian and his Finnish co-driver Mikko Markkula finished in fourth place in a time of 3:56.3 minutes, in spite of getting into a spin in the final heat, behind the winner Dani Sordo (Citroën) of Spain (3:39.3 minutes).

The spectators, some of whom had set up camp days ago in order to secure the best vantage points, were treated to glorious sunshine and some furious rallying action, including one of the most spectacular jumps of the season.


“It was a unique experience and my hairs are still standing on end”, said Andreas Mikkelsen. “The spectators were incredible – they almost drowned out the noise of the engines. And at the jump, the crowds shout you into the air, just like in ski jumping – simply amazing. Events like this are a real bonus for the rallying scene. I’m very happy with my first time behind the wheel of a Polo R WRC, even though that spin in the final heat cost us third place. Now I’m really looking forward to Rally Portugal!”

Thursday, 04.04.2013


09:00 (CET)

“Fafe Rally Sprint”:

Ogier pulls out of show event.

Volkswagen rally driver Sébastien Ogier (F) has been forced to pull out of this Saturday’s “Fafe Rally Sprint” due to ill health. Together with his co-driver Julien Ingrassia (F), the Frenchman had planned to use this show event near Porto as preparation for the WRC event in Portugal on 11–14 April.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been hit by a flu bug and my doctor has advised against me competing,” said a disappointed Ogier. “I would have loved to have taken part, but my health is my top priority ahead of Rally Portugal. I hope the fans understand.”

Volkswagen Motorsport is, of course, still participating in the “Fafe Rally Sprint”: Andreas Mikkelsen (N) and co-driver Mikko Markkula (FIN) driving the Polo R WRC #9 will do their best to put on a good show for the approximately 100,000 fans who are expected to turn up.

Thursday, 28.03.2013


15:00 (CET)

Andreas Mikkelsen: “Everybody in the world

wants that Volkswagen seat.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen is about to make his debut in the Polo R WRC for the new team Volkswagen Motorsport II in Portugal. In an interview with the rally portal “WRC.com” the 23-year-old Norwegian reckons he has landed the best career opportunity on the planet.

 

“I almost can’t explain how much I’m looking forward to it,” Mikkelsen told “WRC live”. “My last rally in the WRC in a proper World Rally Car was Poland in 2008, so many years ago. Since I lost my WRC drive I have been fighting so hard to get back to the place I was, doing the Norwegian Championship and two years of IRC with great results, and now finally I’m getting the opportunity to be back.

I am very fortunate to be back with a World Rally Car and with a team like Volkswagen. Just look at what they have done so far this year. It’s a very big opportunity to show my potential as a driver. I think everybody in the world wants that Volkswagen seat.”

Monday, 18.03.2013


11:15 (CET)

“We easily cook for up to 120 people“:

Helmut Grassegger is the WRC team’s cook.

 

Mr. Grassegger, you are the Volkswagen WRC team´s cook. How do you end up in a job like that?

“In 2008 I got a phone call from Timo Gottschalk, who I knew from the Skoda Red Bull team, and he asked me if I could cook for Volkswagen at the Portuguese PAX Rally. I have been the team cook ever since. It’s actually quite funny, because I have never studied cookery in my life. I am a printer by trade and I taught myself how to cook.”

 

Where do you prepare the meals? Actually in the service park or do you cook them in advance?

“We always have a professional kitchen with us, so we can easily cook meals for around 100 to 120 people on site.”

 

Do the drivers get a special menu, or do they eat the same as the rest of the team?

“Between the special stages, the drivers are given particularly light food. It used to be pasta with a light sauce. These days they get risotto with vegetables and chicken. The drivers eat a normal meal in the evening. There is always a selection of grilled meat, fish and vegetables, so there is something for everyone.”

 

Do Ogier or Latvala have special requests, such as French or Finnish specialities?

“No, they are both really easy-going. If there are any special requests at all, it’s usually for breakfast. Ogier likes to eat fried eggs; Latvala likes a hard-boiled egg cooked for five minutes.”

 

The WRC has produced many legends. Is there a former driver who you would like to cook for?

I have already had the good fortune of being able to cook for my favourite driver. I am a big fan of Carlos Sainz, for whom I cooked during the Rally Dakar.


17:40 (CET)

Volkswagen at the “Fafe Rally Sprint”:

full throttle over the hill jump.

 

Volkswagen Motorsport is giving its fans a mouth-watering foretaste of what to expect in the forthcoming Rally Portugal (11 till 14 April 2013): the team will be taking part in the ”Fafe Rally Sprint” for the first time. The show event on Saturday, 6 April heralds the start of the Portuguese rally week. More than 100,000 spectators are expected, which is no big surprise, because there are some spectacular sights to behold on the 6.34-kilometre-long section of the legendary Lameirinha stage – among other things, the highly popular distance measurement beckons at one of the most challenging hill jumps in rally sport. The current record is 73.5 metres, set in the year 2000 by Armin Schwarz in the Škoda Octavia WRC. It remains to be seen if it will be broken this year.


Andreas Mikkelsen and Markku Markkula (N/FIN) are lining up at the start for Volkswagen Motorsport. Beginning with the Rally Portugal, the Nordic duo will compete in the third Polo R WRC at all the remaining rounds of this season’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

 

The teams have to battle it out for their ticket for the final in two qualification rounds. Whoever records the best time wins the “Fafe Rally Sprint”. Other teams besides Volkswagen Motorsport have announced their intention to participate in the cult event. The official Rally Portugal begins with qualification on Thursday, 11 April 2013, north-west of the rally base in Faro.

Wednesday, 13.03.2013


09:30 (CET)

Andreas Mikkelsen to drive a third Polo R WRC

as of the Rally de Portugal.

As intended, Volkswagen Motorsport will be entering a third Polo R WRC into all of the rallies as of the next WRC event in Portugal. Its driver will be the Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen, together with co-driver Mikko Markkula of Finland. Consequently, a second team – Volkswagen Motorsport II – has been formed.


Team manager Sven Smeets explains the reasoning behind this move: “This gives Andreas greater scope, for example in terms of test drives, because it means he doesn’t have to share the 42 days allocated to a team with Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. In addition, there is more space in the service area for two teams than there is for a three-vehicle team.”