Volkswagen has emerged as the winners in the fifth round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) of Rally Argentina when Jari-Matti Latvala defeats his team-mate, defending champion Sebastien Ogier. The other Polo-R of Andreas Mikkelsen completed the rally in fourth, marking Volkswagen’s strongest result in the WRC so far.
The weekend’s most impressive fightback came from Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula. The Norwegian–Finnish Volkswagen duo suffered a setback on the very first day of the Rally Argentina when a belt flew off their alternator. They finished seventh rather than third and were hit by a five-minute penalty instead of vying for the lead. However, Mikkelsen/Markkula didn’t give up.
On Saturday, they overtook three of their rivals by setting the best time on one stage and bagging two other top three times. This halved the gap to second place to less than two minutes. A conservative but successful strategy came into play on Sunday: Mikkelsen/Markkula cleverly secured fourth place with good results on the two classic stages “Mina Clavero” and “El Condor” and managed to finish just 23.6 seconds shy of a podium place rather than their original 3:21.3 minutes. It is interesting to note that Mikkelsen/Markkula would easily have secured a spot on the podium with their performance alone, had it not been for the time penalty.
The jubilant Latvala said, “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”
The works team will go into the next round in Rally Italy at Sardinia (05–08 June) 97 points ahead of second-placed Citroën.
Rally Argentina – Final Results
1. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen 4h 41m 24.8s
2. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen + 1m 26.9s
3. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 5m 54.7s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN), Volkswagen + 6m 18.3s
5. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 8m 25.8s
6. Robert Kubica/Maciej Szczepaniak (PL/PL), Ford + 10m 08.0s
7. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 10m 32.2s
8. Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ), Ford + 12m 03.9s
9. Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Ford + 19m 54.8s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini (Q/I), Ford + 23m 10.2s