As the spring break comes to a close the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship is set to return to action in South America with round four of the season, Rally Argentina. The event is a significant one for championship leaders Volkswagen Motorsport as they bid for a 13th straight win in their Polo WRC. Indeed Argentina is the very last place that VW didn’t take the top spot of the podium, with the 2015 event resulting in Kris Meeke taking his maiden WRC win, so there will be extra incentive for Sebastien Ogier, Jari Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen to take the win.
With Latvala taking victory in Mexico reigning World Champion Ogier will be in determined fashion to get back to winning ways. The Polo driver will also compete in the knowledge that this event is the only rally on the calendar that he hasn’t won.
“The Rally Argentina is the only rally on the calendar that Julien and I have not yet won.” said the Frenchman, “This year will not be easy either, because we will once again be the first car onto the route. Whatever happens, I will do my best to improve my record here and to win the rally for the first time. Julien and I have had a great season so far.
“We have always achieved the best possible result. With this in mind, I am very optimistic about Argentina. However, the weather can be very tricky. Thick fog often restricts visibility, which is not very pleasant for a racing driver. As far as the surface is concerned, we must adapt from Mexico, as the gravel is much softer and the ground far sandier. That requires a different driving style.”
Latvala comes to Argentina hoping to carry the momentum from his win in Mexico and will once again be trying to take advantage of Ogier’s road position. Another win could turn the tide of the battle for the title moving forward.
“I will approach Argentina in exactly the same way as Mexico.” said the Finn “Starting sixth generally gives you a little advantage – if the stages remain dry. There are more special stages this year than last year. But they are a bit shorter. I like this concept. I also like the mix of old and new stages. About a quarter of the route is completely new. We need new pace notes for this, but that goes for every team.”
Andreas Mikkelsen will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing rally here last year, the Norwegian could be another driver to take advantage of road position.
“Last year I was really unlucky in Argentina.”, said Mikkelsen, “First a puncture developed into a far larger problem and cost us a lot of time. Last but not least, we had to retire on the Power Stage following a collision with a rock. One thing is certain: I have set my sights on finishing on the podium here.
The 2016 Rally Argentina will be a challenge to all competitors as the event will see changes to all special stages with 22.8 per cent of the total distance being held on completely new sections of route. The event kicks off on April 21.