Volkswagen will be hoping one of their three works drivers can seal victory and set a new record of nine consecutive wins in a row for one manufacturer at round five of the World Rally Championship in Argentina.
Defending champions and current World Championship leaders Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have never won in Argentina, but according to Ogier this only makes them more determined to conquer the 405.15 kilometre, 14 stage mammoth.
“I have never won the Rally Argentina,” proclaimed Ogier. “I came close in 2011 and just missed out last year too. That makes me all the more determined to win in Argentina.”
It’s been almost four weeks since Ogier stormed to victory in Rally Portugal but that doesn’t mean the Frenchman has been relaxing. The team have been preparing for Rally Argentina in Sardinia to try and replicate the South American courses tricky surface.
“We all spent time in 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.”
Ogier also didn’t shy away from the fact that he could benefit from competing in Argentina last year, as the rallies itinerary is almost exactly the same as 2013. “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.”
Ogier’s Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikka Anttila currently sit second in the championship after four rallies. Latvala appeared confident about his chances in Argentina but remained cautious about his approach on the punishing special stages.
“The Rally suits my driving style, but is not easy for the drivers,” said Latvala. “If you’re not careful, you can hit a large stone as soon as you push yourself to the limit. 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. We did not have the best of times in Portugal. The key now is to not make any more mistakes and perform as consistently as we did at the first three rallies of the year.”
Rally Argentina consists of the most severe elevation changes on the WRC calendar. 1,500 metres of elevation changes to be precise and special stage ‘El Cóndor – Copina’ is renowned for being quite literally ‘the highlight’ of the event, as it begins with cars plunging down winding roads from 2,138 metres above sea level.
Volkswagens third works driver, Andreas Mikkelsen is looking forward to tackling the daunting drop. “The closing power stage will quite literally be a highlight: the start of ‘El Cóndor-Copina’ is the highest point on the Rally.I am particularly looking forward to that, as it demands courage and precision at the wheel.”