Volkswagen Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen fired a clear warning shot to his rivals ahead of the Rally de Portugal as he go to grips with the 2015-specification Polo R during the shakedown.
Mikkelsen lead home team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala in a 1-2-3 as the three start a rally with equal machinery for the first time this year.
“I can’t understand why I didn’t get this car earlier!” joked Mikkelsen. “The feeling with it is great. We had a super test and managed to do a lot of kilometres. I was introduced to it last year so I knew what to expect. I really enjoyed this morning.”
Ott Tänak finished the session in fourth place in the new M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 which has been developed 100% in house for the first time. Dani Sordo tied the times with Tänak ahead of the returning Robert Kubica.
Mads Østberg was luck to escape unharmed following a high-speed roll during his first run through the shakedown, fortunately despite ending the accident on the side of the Citroen, the Norweigian was able to complete two more runs.
“We ran wide, touched a bank and rolled in the road, landing on our side. It was quite a big crash but no real impact. We asked spectators to put the car back on its wheels, changed a puncture and drove back to service,” explained Østberg.
“There was a misunderstanding in the car and I think I heard the wrong pace note, but I’m unsure. I thought I had a ‘short six left minus’ corner which is flat out. But it was a ‘five left minus’ – which is definitely a corner where you should brake,” he added.
Ogier heads in to the weekend chasing the record for most wins in Portugal, Markku Alén currently holds it with five (1975, 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1987) while Ogier is on four (2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014).
“I have nothing but fond memories of the Rally Portugal,” said Ogier. “I have won there four times already, including the last two years with Volkswagen.
“I have heard that victory this time would see me draw level with Markku Alén, who holds the record for the most wins in Portugal. That is obviously my goal. We know each other already – he is a great guy and I really respect him.”
Vodafone Rally de Portugal 2015: Top ten Shakedown times
1 Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Polo R 3min 11.3sec
2 Sébastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R 3min 12.6sec
3 Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Polo R 3min 13.1sec
4 Ott Tänak Ford Fiesta RS 3min 13.4sec
= Dani Sordo Hyundai i20 3min 13.4sec
6 Robert Kubica Ford Fiesta RS 3min 13.6sec
7 Kris Meeke DS 3 3min 14.0sec
8 Hayden Paddon Hyundai i20 3min 14.3sec
9 Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 3min 14.6sec
10 Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta RS 3min 14.9sec