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Latvala keeps hopes alive in Argentina


Volkswagen duo Latvala/Anttila close gap to leaders by about 20 seconds. Mikkelsen/Fløene and Ogier/Ingrassia shine with fastest times on their comeback. Four out of four stage wins for Volkswagen on the Saturday of the Rally Argentina.

Still on course for a podium: Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) have defended third place at the Rally Argentina and closed the gap to the leaders. The Volkswagen duo go into the final day of round four of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) 1:03.7 minutes behind overall leaders Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL, Citroën) and trailing second-placed Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën) by 25.1 seconds. Day three in Argentina was dominated by extremely challenging conditions, with the rough and eroded roads once again taking their toll on the top teams and their cars.

Of those rejoining the action under Rally2 regulations, Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) were particularly impressive, claiming three of a possible four stage wins – including SS 9, which was subsequently interrupted. The fourth went to team-mates Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) who, like Mikkelsen/Fløene, were looking to bounce back from the disappointment of Friday. However, they were once again to discover just how ruthless the Rally Argentina when their power steering failed – and on the longest (42.5 kilometres) and most unforgiving special stage of all places. Following their set-backs on Friday, Mikkelsen/Fløene and Ogier/Ingrassia are well down the overall standings and are now pinning all their hopes on Sunday’s Power stage, on which points are awarded to the three fastest cars. The Rally Argentina closes with a true icon of the WRC circus: the drivers must tackle the 16.32-kilometre “El Cóndor” stage, with its narrow roads winding between enormous rocks, twice on Sunday.

Sébastien Ogier “From a sporting point of view, today was once again not exactly ideal for Julien and me. This morning there was no wind, which meant that I – like all the drivers, I guess – struggled with the thick clouds of dust created by the car in front. And my power steering failed on the second loop, which ruled out any chance of clocking good times. Particularly as we were on a stage that is over 40 kilometres long, and is extremely twisting and demanding. Maybe we can still pick up some points on the Power Stage on the final day. However, that certainly won’t be easy.”
Jari-Matti Latvala “The conditions today were once again extremely difficult from the outset, and we had a bit of luck on our side when we slipped up on the eighth special stage. After that I could not really find my rhythm and dropped a bit of time. The afternoon was then very good, and I made up time again. Tomorrow we take on ‘El Cóndor’ twice. I know this stage very well, so perhaps I can still put the two leaders under some pressure.”

Andreas Mikkelsen “I enjoyed the special stages today – particularly the two stages from Capilla del Monte to San Marcos. It had a bit of everything: fast sections, technically demanding passages, water crossings. If you have the necessary confidence, you will be quick. As such, I am pleased to have won this stage twice. It is a shame that we blew any chances of competing for the win yesterday. For this reason, we have had to change our plan. My goal is now to score as many points as possible on the Power Stage tomorrow. We will push hard then.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director “The Rally Argentina remains tough and challenging – both for the drivers and co-drivers, and for the entire team. The special stages, which have been the subject of extreme erosion, require you to drive in a focussed and calculated manner. Jari-Matti Latvala paced himself well on the first loop, then attacked again in the second. The top three have bunched together and anything is still possible. Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier showed how quick the Polo R WRC is, even in these extreme conditions. Their stage wins have given them confidence ahead of tomorrow’s Power Stage. One thing is certain: we are ready for the showdown on Sunday.”

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