A cool head in the heat of battle – Volkswagen has successfully defended its lead at the Rally Sweden. At the only round of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) held exclusively on ice and snow, Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (F/F), at the wheel of the Polo R WRC, hold a 26.9-second lead over nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) at the top of the overall standings. Their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) follow in fourth place. The Volkswagen Polo R WRC came out on top in five of the eight special stages and finished in the top three on eight occasions on day two of the “Sweden”.

The second day of the Rally Sweden headed north-east of the Service Park in Hagfors through the forests of central Sweden. Conditions on the special stages “Sågen”, “Fredriksberg”, “Rämmen” and the “Hagfors Sprint” were similar to those faced on Friday: a solid layer of ice ensured that conditions were typically “Swedish”. Small milestones on the loop, which was negotiated twice, ensured that it was a surprisingly successful day for Volkswagen. Jari-Matti Latvala scored his first ever stage win with the Polo R WRC on the first run of “Fredriksberg”. Sébastien Ogier won the very same stage when they returned later in the day. The Frenchman also the fastest man through “Sågen” twice and “Rämmen” at the second attempt. Volkswagen now has a total nine stage wins and 18 top-three results to its name at the Rally Sweden.

Quotes, Day Two of the Rally Sweden

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“I am not entirely happy today. This is because I must work on my performance, rather than that of the Polo R WRC. The car’s performance is there, but knowing exactly where the limit is has not yet become second nature to me. Because our rival Mads Østberg was on such good form today, we lost third place to him. However, we have almost another 100 kilometres ahead of us tomorrow, and the gap is not that big. Let’s see what happens on Sunday.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“Up until now it has really been a perfect rally for us. The car is simply brilliant, which makes it a joy to drive quickly. There is no reason for me to go all out on the attack. Despite this, we are still putting our foot down, as the opposition is applying plenty of pressure. Sébastien Loeb, in particular, is one man you can never write off. If you take your foot off the gas, you risk losing your rhythm. We found good pace on today’s stages, particularly on the second run. That will be our task for tomorrow too – after all, we still have just short of 100 kilometres of special stage ahead of us.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“A big compliment goes to both drivers, who did another great job today. Fastest times on five of the eight stages shows that the Polo R WRC is working well in the special conditions you find at the Rally Sweden. You can see from the results that Sébastien Ogier feels at home in the car – and from the big grin on his face at the service. That gives the entire team additional motivation to give everything again on the final day of the rally tomorrow. I am also pleased for Jari-Matti Latvala, who won his first stage for us today. He has not driven many kilometres in the Polo R WRC yet. However, the stage win is a sign of what we can expect once he is used to the material.”

And then there was …

… snow instead of sand. Only one single component of the Polo R WRC has been transferred without any modification from the Dakar-winning Volkswagen Race Touareg 3. And that component will only see action at the Rally Sweden. The cars driven by Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier will both carry two shovels at the second round of the WRC season. The ultra-light spades have already helped Giniel de Villiers, Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah escape from some tricky situations in the desert, before going on to win the legendary Dakar Rally with Volkswagen. The tool is on board at the “Sweden” for a similar purpose. Should Latvala or Ogier get lodged in a snowdrift, they will reach for their trusty shovels.

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