Good start in Mexico: making its first competitive outing on gravel, the Polo R WRC qualified well towards the front of the field ahead of the opening stage of the Rally Mexico later today. Having opted for the harder tyres, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F) set the fifth fastest time on the 6.27-kilometre stage near León in central Mexico. Their Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were seventh fastest on the same tyre compound. Taking the entire rally into account, Volkswagen made a conscious decision to fit the harder tyres, although the softer variant promised to produce the faster qualifying times.

Sébastien Ogier selected start position nine for the first 13 special stages on Thursday and Friday. Jari-Matti Latvala went for seventh.

Quotes, Rally Mexico qualifying

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“Obviously the soft tyres have produced the better times in qualifying, while we opted for the harder compound. At first glance, starting from seventh does not look ideal. However, we will have to wait and see how the rally pans out – it could ultimately be an advantage to have more hard tyres left. After all, the number of tyres is restricted to 28. Our priority remains to use our first gravel rally to close the gap on our rivals in terms of experience with the Polo. We can only do that if we complete the full distance. As there are a lot of stones and rocks lurking on the stages of the Rally Mexico, we concentrated hard on documenting these perils very precisely in our pace notes during our preparations. We feel well prepared and are looking forward to the spectacular start in Guanajuato’s old town.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“I am not happy with that qualifying. We had the disadvantage of having to open the stage. We took the safe choice with the hard tyre compound. What we didn’t expect was that there would be quite such a big difference between the hard and the soft. Qualifying is very important here at the Rally Mexico, in order to give yourself a good choice of starting position. We still have that. Our goal is to finish the rally and get a good result. Compared to our rivals, we will have an extra set of fresh tyres to use on the special stages.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Both drivers performed well in qualifying and earned themselves decent positions when it comes to selecting the starting order. The Rally Mexico does not really get going until Friday morning, when the first long and notorious gravel stages are scheduled. We are well prepared for it and are looking forward to the many enthusiastic fans that line the special stages and cheer the teams on frenetically.”

And then there was …

… a glance at the data from Sébastien Ogier’s Polo R WRC. And the findings: the Frenchman’s car was at full throttle for 30 per cent of the qualifying stage. The start at the Rally Mexico also represents the first competitive outing of the Polo R WRC on gravel. For comparison: the highest recorded percentage at full throttle came on the dry tarmac of the Rally Monte Carlo – 42 per cent.

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