Almost 160 kilometres, six challenging special stages and two Polo R WRC cars in the lead: Volkswagen is currently in first and second place in the Rally Portugal. At the end of the first two days of the three-day event, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) are 34.8 seconds ahead of their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) in round four of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Meanwhile, Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) gained a lot of ground in the overall classification in Portugal on Saturday in the third Polo R WRC. The duo is in sixth place ahead of the last four special stages on Sunday. They climbed eight places on the scoreboard, having been slowed down on Friday by a leak in the power steering circuit.

Saturday’s racing in Portugal was dominated by lots of loose gravel, full-speed sections and narrow, twisting roads which put drivers and cars alike to the test. All three Polo R WRC cars mastered the challenge posed by this extremely demanding gravel rally in style. Five of the day’s six special stages ended with two of the 315-horsepower four-wheel drives from Wolfsburg in the lead. They have already bagged a total of 19 top-three places in eleven special stages, recording seven best times in the process.

Quotes, Day Two of the Rally Portugal

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“I really enjoyed today – the stages were great fun. The tracks were quite difficult and tough on the car, especially the tyres. We had a nice duel with Mikko Hirvonen and managed to considerably extend our lead, even though we lost a bit of time in the last stage of the day because of a puncture. To be honest, I spent most of today looking behind me instead of in front of me. Of course I’d like to fight it out with Sébastien, but given that the season didn’t get off to such a good start for me, I’m more worried about securing a place on the podium than winning outright. It’s also important for the team that we both make it to the finishing line to get Volkswagen as many points as possible in the constructors’ championship.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“It was a good day for us, but I really gave my all today. My team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo put me under an awful lot of pressure this morning. If we make it across the finishing line tomorrow and are still in the front, it will have been a perfect rally for us. Today it was really hard work out there. I’m already feeling better today than I did yesterday, especially this afternoon, even though I’m still not at one hundred per cent fit. And tomorrow will be probably the toughest day of the rally. I don’t have to win at any cost, but on the other hand I’m one hundred per cent competitive and I always want to cross the line first.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“We’re still on a steep learning curve and we keep gaining valuable experience with every metre. The engine performance isn’t the only thing which is worlds away from what I’m used to from the Super 2000 Škoda – the Polo R WRC’s aerodynamics are impressive too. I’m still a long way off making the most of the WRC’s potential, especially on fast bends, where I could keep up a lot more speed. On top of that, my pace notes contain too much information – we need to keep them simpler in future. Everything is just so much faster with the Polo R WRC. But all in all, we’re moving in the right direction stage by stage. I’m very pleased with my performance today.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The second day of rallying in Portugal was further proof that we have signed three outstanding drivers. Although Sébastien Ogier has still not fully recovered, he is performing well. Five best times speak for themselves. But Jari-Matti Latvala also showed us why we signed him, winning two stages. I’m particularly pleased for Andreas Mikkelsen today. As well as fitting into the team perfectly in terms of his personality, he is already doing really well as he familiarises himself with the Polo R WRC and the World Rally Championship. First, second and sixth place are the result of a strong overall team performance – from drivers through to mechanics. I’m a happy Motorsport Director today. But we’ve got another tough day ahead of us tomorrow.”

And then there was …

… “ice king” Sébastien Ogier. The Frenchman, who is competing in the Rally of Portugal although he is still suffering from the effects of a viral fever, combats his sore throat with lots of vanilla ice cream.

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