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Volkswagen set for big fightback on final day in Portugal

Rally Portugal 2016Not for the faint-hearted: Volkswagen is well-placed in the race for victory and podium places at the Rally Portugal. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) were embroiled in a thrilling duel for second place on day two of the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship – behind the leading Citroën duo of Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL). Ogier/Ingrassia produced an impressive performance on day two of the rally to retain the upper hand and a 3.1-second lead over Mikkelsen/Jæger. After exactly 300.68 of the 368.00 kilometres against the clock, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) have climbed three places into sixth overall, having lost valuable time on Friday with a damaged power steering.

The Volkswagen drivers received support from on high, courtesy of Dr. Herbert Diess – Chairman of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand – who greeted all three duos personally in the service park in Porto, before taking the opportunity to follow the second loop live out on the route. The afternoon was dominated by the Volkswagen drivers, who won all the afternoon loop’s stages, the melodious “Baião”, “Marão” and “Amarante”. In doing so, Ogier, Mikkelsen and Latvala clocked the three fastest times on stages 13 and 15 of the Rally Portugal, taking the number of Volkswagen one-two-threes to 100 from a possible 799.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa paid the Volkswagen team a brief visit during the service on Saturday evening, where he not only met the Volkswagen drivers and co-drivers, but also Portuguese team members José Azevedo da Silva, Rui Cabeda, Marco Moreiras and João Passos.

Quotes after day two of the Rally Portugal Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1 “It was a very tiring day, but Julien and I once again did everything we possibly could. We were right on the limit. As such, I am very happy with our performance. The Polo was perfect on the extremely tough and coarse routes, which really stretched me – particularly on the second loop. The tyre selection certainly contributed to us ending today in second place. I am now looking forward to the most spectacular stage of the rally – ‘Fafe’. For Julien and me, scrapping for points on the Power Stage in front of thousands of fans is a real highlight.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2 “First and foremost, I would like to say a huge thank you to my mechanics. They did not have an easy job yesterday evening, and without them I would not be stood here. It goes without saying that Miikka and I were initially very disappointed with the start of the Rally Portugal. However, the important thing for today was to go and get some points towards the Manufacturers’ Championship and make up some places. We managed that. We may not be able to improve our position much anymore, but we will be giving it everything again on Sunday.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9 “Compared to Friday I had a much better feel for the car today. We made a few changes to the set-up, which helped. That allowed me to drive as I like to today. Anders and I went beyond the limit. You can see the result in the overall standings. As such, we are more than confident going into Sunday’s final four stages. Anything can happen. It will certainly be an extremely exciting finale to the Rally Portugal.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director “Ogier, Mikkelsen, Latvala – all three Volkswagen drivers were at their best today. You cannot ask for more than that. Andreas Mikkelsen, in particular, has made the battle for the podium at the Rally Portugal really exciting again. After fourth place yesterday, he has now climbed into third and goes into the Sunday just behind second place. Sébastien Ogier made the best of his starting position and can be proud of his performance. Jari-Matti Latvala showed great spirit after yesterday’s set-back and has also made progress up the standings. All in all, a good day for Volkswagen at the Rally Portugal.”

And then there was …

… soothing balm for ill-treated rally driver hands. After the power steering on his Volkswagen Polo R WRC broke, Jari-Matti Latvala had to work phenomenally hard at the wheel on the Friday of the Rally Portugal. At the end of the day, a number of painful blisters adorned the hands of the Finn in the Volkswagen team. Time for the healing hands of driver coordinator Willy Verhoeven, who, after consulting the medical department, dressed Latvala’s hands with soothing blister plasters. These worked miracles overnight, allowing Latvala to hold the steering wheel pain-free again on Saturday morning. Latvala’s way of thanking Verhoeven: a firm handshake.

Provisional result after day one of the Rally Portugal 01. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën, 1h 28m 53.3s 02. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 45.3s 03. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 48.4s 04. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 1m 20.0s 05. Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (F/F), Ford, + 3m 04.2s 06. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen, + 4m 07.8s 07. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 6m 32.8s 08. Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ), Ford, + 8m 11.8s 09. Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S), Škoda, + 9m 54.2s 10. Nicolas Fuchs/Fernando Mussano (RCH/RA), Škoda, + 10m 26.2s Press release Volkswagen Motorsport]]>

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