Monday, 12 May 2014

Rally - Latvala wins

With three cars in the top four places at the end of Rally Argentina, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC squad were in jubilant spirits at the end of this fifth round of the world series. It wasn’t quite a clean sweep as Kris Meeke doggedly hung in there with his Citroen to keep Andreas Mikkelsen off the final podium step. With team mate Mads Ostberg sidelined with mechanical failure, Meeke had even more pressure heaped on his shoulders. Nice one Kris. Good news too for Elfyn Evans, finishing seventh in the Fiesta, but more importantly packing away more knowledge and experience for when he is let off the leash.

At the finish, Jari-Matti Latvala said: “Of course I’m absolutely thrilled to have won the Rally Argentina. It’s been quite a few years since a Finn won this rally. Fighting it out with S├ębastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia was great. My co-driver Miikka Anttila contributed enormously to our success because his instructions safely guided us through some extremely difficult sections. This victory means a lot to me personally because we won this tricky rally on our own merit, which shows that we’re still a force to be reckoned with in the World Championship.”

S├ębastien Ogier added: “Conditions at this Rally Argentina were the most difficult ones I’ve experienced for a long time. The road conditions were incredibly tough on the drivers and the cars, so I’m very happy with second place. I’d like to congratulate Jari-Matti, who put in a strong performance and deserved to win. I’m actually pleased that people are realising it’s not as easy to win as it might sometimes look. Julien and I gave our all throughout the weekend, but especially at the end the gravel tracks were so slippery and muddy that our only objective was to make it across the line. Mastering ‘El Condor’ in particular was a real adventure.”

Andreas Mikkelsen was relieved: “I’ve never been so delighted to finish fourth. After we failed to finish the last stage on Friday because of a technical glitch and were hit with a five-minute penalty as a result, we tried to make the best of things. After gaining fourth place even quicker than we’d hoped on Saturday, we were a bit more cautious on Sunday. Lots of mud, thick fog – the last Special Stages were a real challenge.”

Ogier still leads the WRC on 112 points from Latvala (88) and Mikkelsen sharing 48 points with Ostberg. Kris Meeke has moved up to sixth (32) and Elfyn Evans is eighth (26).

Leaderboard after 14 (of 14) stages:
1, J. Latvala, 4:41:24.8,
2, S. Ogier, 4:42:51.7, +1:26.9
3, K. Meeke, 4:47:19.5, +5:54.7
4, A. Mikkelsen, 4:47:43.1, +6:18.3
5, T. Neuville, 4:49:50.6, +8:25.8
6, R. Kubica, 4:51:32.8, +10:08.0
7, E. Evans, 4:51:57.0, +10:32.2
8, M. Prokop, 4:53:28.7, +12:03.9
9, M. Hirvonen, 5:01:19.6, +19:54.8
10, N. Al-Attiyah, 5:04:35.0, +23:10.2

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