WRC: Two Podium Finishes for Volkswagen Motorsport

Volkswagen Motorsport were frustrated, in Argentina this weekend, in their attempt to set record number of consecutive wins in the World Rally Championship. It was unlucky 13 for them as leader Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out of the rally on Saturday afternoon.

Latvala’s crash handed the lead to New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon, driving some Korean car. VW’s Ogier tore through stage 17 (of 18), though, reducing the Kiwi’s overall lead to just two seconds. Unfortunately, Paddon was quickest through Rally’s final stage and finished the weekend in first, about 14.5 seconds ahead of Ogier, who finished second.

Andreas Mikkelsen also performed well, finishing the rally in third place.

“We had a plan from the outset, and stuck to it – and it paid off,” said Mikkelsen. “As such, I am more than happy with third place – after all, this is my first podium finish here in Argentina.”

Sebastien Ogier leaves the rally with a healthy lead in the championship standings (39 pts ahead of second place). Mikkelsen, meanwhile, is in 4th (48 pts). Despite only having scored points once this season—in Mexico, the rally he won—Latvala is in sixth place in the championship standings (27 pts).

Following his crash, Latvala said that the front-right top-mount broke and came through the hood, while he was driving through a quick part of the stage. As a result he couldn’t steer and rolled his car, ending his rally.

“I’m really disappointed but I don’t know what else I could have done,” he told wrc.com. “You can’t avoid every rock if you try to win. And this wasn’t a loose rock, it was part of the road. I can’t understand how it breaks. But that’s how it is – very unlucky.”

Fortunately, both he and his co-driver Miikka Anttila are okay following the accident.

The next rally is the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, which starts in about a month. The rally has been good to Mikkelson who led it early on last year, so his prospects are good there. It was Latvala, though, who eventually won the race last year, beating Ogier by only 8 seconds.

The route is reportedly similar to last year’s, so the prospects are good for the start of another winning streak for Volkswagen Motorsport.