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Jari Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) finished qualifying for the Rally Argentina in first place in their Volkswagen Polo R WRC. The Finnish duo secured the best time by a whisker, coming in just three hundredths of a second faster than the record-breaking world champion Loeb and their team-mates Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F).

Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) completed the team’s strong performance at the start of the fifth event in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) by taking ninth place.

Jari-Matti Latvala chose to start Wednesday and Thursday’s special stages last, meaning that he will be twelfth to tackle the course. Sébastien Ogier – who won the rallies in Sweden, Mexico and Portugal in his Polo R WRC – will be tenth off the starting line. Andreas Mikkelsen will be the fifth driver to complete the first five special stages.

Quotes following qualifying for the Rally Argentina

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“Of course I’m delighted to have recorded my first qualifying best time for Volkswagen, giving me first choice when it comes to starting positions. Generally speaking, there is an advantage in starting gravel stages as far as possible towards the back of the grid. It might be better to tackle the course first in heavy rain, but there’s not much chance of rain tomorrow, which is why we picked the last starting position. Inspecting the stages has shown that the roads are tougher than they have been in recent years and will demand a lot of our Polo R WRC. I’ve managed to keep up with the speed pretty well here in Argentina in the past but have never achieved a really good result, so I’ll be aiming for a place on the podium again.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“Qualifying went well for us. Third place was good enough to be able to choose a good starting position for the first five special stages. Our goal is to get as much as possible out of Rally Argentina. The focus is on winning as many points as possible for the WRC, of course, but I’m a racer through and through so I always want to win too. At the very least, we want to achieve a place on the podium.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The second rally for Volkswagen is a bit more like business as usual for me. Argentina offers me another opportunity to improve bit by bit. In Portugal, I was about one second per kilometre slower than my colleagues, so my goal is to close the gap. With that in mind, I’ve already changed some aspects of the system I use for pace notes and it will be interesting for me to see what difference that makes. Qualifying was the first step. I’m satisfied with my time because I was a bit cautious in one or two places, especially on one of the jumps. I’m ready for the rally now.”

Jost Capito, Director of Volkswagen Motorsport
“This is a great team result. I’m particularly pleased that Jari-Matti Latvala was able to record the fastest time in spite of very stiff competition. And Sébastien Ogier put in a strong performance as usual to come in third. The first three are incredibly close, which emphasises how well matched the World Rally Championship teams are. One too many skids, and you’d finish qualifying two positions lower. I think we can expect the Rally Argentina to be an exciting event – the smallest things will make a big difference over the next three days. We are well prepared and think we have chosen the right starting positions in the light of the weather forecast.”

And then there was ...

... the crucial difference. Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala completed the 4,590-metre qualifier 0.035 seconds faster than Sébastien Loeb in his Citroën – which is equivalent to a gap of just 106 centimetres. To put that in context, the Polo R WRC could comfortably fit this distance between its wheels with its track width of 1.61 metres. It is less than the height of the car, however, which stands 1,356 millimetres tall.

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