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Second, third, eighth: Volkswagen made a good impression in qualifying ahead of the Rally Portugal. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F), at the wheel of the Polo R WRC, ended qualifying for the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship in second place, just seven tenths of a second off the lead.

Their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) clocked the third fastest time over the 4.98-kilometre gravel stage, another tenth of a second back. The good team performance was completed by Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula (N/FIN), who finished eighth fastest on their competitive debut. Volkswagen lines up with three Polo R WRCs for the first time at the Rally Portugal.

Quotes after qualifying for the Rally Portugal    

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“We had a good run in qualifying, without any major mistakes. I was possibly a little too cautious at a few points, and that might have cost us a few tenths of a second. We could probably have done better than third, but generally speaking I am happy. The stages at the Rally Portugal appear to be a bit rougher and harder than last year. This is probably because the rain has eroded the route more and brought more stones and boulders onto the surface. However, we are skipping some of the stages this year that were barely driveable in the rain last year. My goal, having failed at the first three rallies, is to finish on the podium.” Interested in other forms of motorsport? Why not check out the F1 Odds on offer at Bwin

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“I am very happy with the qualifying result, as I am unfortunately still not one hundred per cent fit. I felt a little better this morning, and just hope I continue to improve day by day, as the long and difficult special stages are extremely physically wearing – particularly if you are not one hundred per cent fit. Whatever happens, the Rally Portugal will be a big challenge, but we will do our best.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“It is fantastic to be back in the WRC. It is a long time since my last race in a World Rally Car back in 2008. The Rally Portugal is certainly not the easiest way to start the season. The special stages look challenging. For me, it will be all about gaining as much experience as possible. I am happy with qualifying. I could have been going a few tenths quicker, but I didn’t want to risk too much, as the qualifying stage has a few tricky corners.”
 
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Compliments to all three of our Volkswagen drivers. The produced a good team result in qualifying today. Despite being under par, Sébastien Ogier was fully focussed today and came home in second place. Hats off. Jari-Matti Latvala showed that he is on a par with his team-mate. Andreas Mikkelsen can also be pleased with his first qualifying for us and his competitive debut in the Polo R WRC. You cannot ask for much more than that as Motorsport Director. We are looking forward to the Rally Portugal, which really gets underway with the first special stage on Friday. I believe we are well prepared.”

And then there was ...

... the new cooperation between Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Mikko Markkula. The Norwegian/Finnish duo is making its first appearance for Volkswagen in the World Rally Championship, and is also making its competitive debut in the Polo R WRC in Portugal. In order to ensure they are perfectly in tune with each other when it comes to on-board communication, the duo has competed in national rallies in Finland and Norway. Andreas Mikkelsen faces the new challenge of writing the pace notes in English and then implementing them at race speed as Mikko Markkula reels them off. 

Qualifying times:  Pos  Driver              Team/Car      Time       Gap  1.  Dani Sordo          Citroen       3m01.618s  2.  Sebastien Ogier     VW            3m02.318s  + 0.700s  3.  Jari-Matti Latvala  VW            3m02.473s  + 0.855s  4.  Mads Ostberg        M-Sport Ford  3m02.519s  + 0.901s  5.  Mikko Hirvonen      Citroen       3m02.591s  + 0.973s  6.  Evgeny Novikov      M-Sport Ford  3m03.228s  + 1.610s  7.  Thierry Neuville    M-Sport Ford  3m03.681s  + 2.063s  8.  Andreas Mikkelsen   VW            3m07.621s  + 6.003s  9.  Nasser Al-Attiyah   M-Sport Ford  3m08.246s  + 6.628s 10.  Khalid Al Qassimi   Citroen       3m08.296s  + 6.678s 11.  Martin Prokop       Czech Ford    3m09.486s  + 7.868s 12.  Michal Kosciuszko   Italia Mini   3m12.067s  + 10.449s 13.  Dennis Kuipers      M-Sport Ford  3m13.857s  + 12.239s

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