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After three triumphant victories for Volkswagen at the Rally Dakar, the Volkswagen Motorsport team is now looking to build on its success in South America and is highly motivated ahead of the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (01–04 May) – the Rally Argentina.

Looking back: the works team from Wolfsburg won the Rally Dakar in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and is unbeaten in Argentina so far. However, looking ahead is equally pleasing: the team arrives at this year’s rally leading the Manufacturers’ Championship, with its driver Sébastien Ogier at the top of the Drivers’ Championship and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia leading the co-driver competition. The Rally Argentina forms the third gravel rally of Volkswagen’s debut season in the WRC and thus represents the next big challenge. The event consists of seven special stages, each of which is tackled twice. A number of these are true WRC classics, making the Rally Argentina a real test for man and machine.

“The season has been perfect so far for Volkswagen,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The reliability of the whole package was outstanding at the first four events. Whether the Polo R WRC, our drivers, or the team – together, we got the absolute maximum out of the package. We now face another new challenge, in the form of the Rally Argentina. You must not forget that the Polo R WRC is a brand-new car, which is once again making a debut here. Despite the success of the opening rallies, we travel to South America with a cool head.”

Typical Argentina: great demands and huge enthusiasm

A gravel surface, set against the backdrop of craggy rocks, and a rapturous welcome: the Rally Argentina is one of the highlights of the WRC calendar. Special stages like “El Condor” and “Mina Clavero/Giulio Cesare” are true classics and famous around the world. “El Condor”, for example, is defined by its diverse range of challenges: tight hairpins are followed by fast, wide corners. The “Mina Clavero/Giulio Cesare” is a completely different beast: while this special stage makes up the first part of the route up to the summit at 2,100 metres above sea level, “El Condor” heads downhill into the valley. When it comes to the characteristic of the two stages, the main difference is the weather – the sun is often still shining on the “Mina Clavero/Giulio Cesare” special stage, while “El Condor” is still shrouded in thick fog.

Undefeated in South America: Volkswagen back at the scene of its greatest success

Like a home race: when Volkswagen lines up at the Rally Argentina, it will mark the return of the works team from Wolfsburg to the continent, on which it enjoyed its greatest sporting success to date. In March 2005, the Volkswagen Race Touareg won the Rally por las Pampas through Argentina to claim its maiden triumph in marathon rallying. The first of three milestones in the works commitment to desert rallies followed in 2009, with victory at the Rally Dakar: this was the first win for a diesel-powered vehicle at the toughest endurance rally in the world, and was also the first time the route had taken competitors through Argentina and Chile. Volkswagen repeated its success in 2010 and 2011 – claiming all three podium places on both occasions. In 2012, Volkswagen lined up in the Super-2000 category of the World Rally Championship with its Group brand Škoda. Not only did it triumph in the Super-2000 class at the fifth round of the season – the Rally Argentina – but also finished an excellent seventh overall with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F).

Market leader in Argentina: Volkswagen the dominant force on the streets

Two production plants, 89 branches, and a market share of almost 25 per cent in the automobile sector: the Volkswagen Group increased his market leadership in Argentina last year. In 2012, the group sold 170,763 vehicles to customers. The overriding image on the streets is that of Volkswagen, making the Rally Argentina something of a home race for the WRC team from Wolfsburg. As well as the plant in Pacheco, Volkswagen also runs the plant in Córdoba, which was opened in 2001 and is located not far from the route of the World Rally Championship event.

Quotes ahead of the Rally Argentina

Jari-Matti Latvala, Polo R WRC #7
“Third place in Portugal was a big moment for me, as it was a tough start to the season. The first three rallies simply did not go well. The podium finish in Portugal relieved the pressure I had put on myself. There was absolutely no pressure from the team – it was purely about the expectations I have of myself. As such, the podium in Portugal was very important to me. I am looking forward to Argentina. The special stages on the Saturday look as though you are driving on the moon, the boulders to the left and right are so huge. Some of the gravel roads are also very narrow, so there is little room to drift when exiting the corners. The roads are even narrower than in Portugal in places. However, there are also special stages, on which the route is wider and you can go a bit quicker. You have to steer really precisely, particularly on the Saturday. That is why I like these stages, especially ‘El Condor’.”

Sébastien Ogier, Polo R WRC #8
“After the three victories, we obviously want to continue where we left off and, ideally, defend our lead in the championship until the end of the season. For now, however, we would be happy with another podium in Argentina. I am looking forward to the duel with Sébastien Loeb. We had a great battle in Sweden, and it will be anything but easy again here. However, my main focus is on my rivals in the World Championship. The Rally Argentina may at first glance be just another gravel rally, but that first impression can be deceptive, as the ground is really soft and sandy. This means that the roads have often been cut up quite badly by the second run in the afternoon, and this puts the material under even greater strain. I really like the Rally Argentina, especially because of the fantastic atmosphere. At very few other places do so many fans flock to the special stages and service park.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Polo R WRC #9
“Looking back, I am generally very happy with the result of my first rally for Volkswagen in Portugal. It is now time to look ahead, as there are still some areas in which we can improve. As such, I can hardly wait for the start of the Rally Argentina. I am not concerned about my results. They will come sooner or later. It is all about gaining as much experience as possible. I am approaching the Rally Argentina full of confidence, as I lined up there last year in the Škoda Fabia S2000. I was involved in a nice duel with Sébastien Ogier before I had to retire shortly before the end of the rally. Despite this, I have fond memories of Argentina, and my co-driver Mikko Markkula also has experience of the Rally Argentina. I am already really looking forward to my second start in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC.”

Volkswagen in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)

In entering the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Volkswagen is adding another chapter to its motorsport success story. Volkswagen claimed overall victory at the Rally Dakar with the Race Touareg in 2009, 2010 and 2011 – celebrating a hat-trick of titles at the toughest marathon rally in the world. The Polo R WRC is the first World Rally Car produced by the Wolfsburg-based company, which now lines up with its own works team in the pinnacle of rallying. The series offers Volkswagen the opportunity to prove itself on a global platform in direct sporting competition. No model is more suited to the challenge than the Polo – one of Volkswagen’s most heavily produced and distributed models in the world.

Did you know ...

... Volkswagen consultant Carlos Sainz is revered by the fans in Argentina? “El Matador” not only won the Rally Argentina in 1991, 2002 and 2004, but also claimed victory there at the legendary Rally Dakar in 2010 with Volkswagen.

... Carlos Sainz’s co-driver Luis Moya, who was at his side for the WRC victories in 1991 and 2002, is also working for Volkswagen now? He looks after media guests on site and uses his immense specialist knowledge to give small talks on the World Rally Championship.

... Sébastien Loeb holds the record for the most victories at the Rally Argentina? The Citroën driver has won on seven occasions around Córdoba. In 2013, the Rally Argentina once again features on the schedule of the nine-time world champion, who has opted only to compete in a limited number of rallies this season.

... Argentina is set for a re-match between Ogier and Loeb? Ogier won this year’s Rally Sweden, while Loeb emerged victorious at the opening round of the season, the iconic “Monte”.

... the Argentinean fans are renowned for their campfires and barbecues along the rally route? Bold statement: wherever there are more than three Argentineans lining the route of a special stage, the barbecue will already be lit.

... the Rally Argentina features seven different special stages, each of which is tackled twice?

... the Argentinean fans benefit from Labour Day? A Super Special Stage will be held in “Parque Temático”, on the way into Villa Carlos Paz, to mark the public holiday.

... the town of Villa Carlos Paz is also the base for the Rally Argentina?

... the “Ascochinga–Agua de Oro” special stage in the north of the Córdoba region is the longest special stage on the rally and, at 51.88 kilometres, is one of the longest on the WRC calendar?

... the winner will be presented with his trophy on the waterfront (“Waterkant”) in Villa Carlos Paz?

... the service park for the Rally Argentina is located on the banks of the “San Roque” lake?

... Andreas Mikkelsen’s co-driver Mikko Markkula, who will line up at his second rally for Volkswagen in Argentina, has already won the Rally Argentina? The event formed part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in 2010 – Markkula won in a Škoda, at the side of Juho Hänninen.

The number for the Rally Argentina: 11,771.841

The journey to the Rally Argentina is the longest non-stop flight provided by Lufthansa and involves travelling once around the earth. The distance between the Volkswagen Motorsport department in Hannover and the service park in Villa Carlos Paz is 11,771.841 kilometres as the crow flies. However, the three Polo R WRCs do not take the direct route. Their journey began on 20th April in a securely-packed air freight container in Hannover, from where they were taken by truck to Amsterdam. The cars were then flown to Buenos Aires on a cargo plane, before completing their journey to Villa Carlos Paz by truck.

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