2012 FIA World Rally Championships Portugal Rally: Volkswagen Motorsport team Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, and Kevin Abbring and Frederic Miclotte

Portugal Rally is the 4th round of the FIA World Rally Championship and is scheduled for March 29 to April 1, 2012. Volkswagen Factory Team’s two French racers Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, and Dutch racer Kevin Abbring and co-driver Frederic Miclotte of Belgium will be taking part. The Volkswagen Motorsport team is well versed with the Lisbon and Algarve regions from their previous participation in Race Touareg in Dakar Rally.

Expectations are high as the team has seen three consecutive S2000 wins and while they are not concentrating on victory the team would like to gain as much experience as possible in WRC with their two Fabia S2000 cars so that they are ready for the 2013 Polo R WRC racing season.

Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director said, “We’re pleased to return to Portugal – we know Lisbon and the Algarve region very well from our runs with the Race Touareg at the Dakar Rally. But now the premises are different. While our expectations are certainly high after three consecutive S2000 class wins, we’re not driving for victory but want to gather as much experience as possible in the WRC by fielding our two Fabia S2000 cars of the Group’s Škoda brand – this serves to prepare our whole team for the 2013 season when we’ll start to run with the new Polo R WRC.”

Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier said “After two victories in the past years I’m obviously pleased to return to Portugal.” “The rally suits me well and I enjoy driving here. But it’s also clear that with our S2000 car we won’t be in contention for overall victory this time but working on our future. For us, it’s still about preparing the whole team as best we can for the debut of the Polo R WRC. Besides the rallies we’re running an intensive test programme with the Polo, most recently on tarmac in Spain.”

Kevin Abbring said “I’m already pretty familiar with Portugal and we’ll be meeting with fiercer competition in our class, that’s why I’m already looking forward to this rally,” says Abbring. “Although we’ll be driving on gravel again the character of the special stages is different. The surface is not as hard as in Mexico, so the tyres provide better grip. In some places the ground may even be really sandy and soft. In addition, we’re expecting some water passages plus three night stages on Thursday – I’m really excited about them as well.”

Portugal Rally 22 special stages will cover a distance of 435 kms. It will also be for the first time that racers will be tested under severe road conditions. Algarve tracks are rough and dusty and tyre wear is the one thing that racers have to contend with especially in this season. Volkswagen’s Ogier is well versed in competing under such severe conditions. It was in 2010 that he scored his first victory at WRC in Portugal and 2011 too saw him being unbeatable which has gained him confidence in competing in Portugal.