Volkswagen factory drivers Sebastien Ogier co-driver Julien Ingrassia in 7th place pick up World Championship points at Rally Argentina in the S2000 class

Volkswagen factory driver Sebastien Ogier alongside co-driver Julien Ingrassia bagged World Championship points at this weekends race, making it their 3rd consecutive finish with points. The drivers came in 7th at Rally Argentina to claim points in the S2000 class. The team of Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene had raced well but a suspension defect forced the team to retire their Fabia late into the race.

With 19 special stages that include gravel tracks outlined by dangerous cliffs, jumps, fast sections, and water splashes, the rally centre in Villa Carlos Paz near Cordoba is challenging. The VW motorsports team was left wiser in regards to stage knowledge, technique and tactics along the stages of up to 65 kilometres in length.

With both Volkswagen crews’ just seconds apart, the stage was set for an exciting race, and bot teams took chances at setting best times. The Škoda Fabia driven by the two man team of Ogier/Ingrassia (F/F) and Mikkelsen/Fløene (N/N) had to retire because of a defect on the front right suspension after covering about 440 of 503 special stage kilometers at which time, both Skoda Fabia cars were separated by 1.5 seconds.

Press Release: Volkswagen driver Ogier scores points after thrilling duel

Just reward for a punishing weekend: Volkswagen factory driver Sebastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia have scored World Championship points for the third consecutive time after finishing seventh in the Rally Argentina and claimed the S2000 class victory. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene staged an exciting battle from the very beginning with their team mates, but had to retire their Fabia within sight of the finish due to a suspension defect.

“Our good experiences continue in Argentina: not just three victories in the Dakar Rally, but this test event in the WRC will also remain in our memories for a long time,” explained Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “It was the longest WRC rally held for years and because of its character one of the hardest for man and machine. The thrilling head-to-head duel between Ogier and Mikkelsen impressed the spectators and provided us with a great deal of data and knowledge at the same time. The team did a perfect job to match in preparing and entering the cars and also the overseas logistic. We were well equipped and are already looking forward to 2013 when we will roll across the start ramp in Argentina with Polo R WRC.”

The 19 special stages around the rally centre in Villa Carlos Paz near Cordoba included tight and twisty gravel tracks lined by dangerous cliffs, fast sections, innumerable jumps and spectacular water splashes. The difficult, changing conditions along the stages of up to 65 kilometres in length required permanent concentration from the teams and plenty of skill when choosing tyres – ideal conditions for the Volkswagen squad to gain valuable experience with regard to stage knowledge, technique and tactics in competition. The two Volkswagen crews separated by just seconds staged an exciting duel, alternatively recorded best times and probed the limits of their Škoda Fabia in direct competition. Ogier/Ingrassia (F/F) and Mikkelsen/Fløene (N/N) had long since won the hearts of the thousands of fans with their hypnotic fight on the special stages before a defect on the front right suspension of Mikkelsen’s car ended the contest after around 440 of 503 special stage kilometres. At this time the two were separated by a mere 1.5 seconds.

“It was a very interesting and exciting rally for us. The inter-team duel with Andreas was the hardest up to now and we had to try everything to be quicker. It’s a shame that both the cars didn’t make the finish,” said Sébastien Ogier (28) who now holds 10th position in the WRC with 16 points. “The team richly deserves the World Championship points, since the engineers and mechanics did a flawless job throughout the four days. The tyre strategy was also crucial for our good result. We managed our tyres very well, so we were quick till the end. Participating in the rally was very valuable for the drivers and the whole team because we have now familiarised ourselves with the long stages, know much more about the entire rally and can now prepare meticulously for next year.”

Mikkelsen was extremely satisfied despite his retirement. “We put in a great performance on our first appearance here. We could run the same pace as our team mates and didn’t make any big mistakes. Even though we didn’t make it to the finish we can be very proud of our performance,” said Mikkelsen for whom the defect came as surprise. “To start it felt like a flat tyre because the car didn’t turn left well. Then the suspension broke suddenly,” said the 22-year old Škoda UK driver who competes together with co-driver Ola Fløene in selected races in the WRC for Volkswagen. His main priority this year is the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) where he aims to defend his title and currently leads the overall standings.

This year Volkswagen Motorsport fields two Fabia, from group brand Škoda, in the FIA World Rally Championship in order to prepare in competition for its entry with the Polo R WRC in 2013.