Ogier scores first championship points for Volkswagen in Mexico

By taking eighth place overall the Volkswagen factory team successfully finished the test run at the Mexico Rally, the third round of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship, and gathered valuable experience for fielding the Polo R WRC from 2013 on. Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (F/F) finished ahead of three more powerful WRC cars and scored the first four championship points. Volkswagen Junior Kevin Abbring (NL) and his new co-driver Frédéric Miclotte (B) were struck by misfortune. After having set good initial times they were forced to retire in the second Škoda Fabia S2000 due to technical problems on the 16th special stage.

“The extremely stony gravel tracks at an altitude of over 2,000 metres make the Mexico Rally one of the most demanding rallies for ‘man and material,’” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “We’ve gathered conclusive measurements for the development of the Polo R WRC. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia did a very good job. It’s a shame that Kevin Abbring and Frédéric Miclotte suffered a bit of misfortune as they’d been running at a nice, fast past up to that point in time. The enthusiasm of the Mexican rally fans is fantastic. And it’s a good feeling to note that the Volkswagen brand has so many fans in Mexico.”

Rally Mexico delivered spectacular rally racing on 22 special stages and 380 timed kilometres around Leon, a city with a population of 1.3 million, in front of a crowd of enthusiastic fans. 65 thousand frenetic fans celebrated the rally racers like pop stars at the ceremonial start in Guanajuato, a city that is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. “It’s fantastic to drive past the fans through the narrow alleys and tunnels. It’s definitely the best starting stage on the whole calendar,” raved Sébastien Ogier. And co-driver Julien Ingrassia added, “It’s a pure feeling of goose bumps. For me it’s the greatest experience in rallying every year.”

On account of the early starting positions Ogier was struggling with difficult conditions. “When you’re always among the first drivers to go out, there’s still a particularly large amount of gravel on the track,” said the 28-year-old Frenchman. “In addition, the power difference compared with turbo engines is even greater here at altitudes of up to 2,750 metres. On the whole though I’m pleased because I can give the team its first championship points. And in 2013 we’ll be even farther at the front with the Polo R WRC.”

Kevin Abbring with strong performance and misfortune at Mexico debut

As in Monaco, Volkswagen Junior Kevin Abbring showed a strong driving performance. The young Dutchman at times was similarly quick as his team-mate Ogier until technical problems thwarted any hope of scoring a good overall result. The Škoda S2000 first stopped due to a fuel supply problem after the fifth special stage on Friday which caused Abbring/Miclotte to receive a total of 25 penalty minutes and made them drop to the bottom of the standings. After the re-start according to the Rally 2 regulations engine failure on the 16th special stage forced them to retire. “Obviously, I’m disappointed,” said Abbring. “My times weren’t far from those set by Sébastien and in my book he’s one of world’s three best rally racers. And despite the fact that he had some disadvantages due to the unfavourable starting positions I’m proud of having been quicker on three special stages. The collaboration with my new co-driver Frédéric Miclotte was superb. Now I’m looking forward to Portugal because that rally suits me well.”