Two Volkswagen drivers, led by Sebastien Ogier, stood on the Rally Portugal podium on Sunday as the team surged to the top of the manufacturer’s championship.
Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia won the Rally Portugal ahead of Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen and VW’s Jari-Matta Latvala.
Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, the VW board member responsible for technical management was present at the event and said: ‘It was great to be present at such a magnificent success.
‘I was very impressed by the manner in which the team earned this success, and how delighted they were by it. It is just fantastic to see how well the entire team is working together. This provides great backing for our drivers, who did an extraordinary job.’
The second gravel rally of the season presented narrow and winding passages, rough and stony surfaces and fast sections tackled at full throttle in what was described as the toughest encountered in the season so far.
Early in the stage, the top two drivers made the decision to save their tyres for the final ‘power stage’ where bonus points were available for the top three crews on the 52.3km special stage. Starting on fresh Michelin tyres, Ogier picked up three bonus points for the fastest ‘power stage time’, while Latvala earned an extra point for his third spot.
Newcomers Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Mikko Markkula enjoyed their first outing of the season in the third Polo R WRC to finish sixth overall with eight championship points.
Volkswagen, after the fourth round of the 2013 World Rally Championship, is now top in the manufacturer stakes and Ogier has also extended his lead in the drivers’ championship with this, his third win of the season.