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).