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ShowDownUnder: Mikkelsen battles Ogier for victory at the #rally Australia
Runner-up title to put the icing on the cake – Mikkelsen/Jæger keep chances alive
Latvala/Anttila celebrate two best times on day two Down Under
Wolfsburg (19 November 2016). Thrills all the way to the finish for the Polo R #wrc in the World #rally Championship: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) and Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) are going into the final Sunday at the #rallyaustralia in first and second place respectively. The Volkswagen duos are only separated by two seconds - equivalent to 55 metres and 80 centimetres. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ, Hyundai) are a further ten seconds behind in third place. This paper-thin lead will guarantee Mikkelsen/Jæger the runners-up spot title, assuming that they can defend first place until the finish, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai) do not finish higher than fourth and score one point less than Mikkelsen/Jæger on Sunday's final Power Stage. The final 57.18 stage kilometres on Sunday do not leave much room for tactical finesse if Volkswagen intends to claim a 43rd victory in 52 rallies with the Polo R #wrc in the FIA World #rally Championship (WRC). The motto of the day: full throttle to the finish.
The #rally Saturday was characterised by two runs on the legendary "Nambucca" stage. It is 50.80 kilometres in length and represents the longest stage raced against the clock. The main talking points in the morning were the dust and the thick layer of loose gravel, while the afternoon was dominated by skilful husbanding of the Michelin competition tyres. This was the 107th occasion that the three best times had been recorded by the World #rally Car from Wolfsburg, thanks to the best time posted by Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) in the third Polo R #wrc, as well as second place for Ogier/Ingrassia and third place for Mikkelsen/Jæger.
* subject to confirmation from the FIA.
Quotes after day two of the #rally Australia
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R #wrc 1
"That was a perfect day for us. Julien and I decided to take the risk and go for it. I used the boundary markers along the track like a slalom skier, as you can tell from the dents on the bonnet. We put all our eggs in one basket with our tyre selection as well - and luckily, choosing four soft tyres paid off. Before the #rally, I would not have expected us to still have such a good chance in the battle for the win. Tomorrow will be a thrilling day for the fans. Andreas and Hayden will give their all to claim the win, and I also have nothing to lose."
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R #wrc 2
"From a driving point of view, today was definitely one of our better days and I am very pleased with the two best times. However, my mistake yesterday means that I cannot make a decisive contribution to the overall result. So I will be keeping my fingers crossed that my team-mates Sébastien and Andreas cross the finish line at the head of the field. And then, with the whole team, we will raise a glass to the four extraordinary years that we have experienced."
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R #wrc 9
"Sunday will be really interesting, although I could live with a little less tension. We had a great day today, we were always fast and we managed to stay ahead pretty well. We lost some time later on, as some damage to the footwell meant that the clutch and brake pedals were overlapping. That was a strange situation. It doesn't change much about the grand finale tomorrow: whether we lead by two seconds or twelve and more - it will be a tough battle for the victory, and we would be happy to win it. We have to give our all until the finish line - and that is exactly what we intend to do."
Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
"Tomorrow will be our grand finale in the World #rally Championship and we can relive everything we have learned in the last four years: it will be a thrilling battle for the win, right up to the finish line. The two Volkswagen duos have put on a great performance to be ahead at this stage and we are looking forward to the last big show for the Polo R #wrc. I salute Andreas Mikkelsen, Anders Jæger, #sebastienogier and Julien Ingrassia. They got the maximum out of the situation today and have put themselves in a good starting position in the three-way battle with Haydon Paddon. May the best man win tomorrow!"
And then there was ...
... the day of thunder for Volkswagen. Craig Lowndes, a star of the Australian V8 Supercar series, paid a flying visit to the team from Wolfsburg in the Service Park at Coffs Harbour. The driver with the most wins and races in the touring car series - the 42-year-old Red Bull driver has recorded 105 wins in 600 starts on 253 race weekends Down Under - took a look at the FIA World #rally Championship (WRC) and had a chat with Andreas Mikkelsen, #sebastienogier and Jari-Matti Latvala.
Provisional result after day two of the #rally Australia
01. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, 2h 15m 06.2s
02. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 2.0s
03. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 12.0s
04. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 33.8s
05. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 59.2s
06. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 1m 00.6s
07. Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (F/F), Ford, + 1m 21.7s
08. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 2m 19.9s
09. Lorenzo Bertelli/Simone Scattolin (I/I), Ford, + 4m 56.6s
10. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 5m 22.7s
11. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen, + 7m 33.8s
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