Sunday | 02 Mar 2014

VW trio face ‘Herculean task’

The boss of Volkswagen’s WRC programme says his three drivers will face a huge disadvantage at this week’s Rally Mexico due to their early positions in the start order.

Rally Mexico’s loose gravel stages are notorious for their cleaning effect because with every car that passes, more and more of the thick layer of gravel is cleared from the road.

Rules regarding the starting order in the WRC were revamped ahead of the 2014 season. Start order qualifying was scrapped, and day one start positions are instead based on the drivers’ championship, which puts the Polo R trio of Jari-Matti Latvala, Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen first, second and fourth on the road respectively.

“Our drivers have a Herculean task ahead of them,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “Their positions at the top of the World Championship mean they may – or must – open the route.

“Despite this huge handicap, I firmly believe that Jari-Matti, Sébastien and Andreas will provide the odd bit of magic here and there, and hopefully surprise everyone.”

Defending champion Ogier, who won in Mexico last year, felt Friday’s opening day of stages in the hills around Leon would be crucial to success.

“My starting position is definitely better than that of my team-mate Jari-Matti, but the guys behind us will have even better conditions. As such, we will have to perform as well as possible on the opening day, in order not to throw away any hopes of victory early on,” he said.