Volkswagen enjoyed another dominating run in the latest round of the 2015 WRC season, taking every position on the podium in Portugal. Standing at top honors was Jari-Matti Latvala, who managed to stave off a hard charge from defending world champion Sebastien Ogier, ending the weekend only 8.2 seconds ahead of his teammate. At third was Andreas Mikkelsen, who finished 20.4 seconds behind the rally leader.
Latvala managed to capitalize on his back marker starting position by shooting to the top position Friday afternoon, taking full advantage of the cleaner road conditions offered by the swept gravel stages. It was the 13th career victory for the 30-year-old driver, who had not seen a win since October of 2014.
“After the last three rallies some people were doubting if I would come back,” Latvala told WRC.com. “It was one of the worst situations in my rally career so to come and win here is unique. I really appreciate this victory feeling.”
With a fresh infusion of points, Latvala climbs from ninth to fifth in the driver’s championship. Meanwhile, Ogier increased his championship lead to a 42-point margin.
Northern Irishman Kris Meeke, who clinched victory in the previous round at Argentina, was the only challenger to VW’s dominance, becoming embroiled in a fight with Mikkelsen for third. Unfortunately for Meeke, a broken anti-roll bar on his Citroen DS3 allowed Mikkelsen to slip by, knocking him back to fourth place.
Next, the WRC heads to Italy for more gravel at the Rally Italia Sardegna June 11th through 14th.
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