- Jan 17, 2015
As the World Rally Championship moves to Latin America for the Rally Argentina some of the Championship’s leading drivers having given their thoughts on the last round and their ambitions for the next.
The WRCs fastest resident Belgian and Hyundai works driver Thierry Neuville put on hell of a performance. His speed was a shock to all as he set fastest times on a few of the events stages , however, he knows the car is far from being fast enough and had this to say ,“It’s positive and we have some improvement, but it doesn’t really help. We are probably missing more than 15hp and we got one or two more, so there’s still a lot left.” He continued, “In Mexico it was like that on the first day. On twisty roads we were also quite good. But after that it was much more difficult to do the same times as Ogier. He beat us by 5.8sec on the Power Stage - and that shows me we are far from the pace.” Despite this, he is carrying bags of confidence into the next round despite finishing down the leader board due to an off on day two of Mexico and will have a much more favorable position on the road if the rain of the last few years stays away from the event.
Likewise, Andreas Mikkelsen is looking for a much better Portugal than in recent years, but his performance so far for the season have all proven that he’s getting better with experience and it shows, as he has had three third place finishes for the year and is in a fine second place in the championship. Speaking ahead of Portugal he said “I’ve always struggled a little bit in Portugal in previous years to be on the pace, but I believe what we did in Mexico gives me the confidence to go fast there.” Come next event hell have the ‘faster and lighter’ 2015 specification Volkswagen Polo R and with his increased confidence and pace as he tackle Argentina for the second time in the Polo he’s going to be a serious threat to Ogier dominance, he however taking things in stride “You can go fast, but then you probably do a mistake and you can retire. To be like ‘Seb Ogier’ and the other guys who are really putting in good stage times and consistency, it has to do with experience.”
Next is Martin Prokop, who, over the past three seasons has been one of the most consistent drivers let alone privateers as he is a driver that is hardly ever seen doing rally 2 and is constantly coming in the top ten. His style of driving has seen him bag valuable points this year and he turns to an event that he got his best ever finish of fourth place. Looking back on Mexico he said this “I have gone really carefully in Mexico in previous seasons, but this time I drove well, it was the smallest time gap to Ogier and the best guys at the front, so I wasn’t driving too carefully but I stayed on the road and the car was in one piece all the time. There must be a secret! I hope we can do it again on the next difficult events in Argentina, Portugal, and Sardinia. I like Argentina a lot. I did my best result there when I was fourth in 2012”
Lastly, Robert Kubica has had a tough year this far, he started his own team having split from under the M-Sport umbrella and has found it difficult to finish in the points despite showing stage and rally winning pace. Speaking on Mexico he said “It was a bit of a mixed rally for us, with the mistake in El Chocolate and a few too many punctures, but in other places we showed good speed.”There is no denying his speed but he like Kris Meeke, can’t seem to keep the car on the road long enough to get in the podium fight even though he is having to get accustomed to the new tyres he is using this year after switching to Pirelli however, he confident in a good finish in Argentina after having good success in recent years, “Argentina has been good to me in the past and last year my finish position was good, even if my driving wasn’t, but this year about 95 per cent of the route is new, so it will be like a new rally. My plan is to gain more experience, do a smooth rally and improve the package.” Well these drivers all get the desired Argentina result that they want or in some cases need? Only time will tell come April 26th.