WRC Rally Argentina: Mikkelsen retires en-route to SS4

Andreas Mikkelsen joins team-mate Sebastien Ogier on the Rally Argentina sidelines as Volkswagen suffers it second technical problem of the day
Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen has retired from Rally Argentina on the road section to SS4 this afternoon.

Volkswagen said a technical problem was to blame and the Norwegian will now re-start on Saturday under Rally 2.

VW had already lost Championship leader and pre-event favourite Sebastien Ogier this morning due to a technical issue.

Mikkelsen had endured a difficult start to the fourth round in WRC 2015, losing almost 2 minutes in SS2 with a puncture and then just over 3 minutes in SS3 with suspension problems. He finished the first loop on Friday in 13th, 4mins 43.7secs off the leader, Kris Meeke.

“Today was definitely not our day,” Mikkelsen noted. “'Standard' tyre damage turned out to be the biggest possible setback. Hindsight is a wonderful thing: but it would have been better if we had changed the flat tyre straight away. The tyre came away from the rim, the many blows damaged the damper and then it ended up being useless on the next stage because it was no longer absorbing anything. On top of this massive blow, the servo pump also broke.

“Our mechanics did a fantastic job; they practically built a new car in 30 minutes [in the mid-day service], but couldn't keep it in the race. I feel really sorry for them. Overall I am obviously disappointed with the result and would love to have continued my fantastic start to the season. But we'll be back again tomorrow, and will try to gain as much experience as possible and then really go for it on the Power Stage on Sunday to pick up some points for the championship.”

Meanwhile, Hyundai third driver Hayden Paddon was also forced to call it a day before SS4. He had been running eighth overall, despite a catalogue of issues on the opening loop. Like Mikkelsen, he will also rejoin under Rally 2.

“It was definitely a tough morning for us,” Paddon said. “In the long first stage this morning, after just three kilometres we broke the gearbox mounts, and that led to a host of other issues with the car as the stage continued. We couldn't do anything about it so had to nurse the car to lunchtime service.

“Unfortunately, the car's exhaust manifold was broken so the team couldn't fix it for the afternoon loop. It was a shame because a good result was definitely possible. We knew the rally conditions would be rough but it's even harder than we expected.

"These things happen but the team will work hard to fix the car so we can return under Rally 2 and continue our learning at this event.”

by Rob Wilkins

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Andreas Mikkelsen ,Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC, #9 Volkswagen Motorsport II)

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