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WRC 2016, Round 3/14 – Rally México (March 3/6)

WRC 2016

Round 3, Rally México

Entry list

Noticeboard

Rally Maps

LIVE text, results & split times

LIVE Stream

Radio

Volkswagen Motorsport LIVE

Autosport LIVE Commentary

Testing

Volkswagen Motorsport:

Jari-Matti Latvala, 22.2.2016

Andreas Mikkelsen, 24.2.2016

M-Sport World Rally Team:

Mads Østberg, 24.2.2016

Eric Camilli, 25.2.2016

Ott Tänak, 23.2.2016

Timetabe

Thursday 3 March

Shakedown (Llano Grande) (5.55 km) 9:00
Pre-event FIA Press Conference 13:30
Ceremonial Start 20:00
SS 1 Street Stage Guanajuato (1.09 km) 20:10
SS 2 Autodromo León 1 (2.30 km) 21:30
SS 3 Autodromo León 2 (2.30 km) 21:35

Competitive distance: 5.69 km (Liaison 127.23 km, Total 130.62 km)

Friday 4 March

Service A (León – Rally Campus) 8:00
SS 4 El Chocolate 1 (54.21 km) 9:18
SS 5 Las Minas 1 (15.36km) 10:41
SS 6 Street Stage León 1 (1.41 km) 12:14
Service B (León – Rally Campus) 12:54
SS 7 El Chocolate 2 (54.21 km) 14:27
SS 8 Las Minas 2 (15.36 km) 15:50
SSS 9 Autodromo León 3 (2.30 km) 17:20
SSS 10 Autodromo León 4 (2.30 km) 17:25
Service C (León – Rally Campus) 18:20

Competitive distance: 145.15 km (Liaison 247.79 km, Total 390.64 km)

Saturday 5 March

Service D (León – Rally Campus) 8:00
SS 11 Ibarrilla (30.38 km) 8:53
SS 12 Otates 1 (42.62 km) 10:11
SS 13 El Brinco 1 (7.15 km) 11:14
Service E (León – Rally Campus) 12:59
SS 14 Agua Zarca 1 (16.47 km) 14:08
SS 15 Otates 2 (42.62 km) 15:36
SS 16 El Brinco 2 (7.15 km) 16:39
SSS 17 Autodromo León 5 (2.30 km) 17:34
SSS 18 Autodromo León 6 (2.30 km9 17:39
Service F (León – Rally Campus) 18:34
SS 19 Street Stage León 2 (1.41 km) 20:35

Competitive distance: 152.40 km (Liaison 191.03 km, Total 341.13 km)

Sunday 6 March

Service G (León – Rally Campus) 7:00
SS 20 Guanajuato (80.00 km) 8:03
SS 21 Agua Zarca 2 [Power Stage] (16.47 km) 12:08
Service H (León – Rally Campus) 13:41
Finish Podium Ceremony 14:30
Post Event FIA Press Conference 15:30

Rally total:
21 special stages
Stage distance: 399.71 km
Total distance: 1077.08 km

Preview

Rally Mexico, the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship, marks the start of a run of six gravel rallies. But, even after two specialised events in Monte-Carlo and Sweden, the first event outside Europe is going to provide yet more unique challenges, not least of which is an 80 kilometre stage, the longest in the Championship for nearly 30 years

Crews will need to be in peak condition to cope with such an intense period of competition, made even more challenging when the route takes the crews to oxygen-sapping heights of up to 2,800 metres above sea level. Preparation and strategy for this single stage, run as the penultimate test on Sunday, will be key.

Rally Mexico continues to be based in the city of León, 400 kilometres north-west of Mexico City, and the largely familiar route takes the contenders into the hot and dusty Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains. Four stages will be broadcast live; SS1 (Thursday), SS9/10 (Friday), SS14 on Saturday and its re-run as the Power Stage on Sunday (SS21).

THE 2016 ROUTE

Rally Mexico kicks off with its traditional start ceremony in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Guanajuato, one of the highlights of the season where fans cram the streets for a fun and colourful rally fiesta. Three short stages follow that night before the crews head into the mountains on Friday and Saturday for a mix of gravel tests as well as street and super special stages. While Saturday is the longest day of the event, rounded off by a short night stage in León, Sunday could potentially bring a real sting in the tail. The 80-kilometre Guanajuato stage will be an epic early morning test before the surviving crews head into the closing Power Stage.

RALLY DATA

Total distance: 1077.08 km
Stage distance: 399.71 km (37%)
Number of stages: 21

Team Previews

Manufacturers: Volkswagen Motorsport / Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Michelin)
1 Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (F)
2 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (FIN)

Team Manufacturer: Volkswagen Motorsport II / Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Michelin)
9 Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (N)

A milestone, a possible record, the longest special stage and the shortest stage of the year. This year’s Rally Mexico is set to be a memorable one, and could be a historic event for Volkswagen – as it could for the reigning world champion, who reaches another milestone in Mexico.

Sébastien Ogier feels right at home in Mexico. He has been keen to stress this in advance of the rally. Not that he particularly needs to: a glance at his past record there is quite enough to prove his point. This is where the Frenchman’s World Rally Championship career began back in 2008 – with victory in the Junior class. For the past three years, Ogier has returned to Central America to continue his own personal success story there with the Polo R WRC. Now Ogier is back where it all began eight years ago – and with cause for celebration. The reigning world champion lines up in the WRC for the 100th time, with nobody needing to tell him the best way to celebrate this anniversary. A fourth back-to-back win in the World Championship would also see the Frenchman complete four victories in a row in Mexico.

The burden of having to open the gravel route makes this a difficult undertaking – but far from an impossible one. Ogier proved this last year, when he triumphed courtesy of a clever tyre selection and some truly outstanding driving.

Sébastien Ogier is not the only person, for whom an early starting position could prove problematic. Andreas Mikkelsen follows the Frenchman onto the route and will not necessarily be greeted by better road conditions than the world championship leader ahead of him. Things look more promising in this regard for the third of the Volkswagen trio. Hounded by bad luck in the opening two rallies of the season, Jari-Matti Latvala is still looking for his first points of the year. However, he can now look forward to a later start and consequently better conditions out on the route.

The Rally Mexico could also be a historic event for Volkswagen. The Wolfsburg-based car maker is gunning for its twelfth WRC victory in a row in the land of cacti. Should it achieve this feat, it would equal the current record. Held by? The Volkswagen Polo R WRC, from Australia 2013 to Finland 2014.

There is plenty to get excited about in Mexico, and there should be no lack of spectacular action at the first gravel rally of the year – the organisers have made certain of that. The event is already regarded as a challenge for man and machine. The highest point of the rally is at 2,746 metres above sea level, higher than any other point on the WRC calendar. Nowhere is the air thinner than here. Short and sweet – this is the motto for the opening stage. At just 1.09 kilometres, the shortest stage of the season takes competitors through the tunnels of Guanajuato. In sharp contrast, the crews must cover a full 80 kilometres against the clock on the penultimate stage of the rally, which is the longest of the season and also the longest since 1983. So, no doubt: history will be made in Mexico.

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The Rally Mexico will be the 100th of my career. A victory would be the best way to celebrate this but it will not be easy. I am really looking forward to the first gravel rally of the season. I have many great memories of Mexico and the fantastic fans there. My career began with a victory in the Junior World Championship here eight years ago – that was a dream come true for me. The last three visits to Mexico have been very successful for us. One of the key factors is the mountain air, and our Volkswagen Polo R WRC has always dealt very well with that. I hope that this will also be the case in 2016. Julien and I will not be over-confident and will be as focussed as ever when the rally begins.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Mexico will be the first gravel rally of the year and the surface is normally pretty hard. This is covered with a layer of finer gravel, which makes the surface as a whole very slippery. The surface becomes cleaner and faster as more cars drive over it. This means that it is an advantage to start the stages later – as long as it is not raining. That can happen in Mexico, but it’s relatively unlikely. I had some bad luck in Monte Carlo and Sweden. Of course, it looks bad when you have two poor results in a row, especially at the start of the season. However, I am trying to stay optimistic and I’m sure that things will go better for me now. The trophies will only be handed out at the end of the season! I’m hoping that the weekend goes smoothly in Mexico.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Although things didn’t go as planned for us in Sweden, I’m pleased with the season so far. Now we are off to Mexico – this rally is a great event and I am looking forward to driving on gravel again. Compared to last year, there are a few new special stages. “Guanajuato” on Sunday is 80 kilometres long. That will be a big challenge for us and also for the Polo R WRC. It is important to keep your energy levels up, to ensure that you can concentrate over such a long distance. I have never driven such a long special stage, but Anders and I are looking forward to it. The mountain air in Mexico is also a unique challenge. We are going to arrive early so that we have enough time to acclimatise ourselves.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“We have to deal with extreme situations in Mexico. The special stages are the highest of the entire season; we will face the longest stage of the year, and the shortest too in the tunnels of Guanajuato. We travel to Mexico with Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen in first and second place in the World Championship standings – this is anything but an easy task, as they must deal with the disadvantage of opening the route. Jari-Matti Latvala also has a good starting position in eighth. The chance of claiming a twelfth straight victory and equalling our own record gives us a bit more motivation. However, we will have our work cut out at the first gravel rally of the year, due to the very strong field there. We have never shied away from a challenge, and we are looking forward to Mexico.”

Manufacturers: Hyundai Motorsport / Hyundai i20 NG WRC (Michelin)
3 Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (B)
4 Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti (E)

Team Manufacturer: Hyundai Motorsport N / Hyundai i20 WRC (Michelin)
20 Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (NZ)

The team is in buoyant mood as we head to Mexico in a bid to maintain our run of podium finishes in this year’s World Rally Championship.

In the opening two rounds of the season, we’ve taken third place in Monte-Carlo with Thierry and a sensational second place in Sweden with Hayden; a great start to our debut season with the New Generation i20 WRC with our first ever back-to-back podiums.

Our team is now aiming to make it three in a row with Thierry, Dani and Hayden lining up in the #3, #4 and #20 cars for the daunting Rally Mexico, where we scored our first ever WRC podium two years ago – in memorable style!

The heat of Rally Mexico will be a welcome relief after the snowy conditions we’ve encountered so far this season. Temperatures as high as 30°C will put pressure on cars and crews with elevation up to 2737 metres which will reduce engine power by as much as 20%.

New features for 2016 include a night stage in León and a monster 80km stage on the final morning, Guanajuato, which become the longest WRC stage since 1983. The itinerary is tough and will test our drivers but they are confident to push our new car to its limit.

“Our team heads to Mexico with a lot of positivity after the performances so far this year,” says Team Principal Michel Nandan. “At the same time, we know that this rally will offer a new set of challenges and demands on our New Generation i20 WRC cars and the team itself. The new car has already proven to be a step forward on its predecessor but we have more to learn on the tough Mexican terrain. We will have to wait and see if we can challenge for the podium again but that’s our objective. This year’s itinerary for Rally Mexico includes an extremely daunting 80km stage on Sunday morning, which will put the cars and crews under immense pressure. There will be no room for error and it adds an extra layer of difficulty to a rally that is already one of the toughest. It will be exciting – and nerve-wracking – to follow. We head to Mexico just five points behind Volkswagen Motorsport in the Manufacturers’ Championship, so we’re more than motivated to fight at the front – and hopefully to make it three podiums in a row!”

Thierry is familiar with success at Mexico and claimed his first WRC podium at the event. He took our team’s first top-three finish in 2014 and in 2015 won three stages.

“I have very positive thoughts about Mexico because it is where I got my first podium in the World Rally Championship,” says the Belgian. “It is also where we got the first podium for Hyundai Motorsport so I am sure the whole team has very good memories as well. We are all looking forward to this year’s event with the beautiful weather and stages as well as running the New Generation i20 WRC at altitude. We sorted out some problems I had with the car from the last rally; everything is running well now and I am pleased with its performance potential. I look forward to taking on the Mexican stages once more and trying to get another top-three finish.”

Dani is also experienced on the Mexican stages, achieving one stage win and five top-three stage finishes in 2015. He will continue to develop his rhythm this year after starting his season with a consistent pair of top-six performances.

“Rally Mexico is a really nice event,” comments the Spaniard, “which has exceptional weather and very picturesque stages. However, the rally is also really high in altitude, so the engines lose a lot of power. This means we have to be very aware of the roads to make sure we get the most speed out of the car as possible. The roads themselves have a really good surface but it can be very different between the first pass and the second, when there can be a lot more grip. This year there will be a very long stage as well, so it will be nice to run that. I am enjoying getting to grips with the New Generation i20 WRC and look forward to continuing this at Mexico. As we get more and more comfortable I look forward to pushing harder for the top-three finishes that I know we can achieve with this car.”

Hayden’s first event in the New Generation i20 WRC saw him finish second at Sweden. He will now continue to adjust to the new car on Mexico’s challenging stages.

“We are really excited to be competing at Mexico again,” says the Kiwi. “It will be great to be in the sun for the first time in a long time after a series of wet and cold rallies. It will be a challenging rally for sure, with some much longer stages than normal, particularly the 80km Guanajuato stage. But we are really looking forward to it, to getting back into the new car, and particularly to do so on the gravel stages that make up Rally Mexico. I felt really good in the car at Sweden and we will look to continue adjusting that feeling on the Mexican stages so that we are comfortable and can really shoot for points. This rally will be all about learning the car and the Mexican roads, and I hope we can bring home another good result.”

Rally Mexico will cover almost 400km across 21 stages in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains, beginning on Thursday night with party atmosphere of the Guanajuato ceremonial start.

Friday will feature high-elevation tests like El Chocolate and Las Minas, before drivers circle back to León on Saturday. Sunday will see the anticipated 80km Guanajuato and a second run of Agua Zarca as the Power Stage.

Manufacturers: M-Sport World Rally Team / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Michelin)
5 Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (N)
6 Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas (F)

M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Éric Camilli could make FIA World Rally Championship history next week as the team are on the brink of securing a record-breaking run of 200 consecutive point finishes. But before the celebrations can begin, the team must master the challenges of Rally Mexico.

Traversing the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains to the north and east of León, the Mexican fixture is the first of six consecutive gravel rallies but has an individuality which sets it apart from the more traditional loose-surface events.

In stark contrast to Rally Sweden, air temperatures can linger around the 30°C mark – with those in the cockpit as high as 50°C. The high temperatures require both driver and co-driver to be in peak physical condition to maintain focus through endurance stages – the toughest of which being the championship’s longest stage since 1983 at a mammoth 80 kilometres.

The route also reaches more than 2,700 metres at its peak which places significant strain on the engines as oxygen-starved air can see performance fall by as much as 20 per cent. The team have made extensive use of Ford’s environmental test laboratory to best simulate the expected conditions, but the crews must adapt their driving style to account for the reduced performance and conducted a comprehensive pre-event test in the hills north of Barcelona this week.

Braking points differ from those on more familiar gravel events and the smallest of mistakes become more difficult to recover. A precise driving style with faultless pacenotes is essential and that is exactly what Østberg and co-driver Ola Fløene have been perfecting.

The Norwegian has form in Mexico. He finished second at the event last year and the last time he took to the wheel of a Fiesta, Sebastian Ogier singled him out as his main rival for the win. The World Champion had good cause to fear Østberg in 2013. The Norwegian led the event and battled for the win until an electrical issue forced him down the standings.

As the third car on the road, Østberg could be disadvantaged by road position, but if everything goes to plan he and Fløene have a strong chance of challenging for another podium result.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Camilli will be experiencing the Mexican stages for the first time. The Frenchman will have a lot to learn and it will be important for him gain as much experience as possible as he builds confidence ahead of the European events.

In order to achieve his goals, he felt it important to introduce some familiarity and will be joined by former co-driver Benjamin Veillas. The pairing have a strong relationship having competed behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5 last year and it’s hoped that the familiarity reignites his season.

Preparations certainly started well for the rookie as he was awarded a podium place at a ceremony that celebrated Nice’s most accomplished sportsmen and women earlier this week.

Mads Østberg said:

“This is one of my favourite events and we have done well there in the past. We finished second last year, and the last time I was behind the wheel of a Fiesta I was leading the rally and challenging for the win.

“This will be my first time driving the latest version of the Fiesta RS WRC on gravel, so there will be an element of getting to grips with everything. Having said that, we had a good test earlier this week and I would hope that we will be able to get up to speed fairly quickly.

“It’s one of those events where you have to be 100 percent focused. The high altitude means that the engines have less power. It’s the same for everyone, but if you make a mistake it is very difficult to get the time back as you can’t get back on the power as quickly as you can at other gravel event.

“Your pacenotes need to be absolutely perfect if you’re going to challenge for the top results, so it’s good that the relationship between Ola and myself is progressing really well. It feels as though we have been sitting together for years, and that’s the sort of confidence you need to do well in Mexico.

“My road position won’t be quite as good as it was last year, but if everything else goes to plan then I think we can still be competitive and hopefully challenge for another strong result.”

Éric Camilli said:

“This will be my first time at Rally Mexico and I am really looking forward to my first gravel event with the Fiesta RS WRC. It’s another new rally so I know that there will be a lot to learn and I’m aware that Mexico is not a typical gravel event.

“The high altitude reduces engine performance so you need to alter your driving style to suit these conditions. There are also some exceptionally long stages – longer than anything I’ve ever experienced – so it will be important to keep focused throughout the weekend.

“I know it will be another big challenge, but we had a good test in the lead up and I’m confident that I’ll be able to get my season back on track.

“I was happy with the speed that we were able to show in the first two rallies, but they didn’t turn out as we had hoped. Now, I need to focus on having a clean run and finishing the next two events so that I can build my confidence ahead of the more familiar European rounds.

“To achieve this, I felt it was important to have some familiarity in the car so Benjamin will join me in Mexico. We worked together last year and established a really good relationship so I hope that will help me achieve my goals next week.

“I must thank Nicolas [Klinger] for his work in the first two rallies. He has a lot of rally experience and I learnt a lot from him in the early part of the season.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“Mexico has become something of a special event for us. We secured a one-two finish when we went there for the first time in 2004, and challenged for the win with Mads in 2013. Last year also saw us achieve the seemingly impossible by raising the ‘TiTanak’.

“This year, it could become the scene of another major achievement for us as we close in on Ford and M-Sport’s 200th consecutive points finish.

“Mads has good form at this event and if everything works in his favour then I think he can be challenging for another strong result. The last time he was here in a Fiesta, Ogier singled him out as his main rival and with good reason. He might be disadvantaged as only the third car on the road, but if everything goes to plan then he has every chance of challenging for another podium.

“For Eric, it will be another steep learning curve. I was impressed by how quickly he was able to get up to speed at both Monte-Carlo and Sweden, but the priority for this event will just be to finish and gain experience. It’s important for him to get two solid finishes under his belt before we head back to Europe where he can start showing his speed on events that he is more familiar with.”

Team Manufacturer: DMACK World Rally Team (M-Sport) / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (DMACK)
12 Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder (EE)

A number of highs related to next week’s Rally Guanajuato Mexico will see the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship provide a huge challenge for DMACK as the series returns to gravel for the first time since September.

High altitudes, high ambient temperatures and high stage distances will all contribute to what’s expected to be one of the toughest editions of this event. However, the challenge is set to peak on the final day when the DMACK World Rally Team tackles a huge 80km stage – the longest test in WRC for over 30 years.

After the asphalt of Monte Carlo and snow of Sweden, Mexico hosts the third different surface in as many events. The stages around Leon are literally the pinnacle of the championship – reaching the highest point of the season at 2737m.

And it’s a compact route, with nearly 40% of the entire distance comprising competitive stages. But the mix of loose and abrasive surfaces, together with high speeds, delivers a real test for tyres and forces drivers and teams to manage their allocation effectively.

DMACK has nominated its DMG+2 tyre, which features some minor revisions from 2015, in the hard S3A compound to provide a mix of performance and durability. The hard compound means tread blocks are stiffer, offering greater high-speed stability and improved durability in the energy-soaking temperatures and rough gravel roads.

Generally punctures are not a huge issue in Mexico and DMACK’s gravel tyre must offer enough protection to give drivers the confidence to carry just one spare and keep weight to a minimum.

Tyre management in Mexico means checking and adjusting tyre pressures, which can rise and fall with altitude changes, and complex tyre changes during each loop of stages to ensure the best possible performance on the long speed tests.

The DMACK World Rally Team crew of Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder will be allowed a maximum of 28 tyres fitted to their M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC next week. The Estonian pair were the stars of last year’s event after submerging their Fiesta in a lake on the opening day and then returning, after a mechanical miracle from M-Sport, to finish the rally.

But 2015 is firmly in the past and Tänak will be aiming to improve on his fifth place in Sweden two weeks ago to consolidate his championship challenge and bolster DMACK’s fifth position in the manufacturer series.

Rally Mexico is renowned for the energetic ceremonial start in the stunningly colourful town of Guanajuato – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Crowds flock from afar to watch the opening street stage running through tunnels under the town on Thursday evening.

The high-action route then switches to the dirt roads traversing the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanjuato mountains. Friday features two passes over the 54.21km El Chocolate test while Saturday boasts two runs through Otates at 42.62km. However, both days are eclipsed by the mammoth Guanajuato test, which could see a final day sting in the tail while also testing drivers’ stamina and physical endurance.

Crews will finish back at the Leon Rally Campus on Sunday afternoon after 21 stages covering 399.71km.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Once again the Rally Mexico organisers have put together an itinerary which will really test tyres and drivers. We’ve got some long distances between tyre changes so a clever strategy to manage tyre wear will be crucial. However, we have good experience from this event and we’re confident again in our products.”

Ott Tänak said: “It’s really nice to be going to Mexico, it’s an event I enjoy and the atmosphere and energy, especially at the start, is something really special. The rally is always a big challenge. It’s the first hot rally of the season and every day has got some very long stages – this is a challenge that I enjoy. The final day will be something special and I’m looking forward to it a lot.”

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Rally Mexico
Pre-event Press Conference
Thursday 3th March

Present:
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Motorsport
Martin Prokop, Jipocar Czech National Team
Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport
Benito Guerra
Eric Camilli, M-Sport World Rally Team

Q:
Jari-Matti, the 2016 season has got off to a difficult start for you. What are you going to do to make changes here in Mexico?
J-ML:
I think the first thing at this stage is the fact that I am at a press conference! The last one was in Spain and that was after the rally. Now I am here before the rally and I hope it all ends well and I will be here again on Sunday. Yes, the season started in a difficult way for me. Two zero point rallies but we have to keep fighting. I have a good starting position and this rally is very demanding. I need to find a good rhythm, a bit of stage management and make sure I get to the finish.

Q:
You have a great road position here as you say. Can you capitalise on that? How much do you feel the 80 kilometre stage will be a deciding factor in the rally?
J-ML:
The strategy for us is to find a good rhythm and enjoy the rally and see where we are. If we have a chance, then we will go for it. You have to remember this rally is about endurance. It’s the longest of the season and we also have the longest stage of the season. All the stages here are long. You have to see about the driving and tackle the event in a different way. It’s not like Finland, where the roads are wide and you drive flat out. It’s a lot different here. I don’t think the long stage is the most difficult. It is a long stage and is, for sure, a challenge. But, on Friday, we have the El Chocolate stage and that is a demanding and twisty stage with rocks on the side of the road. The 80 kilometre stage is more flowing and the surfaces are clear. During the first two days you will start to see the differences. I don’t believe that the long one will be the deciding stage.

Q:
Martin, welcome back to the WRC. Dakar kept you from Monte-Carlo. How was the experience?
MP:
I enjoyed it. For me, it was something special. I had spent too long in the WRC. I found it a new experience and it gave me great motivation. It was something new. An amazing event – more like an endurance race and it gave me a lot of different experiences. It’s on open roads. Everybody should try it.

Q:
The endurance element could help you here in the long stages?
MP:
The speed of the Dakar guys is different. The cars do not have as much power and not as much braking and grip. There is not so much pressure on the body. Driving the rally car is difficult physically but, on the Dakar, trying to keep the concentration and drive for five or six hours is very demanding. After one or two hours I began thinking about something else. Then I started to improve and, by the end of the event, I was concentrating for six hours at a time.

Q:
What are your plans for this year in WRC?
MP:
That’s a good question, I’m not sure. Maybe four races. I have to decide what to do for the future. I am thinking of the Dakar again, as well circuit races in the next few weeks. I need to choose the right future.

Q:
What is your strategy for this weekend? What are you hoping to achieve?
MP:
I am enjoying it all again. It was difficult after many years to enjoy always the same thing. Rallying should be enjoyable. I need to get into a rhythm as soon as possible. It was my favourite rally here and I hope for a good result.

Q:
Thierry, we have seen Mexico be a strong event for you in the past. What is the aim this time around?
TN:
It’s one of my favourite events. I remember fondly when I got my first podium here in 2013. There is a great history to talk about. I am mainly always motivated when I come here and I have a good speed here. I also have a good road position after Jari-Matti and I can fight for victory.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the 80 kilometre stage, Thierry?
TN:
We should have enough of an advantage over Jari-Matti going into that stage!
JM-L:
Comments like that give me motivation!

Q:
You had a good run at shakedown. Are you happy with the set-up you have?
TN:
Actually I have to mention the roads are very good and in great condition again. But the roads are wider now. The stones and the dirt on the sides of the roads change the characteristic of the stages. I am a bit disappointed for that but I still hope to do well. It’s still a great event.

Q:
What is your goal for the weekend, Thierry?
TN:
Yes, I feel a win is possible. On the last two events we have shown some speed. In Sweden, we should have been on the podium before the technical issues. To fight the for win is the main goal. Jari-Matti will be fast, Ogier as always and there are some guys in front of me to watch out for.

Q:
Benito, it’s always great to see you here at the WRC. What is your aim at Rally Mexico?
BG:
It’s great to be back. It’s been one year since I was in a World Rally Car. The shakedown went well for me. The long Mexican stages are going to be a big challenge for all of us. The 80 kilometre stage is the big challenge this weekend. I am ready to do my best. The first stage in Guanajuato is always for the fans, but gravel tyres on cobbled stones is not easy. The super special has a big jump as well, so that is different. Before, I will watch the other guys to see what they do. The first stage tomorrow is sure to be slippery. With my starting position, it may be a bit clean and we will push if we can.

Q:
Is it good to be back in the car, much testing? How did it feel at the shakedown?
BG:
I didn’t do a real test. It was really a co-driving day for the sponsors. I was not really working in the car. The shakedown was okay for me. I set my best time ever and I think I was the best privateer, so that’s a good way to start the rally. The real thing is in the stages from tomorrow. It is not the real thing tonight.

Q:
Do you have any more events planned this season?
BG:
I am struggling with sponsors, but I miss being in the WRC. In 2012, when we won the Production title, it was my best year ever. I was hoping to move up to the big class but it was difficult to get the sponsors and get there. I went back to basics and some WRC 2 rallies and maybe all the European events is the plan. Next year, maybe, I can do all the season.

Q:
What would your advice be to someone coming here for the first time, like Eric?
BG:
First of all welcome here Eric (Camilli). He has to be calm in the long stages and keep to a pace and stay focused. I say to stay calm and on a good pace and not make any big mistakes. One little mistake here gets you out of the road and that’s the end of a good result

Q:
Eric, it’s your first time here in Mexico and at the rally. How much are you looking forward to this event?
EC:
I am really happy to be here. It’s a nice country and the recce and the shakedown went well. I am back on gravel and that is my favourite surface. I know it will be different, like Benito (Guerra) said, one mistake and it’s finished. I’m looking forward to starting the race this evening.

Q:
Two events with two accidents in Monte and Sweden. How are you feeling about what happened and can you change that here?
EC:
I have forgotten this now. In Monte-Carlo I was unlucky and Sweden was my mistake. I had a wrong pace note and we went off but I forgot this now and I try to concentrate on the race tomorrow. I am not too much worried over this.

Q:
It’s only your eighth gravel rally, isn’t it?
EC:
Yes, it’s not too much. In Sweden, it was my first time on snow. I am here and my job is to finish the race.

Q:
What do you think about the long stage of 80 kilometres?
EC:
You have some fast parts but it is not going to be the most difficult of the race. El Chocolate has some very tight corners and stones. It will be interesting to see. The long stage is a challenge, of course. It took so long to check the pace notes.

Q:
You have changed your co-driver and reverted back to Benjamin Veillas who you used last year. Why is this?
EC:
I want say thank you to Nicolas (Klinger) for his efforts but, for me, Benjamin (Veillas) is my famous co-driver and I am happy to come back with him. Don’t worry about that.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Osvaldo Anaya, Estadio (MEX)

Q:
Jari-Matti, do you have to change your driving style here?
J-ML:
On this event, when you have the long stages you have to divide the stage into sections. In some sections you can attack, this is the element in this rally when you are always challenging. For myself, I take it a bit easier there and then, where it’s wider and faster, I push more. To push everywhere on the long stages is very hard.

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Teemu Suninen
Nicolas Fuchs

Q:
Teemu, it’s your first time at Rally Mexico. You have never experienced the roads or the atmosphere. How are you finding it so far?
TS:
Yes, I am really enjoying it. The stages are really nice.

Q:
You had a test at the start of the week. When you got in the car were you surprised by the lack of power (due to the altitude)?
TS:
We got used to it and I managed to settle into this and find a way to overcome this with my driving. We found a good set-up and I am really confident with the car.

Q:
We’ve seen you in WRC 2 before but, at the start of the season, you were not registered. Are you confident now that you are registered for WRC 2 that you can have a good result.
TS:
You cannot be too confident because the stages are really difficult. I stay focused on my driving and keeping the car on the road. I need to keep the car away from the stones. The rally is really hard for the tyres and the brakes. The first goal is to finish the rally.

Q:
Welcome back to the WRC Nicolas. How much are you looking forward to this event?
NF:
This event I like a lot. It is the best of the season for me. The roads and the people are great. Now we change the car and the team. The shakedown was different for the set-up. The car is very different to last year. I changed the tyres and the team. It is a so hard rally and not easy on the cars.

Q:
Historically you have done well here before. Does that give you confidence?
NF:
I like the stages. I know where to push and where to save the car. This is good for me and the team.

Q:
We have that long stage of 80 kilometres on Sunday. What do you think the stage will be like?
NF:
It will be very difficult and very long. You need to push in parts you know and in the other parts you need to save the car. Some parts are narrow and there are stones.

Q:
What about the season ahead for you now? Is it a full WRC 2 programme for you?
NF:
I start my season here and then Argentina, Portugal, Sardinia, Poland, Finland and GB. I try to go to the podium at the end of the season. For me, it is very competitive and there are a lot of very good drivers.

Shakedown results

1. Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3:43.9
2. Thierry Neuville, Hyundai i20 WRC, 3:45.5
3. Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3:45.6
4. Daniel Sordo, Hyundai i20 WRC, 3:48.1
5. Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3:48.1
6. Mads Østberg, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3:48.4
7. Hayden Paddon, Hyundai i20 WRC, 3:49.2
8. Benito Guerra, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3:52.0
9. Ott Tänak, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3:52.8
10.Eric Camilli, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3:54.6
11.Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3:55.7
12.Lorenzo Bertelli, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3:55.8

Shakedown: Dani Sordo hit a stone and broke the steering rod.

WRC2:
1. Teemu Suninen, SKODA Fabia R5, 4:00.3
2. Armin Kremer, SKODA Fabia R5, 4:00.8
3. Nicolàs Fuchs, SKODA Fabia R5, 4:02.6
4. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, SKODA Fabia R5, 4:05.3
5. Massimiliano Rendina, Ford Fiesta R5, 4:12.8
6. Khalid Al-Suwaidi, Ford Fiesta R5, 4:24.5
7. Hubert Ptaszek, Peugeot 208 T16 R5, 4:42.5

Shakedown, FIA World Rally Championship

Shakedown, bestofrallylive

Shakedown, Hyundai Motorsport

Shakedown, Torstein Eriksen

Thursday 3 March

Shakedown (Llano Grande) (5.55 km) 9:00
Pre-event FIA Press Conference 13:30
Ceremonial Start 20:00
SS 1 Street Stage Guanajuato (1.09 km) 20:10
SS 2 Autodromo León 1 (2.30 km) 21:30
SS 3 Autodromo León 2 (2.30 km) 21:35

Competitive distance: 5.69 km (Liaison 127.23 km, Total 130.62 km)

Friday 4 March

Service A (León – Rally Campus) 8:00
SS 4 El Chocolate 1 (54.21 km) 9:18
SS 5 Las Minas 1 (15.36km) 10:41
SS 6 Street Stage León 1 (1.41 km) 12:14
Service B (León – Rally Campus) 12:54
SS 7 El Chocolate 2 (54.21 km) 14:27
SS 8 Las Minas 2 (15.36 km) 15:50
SSS 9 Autodromo León 3 (2.30 km) 17:20
SSS 10 Autodromo León 4 (2.30 km) 17:25
Service C (León – Rally Campus) 18:20

Competitive distance: 145.15 km (Liaison 247.79 km, Total 390.64 km)

The starting order:

ORD ENTRANT (TEAM) DRIVER/CODRIVER NAT. NR CAR GR CL SEED PR  
1 Volkswagen Motorsport Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia F 1 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
2 Volkswagen Motorsport II Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger N 9 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
3 M-Sport World Rally Team Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene N 5 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
4 Hyundai Motorsport N Hayden Paddon / John Kennard NZ 20 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
5 Hyundai Motorsport Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti E 4 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
6 DMACK World Rally Team (M-Sport) Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder EE 12 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
7 Hyundai Motorsport Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul B 3 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
8 Volkswagen Motorsport Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila FIN 2 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
9 M-Sport World Rally Team Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas F 6 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
10 Jipocar Czech National Team Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek CZ 21 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
11 (Motorsport Italia srl) Benito Guerra / Borja Rozada MEX/E 16 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1
12 FWRT s.r.l. (M-Sport) Lorenzo Bertelli / Simone Scattolin I 37 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1
13 BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Armin Kremer / Pirmin Winklhofer D 38 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
14 Peugeot Sport Slovakia (Tagai Racing Technology) Hubert Ptaszek / Maciej Szczepaniak PL 31 Peugeot 208 T16 R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
15 TAIF Rally Team (MM-Motorsport) Radik Shaymiev / Maxim Tsvetkov RUS 34 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
16 TGS Worldwide Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula FIN 32 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
17 Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team (Wallenwein Rallye Sport) Abdulaziz Al Kuwari / Marshall Clarke QA/GB 36 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
18 Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team (Wallenwein Rallye Sport) Khalid Al-Suwaidi / Giovanni Bernacchini QA/I 39 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
19 (Wewers Sport) Nicolàs Fuchs / Fernando Mussano PE/RA 42 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
20 Motorsport Italia srl Massimiliano Rendina / Emanuele Inglesi I 33 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
21 Eurolamp World Rally Team Valeriy Gorban / Volodymyr Korsia UA 81 MINI John Cooper Works WRC RC1 WRC
22 Triviño World Rally Team (IS Racing) Ricardo Triviño / Marco Hernández MEX 44 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
23 Francisco Name jr. / Armando Zapata MEX 89 Citroën DS3 R3T Max RC3 R3T
24 Saintéloc Junior Team Michel Fabre / Maxime Vilmot F 61 Citroën DS3 R3T Max RC3 R3T P3 WRC3
25 Miguel Medina / Adrian Carmona MEX 85 Ford Fiesta MK6.5 R2 NAT R2
26 Carlos Salas / Gabriel Marin MEX 86 Ford Fiesta MK6.5 R2 NAT R2
27 Julián Jaramillo / Ricardo Avello CO 87 Ford Fiesta MK6.5 R2 NAT R2
28 Jorge Gonzalez / Ricardo Iniesta MEX 84 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 NAT NR4
 
  (Nasser AlAttiyah Racing) Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah / Matthieu Baumel QA/F 35 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 cancelled entry WRC2
  Javier Ortuño / Christian Jose Coronel MEX 88 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 NR4 cancelled entry

SS 4: Thierry Neuvilles spun into a bank over a crest at 41 km. Damaged the suspension arm. Retired -> Rally 2

SS 4: Eric Camilli stopped at the 44.5 km point. Had a puncture on the rear left. Lost almost 6 minutes.

SS 4: Hubert Ptaszek had a puncture and stopped to change the wheel. Then the gearbox broke and left only with first and second gear. Lost almost 7 minutes.

SS 4: Abdulaziz Al Kuwari had a flat tyre and stopped to change it. Lost over 3 minutes.

SS 5: Hayden Paddon touched a small wall and a right-rear wheel was running out of line.

SS 5: Benito Guerra stopped at the 10.5 km mark. Had a heavy landing over a crest and damaged his car. Retired -> Rally 2

SS 5: Hubert Ptaszek had a problem with the brakes and handbrakes.

SS 7: Andreas Mikkelsen overshot a junction early on, had to stop and turn around, and after that something felt very strange with the car. Was handling like a snake everywhere. A diff maybe? Also had no brakes. Lost over 30 seconds.

SS 7: Dani Sordo had a problem with the throttle, it was staying on about 20 per cent under braking – pushing the car on.

SS 7: Ott Tänak had s spin in a narrow section and lost some time.

SS 7: Eric Camilli had a problem with the downshift. From the middle of the stage lost first or second gear.

SS 7: Armin Kremer stopped at 35 km. Hit a rock and damaged the suspension. Retired -> Rally 2

SS 7: Abdulaziz Al Kuwari stopped 23 km into the stage but managed to get going again.

SS 7: Hubert Ptaszek hit something. The gearbox was not working and was stuck in first and second gears.

SS 8: Radik Shaymiev had a yellow light on the dash. The water pressure was low.

SS 8: Sébastien Ogier had a damaged front left wheel.

SS 8: Hayden Paddon ran wide on a fast corner into a ditch. Lost some time.

SS 8: Nicolàs Fuchs hit a stone and finished the stage with bent right rear suspension. Was able to repair the suspension arm.

SS 8: Radik Shaymiev stopped 11 km into the stage. Retired

After non-point scoring finishes in the first two rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship, Jari-Matti Latvala is finally back at the top of his game and leads Rally Mexico after the first full day of competition. The Finn heads Volkswagen team-mate Sébastien Ogier by 32.1 seconds with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo flying the flag for the Korean manufacturer in third.

Rally Mexico got underway last night in spectacular style, the opening ceremony and street stage in Guanajuato one of the highlights of the season. Thierry Neuville took the win on the short 1.09 kilometre stage in the UNESCO World Heritage designated city, but Ogier took the lead after the following two super special stages en route back to the overnight halt in Leon.

Today, however, the crews headed into the mountains for the first proper gravel stages of the event, and this is where Latvala started to open up his advantage. Running eighth on the road, the Finn was able to benefit from cleaner roads and wins in the opening 54.21 kilometre stage and the following 15.36 kilometre test gave him a healthy lead. This afternoon he once again blitzed the opposition, racking up the same stage victories to head the field overnight. Running first on the dusty mountain roads, Ogier coped well this morning and minimised the time loss to keep within shouting distance of Latvala. This afternoon the Frenchman was again on the limit, pushing to the maximum in his 100th WRC event, and was happy there was little more he could have done to catch his charging team-mate. Sordo has not been entirely happy with the car set-up today and struggled with a sticking throttle this afternoon, lucky to keep the car on the road on a few occasions.

Andreas Mikkelsen is fourth and, while the Norwegian made a few mistakes this morning, he bounced back with a fastest time in the mid-day Leon Street Stage. He has struggled this afternoon, however, with an overshoot and a strange feeling with the balance of the car. Hayden Paddon, sixth this morning, has climbed to fifth, overhauling Mads Østberg this afternoon despite an off into a ditch when the car filled with dust. Østberg had a bad start to the day with what he described as the worst tyre choice of his career. He lost over a minute in the first stage and has been playing catch up since, a 10 second penalty for a jump start also not helping his challenge. Ott Tanak is seventh; he had a spin this afternoon and a suspected broken differential. Martin Prokop, in this first WRC event of the season, is eighth and Lorenzo Bertelli holds ninth. The top 10 is rounded off by Finn Teemu Suninen who also leads the FIA WRC 2 Championship category. As in Sweden, Michel Fabre is the sole contender in the FIA WRC 3 Championship category and the Frenchman continues his challenge for maximum points in Mexico.

Early casualties in the event include Thierry Neuville who hit a bank in the opening stage and broke the suspension arm, and local hero Benito Guerra, the Mexican also damaging the suspension on his Fiesta after a jump. Eric Camilli lost a huge amount of time in the first stage with a puncture and is over 10 minutes adrift of the front of the field in only his eighth gravel rally.

Results after Section 3

1.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila Volkswagen Polo R WRC 1hr 48min 00.0 sec
2.   Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia Volkswagen Polo R WRC 1hr 48min 32.1sec
3.   Dani Sordo/Marc Marti Hyundai i20 WRC 1hr 49min 15.6sec
4.   Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger Volkswagen Polo R WRC 1hr 49min 46.7sec
5.   Hayden Paddon/John Kennard Hyundai i20 WRC 1hr 50min 20.8sec
6.   Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1hr 50min 35.6sec
7.   Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1hr 51min 53.8sec
8.   Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1hr 52min 56.3sec
9.   Lorenzo Bertelli/Simone Scattolin Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1hr 53min 11.3sec
10. Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula Skoda Fabia R5 1hr 53min 43.7sec

SS 1-6, FIA World Rally Championship

SS 7-10, FIA World Rally Championship

Leg 1, bestofrallylive

Leg 1, Hyundai Motorsport

Leg 1, Torstein Eriksen

Saturday 5 March

Service D (León – Rally Campus) 8:00
SS 11 Ibarrilla (30.38 km) 8:53
SS 12 Otates 1 (42.62 km) 10:11
SS 13 El Brinco 1 (7.15 km) 11:14
Service E (León – Rally Campus) 12:59
SS 14 Agua Zarca 1 (16.47 km) 14:08
SS 15 Otates 2 (42.62 km) 15:36
SS 16 El Brinco 2 (7.15 km) 16:39
SSS 17 Autodromo León 5 (2.30 km) 17:34
SSS 18 Autodromo León 6 (2.30 km9 17:39
Service F (León – Rally Campus) 18:34
SS 19 Street Stage León 2 (1.41 km) 20:35

Competitive distance: 152.40 km (Liaison 191.03 km, Total 341.13 km)

The starting order:

ORD ENTRANT (TEAM) DRIVER/CODRIVER NAT. NR CAR GR CL SEED PR  
1 Volkswagen Motorsport Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia F 1 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
2 Volkswagen Motorsport II Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger N 9 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
3 M-Sport World Rally Team Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene N 5 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
4 Hyundai Motorsport N Hayden Paddon / John Kennard NZ 20 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
5 Hyundai Motorsport Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti E 4 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
6 DMACK World Rally Team (M-Sport) Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder EE 12 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
7 Volkswagen Motorsport Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila FIN 2 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
8 M-Sport World Rally Team Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas F 6 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
9 Jipocar Czech National Team Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek CZ 21 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
10 FWRT s.r.l. (M-Sport) Lorenzo Bertelli / Simone Scattolin I 37 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1
11 (Motorsport Italia srl) Benito Guerra / Borja Rozada MEX/E 16 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1
12 Hyundai Motorsport Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul B 3 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
13 TGS Worldwide Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula FIN 32 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
14 (Wewers Sport) Nicolàs Fuchs / Fernando Mussano PE/RA 42 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
15 BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Armin Kremer / Pirmin Winklhofer D 38 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
16 Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team (Wallenwein Rallye Sport) Abdulaziz Al Kuwari / Marshall Clarke QA/GB 36 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
17 Peugeot Sport Slovakia (Tagai Racing Technology) Hubert Ptaszek / Maciej Szczepaniak PL 31 Peugeot 208 T16 R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
18 Motorsport Italia srl Massimiliano Rendina / Emanuele Inglesi I 33 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
19 TAIF Rally Team (MM-Motorsport) Radik Shaymiev / Maxim Tsvetkov RUS 34 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
20 Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team (Wallenwein Rallye Sport) Khalid Al-Suwaidi / Giovanni Bernacchini QA/I 39 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
21 Eurolamp World Rally Team Valeriy Gorban / Volodymyr Korsia UA 81 MINI John Cooper Works WRC RC1 WRC
22 Triviño World Rally Team (IS Racing) Ricardo Triviño / Marco Hernández MEX 44 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
23 Carlos Salas / Gabriel Marin MEX 86 Ford Fiesta R2 RC4 R2
24 Miguel Medina / Adrian Carmona MEX 85 Ford Fiesta R2 RC4 R2
25 Francisco Name jr. / Armando Zapata MEX 89 Citroën DS3 R3T Max RC3 R3T
26 Saintéloc Junior Team Michel Fabre / Maxime Vilmot F 61 Citroën DS3 R3T Max RC3 R3T P3 WRC3
27 Julián Jaramillo / Ricardo Avello CO 87 Ford Fiesta R2 RC4 R2
28 Jorge Gonzalez / Ricardo Iniesta MEX 84 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 RC2 NR4

Khalid Al Suwaidi retired this morning because he was feeling unwell.

SS 11: Jari-Matti Latvala touched a rock. Straight after thought they had a puncture. But it was okay.

SS 11: Eric Camilli crashed on a fast corner at the 28.04 km point and stopped with front-right damage. Retired -> Rally 2

SS 11: Nicolàs Fuchs stopped in stage at 3.5 km. Lost 29 minutes.

SS 12: Thierry Neuville had a accident at 39 km. Retired

SS 12: Dani Sordo had an engine overheating and a spin 300 metres before the finish. Lost 7-8 seconds.

SS 12: Hayden Paddon touched a bank near the start and that broke a rear toe arm. His car’s left-rear wheel was moving around in the arch and was driving slowly. Lost over 2 minutes. After the stage was able to fix car’s broken suspension putting a new arm on.

SS 12: Armin Kremer stopped at 2.6 km. Hit something and damaged the rear suspension. Retired -> Rally 2

SS 12: Abdulaziz Al Kuwari ripped a front right wheel. Retired -> Rally 2

SS 13: Dani Sordo continued to have the engine overheating problem all the time – the fan was broken and the power was down.

SS 14: Andreas Mikkelsen got a one-minute time penalty for clocking in early for Service E.

SS 14: Hayden Paddon stalled at the start and lost a few seconds.

SS 14: Hubert Ptaszek had a rear-wheel drive only and lost a lot of time during the Leg 2.

SS 15: Andreas Mikkelsen went over a crest a little too quickly, came out wide and hit a buttress at the front right. Spun around and came off the road at 32 km. Stuck in a ditch. Retired

SS 15: Hayden Paddon had a problems with the overheating brakes and lost the paddle-shift so had to use the manual.

Today’s route was the longest of the rally at 152.40 competitive kilometres and covered six mountain stages before returning to Leon for three short spectator stages. Capitalising on his favourable position running seventh on the road, Latvala was able to power over the smoother roads, gaining more of an advantage stage by stage. The Finn had a scare in the opening test when he clipped a rock, but other than overheating brakes later in the day, he has had a trouble-free run through the second full day of competition. Team-mate Ogier made a few mistakes in the first stage this morning, but he has otherwise been happy with his performance considering his road sweeping role. Sordo had to contend with the engine overheating this morning and he lost time with a spin, but the Spaniard has fared better this afternoon and, following the retirement of Andreas Mikkelsen, now has a more comfortable third position. Before this, Sordo was under mounting pressure from the Norwegian, but an accident in SS15 put paid to a fight to the finish.

As a consequence, Østberg inherited Mikkelsen’s fourth position and has run without problems, other than a glitch with the gearshift earlier in the day. With team-mate Eric Camilli retiring from the day after an accident in the first stage, the Norwegian now has the weight of manufacturer points for M-Sport on his shoulders. Hayden Paddon has had a frustrating day; he broke part of the suspension after hitting a rock, had a stall, brake and gearbox problems this afternoon. He is fifth overnight. Ott Tanak has had a clean run to sixth and Martin Prokop is seventh, the Czech driver struggling with damaged steering and a scare with the alternator. Lorenzo Bertelli is eighth in his Fiesta RS WRC and Teemu Suninen continues to head the FIA WRC 2 Championship category, the Finn with a massive advantage. Michel Fabre continues his unchallenged run in the FIA WRC 3 Championship.

Returning under Rally 2 regulations, Thierry Neuville was once again forced into retirement following an accident in the second stage.

Only one day remains, but Sunday is long and could provide a real sting in the tail. The day kicks off with the daunting 80 kilometre Guanajuato test – the longest special stage in the WRC for nearly 30 years – before crews head to the closing Power Stage. In total, the route takes in a further 96.47 competitive kilometres.

Results after Section 5

1.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila Volkswagen Polo R WRC 3hr 27min 22.8sec
2.   Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia Volkswagen Polo R WRC 3hr 28min 58.5sec
3.   Dani Sordo/Marc Marti Hyundai i20 WRC 3hr 30min 03.2sec
4.   Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3hr 32min 11.6sec
5.   Hayden Paddon/John Kennard Hyundai i20 WRC 3hr 33min 04.9sec
6.   Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3hr 35min 13.3sec
7.   Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3hr 36min 46.3sec
8.   Lorenzo Bertelli/Simone Scattolin Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3hr 37min 42.3sec
9.   Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula Skoda Fabia R5 3hr 39min 56.5sec
10. Valery Gorban/Volodymyr Korsia Mini Countryman WRC 3hr 55min 12.0sec

SS 11-13, FIA World Rally Championship

SS 14-18, FIA World Rally Championship

Leg 2, bestofrallylive

Leg 2, Hyundai Motorsport

Sunday 6 March

Service G (León – Rally Campus) 7:00
SS 20 Guanajuato (80.00 km) 8:03
SS 21 Agua Zarca 2 [Power Stage] (16.47 km) 12:08
Service H (León – Rally Campus) 13:41
Finish Podium Ceremony 14:30
Post Event FIA Press Conference 15:30

Competitive distance: 96.47 km (Liaison 118.22 km, Total 214.69 km)

The starting order:

ORD ENTRANT (TEAM) DRIVER/CODRIVER NAT. NR CAR GR CL SEED PR  
1 M-Sport World Rally Team Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas F 6 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
2 (Motorsport Italia srl) Benito Guerra / Borja Rozada MEX/E 16 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1
3 Volkswagen Motorsport II Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger N 9 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
4 FWRT s.r.l. (M-Sport) Lorenzo Bertelli / Simone Scattolin I 37 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1
5 Jipocar Czech National Team Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek CZ 21 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
6 DMACK World Rally Team (M-Sport) Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder EE 12 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
7 Hyundai Motorsport N Hayden Paddon / John Kennard NZ 20 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
8 M-Sport World Rally Team Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene N 5 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
9 Hyundai Motorsport Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti E 4 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
10 Volkswagen Motorsport Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia F 1 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
11 Volkswagen Motorsport Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila FIN 2 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
12 TGS Worldwide Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula FIN 32 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
13 (Wewers Sport) Nicolàs Fuchs / Fernando Mussano PE/RA 42 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
14 BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Armin Kremer / Pirmin Winklhofer D 38 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
15 Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team (Wallenwein Rallye Sport) Abdulaziz Al Kuwari / Marshall Clarke QA/GB 36 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
16 Peugeot Sport Slovakia (Tagai Racing Technology) Hubert Ptaszek / Maciej Szczepaniak PL 31 Peugeot 208 T16 R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
17 Motorsport Italia srl Massimiliano Rendina / Emanuele Inglesi I 33 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
18 Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team (Wallenwein Rallye Sport) Khalid Al-Suwaidi / Giovanni Bernacchini QA/I 39 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
19 Eurolamp World Rally Team Valeriy Gorban / Volodymyr Korsia UA 81 MINI John Cooper Works WRC RC1 WRC
20 Triviño World Rally Team (IS Racing) Ricardo Triviño / Marco Hernández MEX 44 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
21 Francisco Name jr. / Armando Zapata MEX 89 Citroën DS3 R3T Max RC3 R3T
22 Saintéloc Junior Team Michel Fabre / Maxime Vilmot F 61 Citroën DS3 R3T Max RC3 R3T P3 WRC3
23 Miguel Medina / Adrian Carmona MEX 85 Ford Fiesta R2 RC4 R2
24 Julián Jaramillo / Ricardo Avello CO 87 Ford Fiesta R2 RC4 R2
25 Carlos Salas / Gabriel Marin MEX 86 Ford Fiesta R2 RC4 R2
26 Jorge Gonzalez / Ricardo Iniesta MEX 84 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 RC2 NR4

SS 21: Abdulaziz Al Kuwari stopped 2 km into the stage. Retired

Dani Sordo used 29 tyres during the rally instead of the 28 authorised. The Stewards levied a two minute penalty as a consequence, Mads Østberg moved into third, and Sordo to fourth.

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti provisionally finished a fine third, notching up Hyundai Motorsport’s third consecutive podium finish of the season. However, the Stewards received a report from the FIA Technical Delegate stating that competitor No.4 (Sordo/Marti) used 29 tyres during the rally instead of the 28 authorised as per Art. 7.2 of the Supplementary Regulations. The Stewards levied a two minute penalty to competitor No.4. As a consequence, Mads Østberg/Ola Floene moved into third, and Sordo/Marti dropped to fourth.

In the FIA World Rally Championship, Ogier continues to top the leaderboard, the Frenchman adding three additional points for the Power Stage win to his tally of event points. Mads Østberg is second and Andreas Mikkelsen third. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, an emphatic one-two for Volkswagen sees it take a maximum haul from Mexico to head the series by 36 points over Hyundai. It is also the 12th consecutive win for the Polo R WRC, a record that began back in Portugal last year.

The closing day may have been the shortest of the event but was no less of a challenge with 96.47 kilometres of competition, kicking off with the daunting 80 kilometre Guanajuato test, the longest WRC special stage in nearly 30 years. The event then concluded with the 16.47 kilometre Agua Zarca Power Stage, where Latvala and Hayden Paddon picked up additional points for second and third fastest in this single stage. With the running order reversed, the stage victories belonged to Ogier today and the Frenchman clawed back time from Latvala. But, with far too big a deficit to overcome he was solely focused on maintaining position and bagging the maximum Power Stage points. Latvala had no reason to push and the Finn racked up his 16th WRC career win in stunning style. Mads Østberg was elevated to third for M-Sport and secured a 200th consecutive points-scoring finish in the Manufacturers’ Championship for the M-Sport/Ford partnership. The record started at Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2002 when Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae finished third and fourth with the Focus.

Sordo had consistently run in the top three all weekend until dropping to fourth with the Stewards Decision. Hayden Paddon achieved his goal of a top five finish and Ott Tanak took sixth, happy to have gained experience for future tyre development. Martin Prokop, on his return to the Championship, claimed seventh and Lorenzo Bertelli was pleased with eighth.

Skoda Fabia R5 driver Teemu Suninen finished ninth and claimed maximum points in the FIA WRC 2 Championship. The Finn won by over 20 minutes, such was the rate of attrition in the category. Valery Gorban rounded off the top 10 and Michel Fabre completed the route to take the FIA WRC 3 Championship win.

The FIA World Rally Championship contenders next head to South America for Rally Argentina (21-24 April).

Final Official Results

1.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4hr 25min 57.4sec
2.   Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4hr 27min 02.4sec
3.   Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 31min 33.8sec
4.   Dani Sordo/Marc Marti Hyundai i20 WRC 4hr 31min 35.3sec
5.   Hayden Paddon/John Kennard Hyundai i20 WRC 4hr 32mim 20.0sec
6.   Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 35min 56.9sec
7.   Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 38min 55.9sec
8.   Lorenzo Bertelli/Simone Scattolin Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 40min 07.0sec
9.   Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula Skoda Fabia R5 4hr 43min 59.2sec
10. Valery Gorban/Volodymyr Korsia Mini Countryman WRC 4hr 58min 34.7sec

SS 21, FIA World Rally Championship

SS 20, FIA World Rally Championship

Highlights, bestofrallylive

Leg 3, Hyundai Motorsport

Summary, VolkswagenRally

Leg 3, Torstein Eriksen

RESULTS & STATISTICS

  ENTRANT (TEAM) DRIVER/CODRIVER NAT. NR CAR GR   TIME  
1 Volkswagen Motorsport Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila FIN 2 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC 4:25:57.4 M
2 Volkswagen Motorsport Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia F 1 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC 4:27:02.4 M
3 M-Sport World Rally Team Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene N 5 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC 4:31:33.8 M
4 Hyundai Motorsport Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti E 4 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC 4:31:35.3 M
5 Hyundai Motorsport N Hayden Paddon / John Kennard NZ 20 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC 4:32:20.0 T
6 DMACK World Rally Team (M-Sport) Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder EE 12 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC 4:35:56.9 T
7 Jipocar Czech National Team Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek CZ 21 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC 4:38:55.9 T
8 FWRT s.r.l. (M-Sport) Lorenzo Bertelli / Simone Scattolin I 37 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC 4:40:07.0
9 TGS Worldwide Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula FIN 32 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 4:43:59.2 WRC2
10 Eurolamp World Rally Team Valeriy Gorban / Volodymyr Korsia UA 81 MINI John Cooper Works WRC RC1 WRC 4:58:34.7
11 Peugeot Sport Slovakia (Tagai Racing Technology) Hubert Ptaszek / Kamil Kozdroń PL 31 Peugeot 208 T16 R5 RC2 R5 5:04:10.8 WRC2
12 Motorsport Italia srl Massimiliano Rendina / Emanuele Inglesi I 33 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 5:08:04.6 WRC2
13 (Motorsport Italia srl) Benito Guerra / Borja Rozada MEX/E 16 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC 5:10:36.6 SR
14 (Wewers Sport) Nicolàs Fuchs / Fernando Mussano PE/RA 42 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 5:20:54.8 WRC2
15 Saintéloc Junior Team Michel Fabre / Maxime Vilmot F 61 Citroën DS3 R3T Max RC3 R3T 5:34:30.7 WRC3
16 M-Sport World Rally Team Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas F 6 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC 5:35:33.8 SR M
17 Triviño World Rally Team Ricardo Triviño / Marco Hernández MEX 90 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 NR4 5:48:05.5 SR
18 Julián Jaramillo / Ricardo Avello CO 87 Ford Fiesta R2 NAT R2 5:49:16.1
19 BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Armin Kremer / Pirmin Winklhofer D 38 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 5:52:06.0 SR WRC2
20 Carlos Salas / Gabriel Marin MEX 86 Ford Fiesta R2 NAT R2 6:01:37.3
23 LEADING RETIREMENTS SS=Special Stage
SS ENTRANT (TEAM) DRIVER/CODRIVER NAT. NR CAR GR   CAUSE  
4,12 Hyundai Motorsport Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul B 3 Hyundai i20 NG WRC RC1 WRC accident,accident M
11 M-Sport World Rally Team Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas F 6 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC wheel bearing M
15 Volkswagen Motorsport II Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger N 9 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC accident T
5 (Motorsport Italia srl) Benito Guerra / Borja Rozada MEX/E 16 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC heavy landing -> suspension
8 TAIF Rally Team (MM-Motorsport) Radik Shaymiev / Maxim Tsvetkov RUS 34 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 engine problems WRC2
12 Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team (Wallenwein Rallye Sport) Abdulaziz Al Kuwari / Marshall Clarke QA/GB 36 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 lost a wheel WRC2
7,12 BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Armin Kremer / Pirmin Winklhofer D 38 ŠKODA Fabia R5 RC2 R5 suspension,rear suspension WRC2
11 Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team (Wallenwein Rallye Sport) Khalid Al-Suwaidi / Giovanni Bernacchini QA/I 39 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 driveshaft,driver ill WRC2
12 Jorge Gonzalez / Ricardo Iniesta MEX 84 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 NAT NR4 accident
20 Miguel Medina / Adrian Carmona MEX 85 Ford Fiesta R2 NAT R2 mechanical
9 Francisco Name jr. / Armando Zapata MEX 89 Citroën DS3 R3T Max RC3 R3T engine mounting
6 Triviño World Rally Team Ricardo Triviño / Marco Hernández MEX 90 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 NR4
 
STARTERS 28 (8 WRC2, 1 WRC3) FINISHERS 20 (5 WRC2, 1 WRC3)     WINNER´S AVER. SPEED     kph
  RALLY LEADERS SS 1 Neuville, 2-3 Ogier, 4-21 Latvala
  WRC2 & RC2 SS 1-2 Suninen, 3-4 Kremer, 5-6 Fuchs, 7-21 Suninen
  WRC3 SS 1-21 Fabre
  RC3 SS 1 Name, 2-3 Fabre, 4-8 Name, 9-21 Fabre
   
  STAGE POSITIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6 THE ROUTE   SS   DISTANCE, km  
Jari-Matti Latvala 11 2 4 3 1 0
Sébastien Ogier 7 6 4 0 2 1
Dani Sordo 2 5 4 3 5 1
  Andreas Mikkelsen 1 4 1 3 2 3
Thierry Neuville 1 1 2 0 0 0
Ott Tänak 0 2 0 0 1 4
Hayden Paddon 0 1 5 6 2 1
Lorenzo Bertelli 0 1 0 1 2 2
Mads Østberg 0 0 0 3 6 4
Martin Prokop 0 0 0 2 1 0
  Benito Guerra 0 0 0 0 0 4
WRC2
  STAGE POSITIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6
  Teemu Suninen 11 4 5 1 0 0
  Nicolàs Fuchs 6 9 4 0 1 1
  Armin Kremer 4 3 2 0 0 0
  Hubert Ptaszek 1 0 4 9 1 0
  Abdulaziz Al Kuwari 0 3 1 4 3 1
  Massimiliano Rendina 0 1 5 5 6 4
  Radik Shaymiev 0 0 0 2 2 3
 
  RC2
  STAGE POSITIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6
  Teemu Suninen 11 4 5 1 0 0
  Nicolàs Fuchs 6 9 4 0 1 0
  Armin Kremer 4 3 2 0 0 0
  Hubert Ptaszek 1 0 4 9 1 0
  Abdulaziz Al Kuwari 0 3 1 3 3 1
  Massimiliano Rendina 0 1 5 5 6 4
  Radik Shaymiev 0 0 0 2 2 3
  Ricardo Triviño 0 0 0 0 8 2
 
  WRC3
  STAGE POSITIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6
  Michel Fabre 21 0 0 0 0 0
     
  RC3
  STAGE POSITIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6
  Michel Fabre 15 6 0 0 0 0
  Francisco Name jr. 6 2 0 0 0 0
 
  NAT RC4
  STAGE POSITIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6
  Carlos Salas 11 5 0 0 0 0
  Miguel Medina 9 9 1 0 0 0
  Julián Jaramillo 2 6 13 0 0 0

FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (after 3 of 14 rounds)

Sébastien Ogier (FRA) 77 points
Mads Østberg (NOR) 42 points
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 33 points
Dani Sordo (ESP) 30 points
Hayden Paddon (NZL) 29 points
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 27 points
Ott Tanak (EST) 24 points
Thierry Neuville (BEL) 15 points
Stephane Lefebvre (FRA) 10 points
Henning Solberg (NOR) 6 points
Elfyn Evans (GBR) 6 points
Martin Prokop (CZE) 6 points
Craig Breen (IRL) 4 points
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) 4 points
Teemu Suninen (FIN) 3 points
Esapekka Lappi (FIN) 2 points
Armin Kremer (DEU) 1 point
Kris Meeke (GBR) 1 point
Valery Gorban (UKR) 1 point

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (after 3 of 14 rounds)

Volkswagen Motorsport 97 points
Hyundai Motorsport 61 points
M-Sport World Rally Team 46 points
Volkswagen Motorsport II 30 points
DMACK World Rally Team 26 points
Hyundai Motorsport N 24 points
Jipocar Czech National Team 6 points

Team Reviews:

Manufacturers: Volkswagen Motorsport / Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Michelin)
1 Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (F)
2 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (FIN)

Team Manufacturer: Volkswagen Motorsport II / Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Michelin)
9 Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (N)

In an interview a few weeks ago, Jari-Matti Latvala said “Things are on the up no.” After failing to pick up points twice in Monte Carlo and Sweden, at the third rally of the year in Mexico, the Finn proved impressively that he hasn’t forgotten how to win. He dominated the first gravel rally of the year and won with a lead of 1:05 minutes over team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who clinched victory on the closing power stage.

Jari-Matti’s mood was appropriately relaxed at the finish line. “A fantastic feeling,” said Jari-Matti. “I had a difficult start to the season, with no points in the first two rallies. This rally was perfect. I’m back!” It was JML’s 16th WRC victory of his career; he got nine of these for the Volkswagen brand. Latvala drove a tactically clever rally in the Mexican mountain air and didn’t let his rivals get a look in.

On Saturday, world champion Ogier already recognised that he stood no chance against Jari-Matti. “Jari-Matti is just too strong here,” said Ogier, who finished second in Mexico, clinched the one-two victory for Volkswagen this year and further extended his lead in the world championship. Ogier’s victory on the power stage saw him pick up three bonus points.

Going into the final day, Latvala already had an advantage of 1:36 minutes over Seb. Things looked to be in the bag. But the 80-kilometre Guanajuato stage with its many demanding passages and spectacular jumps had to be completed on Sunday. Latvala didn’t take any unnecessary risks. Team-mate Ogier, who was at a disadvantage the previous two days having to take to the track first and play “road sweeper”, was impressive on the marathon stage and got a fantastic time, which saw him reduce Latvala’s lead by 25.3 seconds. However, Latvala’s advantage didn’t drop below the one-minute mark on the closing power stage.

Andreas Mikkelsen suffered disappointment in Mexico. After second place in Monte Carlo and fourth place in Sweden, an accident on Saturday forced the Norwegian to retire early in Mexico. Until that point, Mikkelsen was in the running for a podium position.

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“All in all, second place for Julien and I was the best-possible result this weekend. Thanks to victory on the Power Stage, we picked up 21 important points in the championship standings, which is what counts overall. Naturally, I would have hoped to stage a more exciting duel with Jari-Matti for the many fans. But there was no way that was possible; our road conditions on the first two days were far too different. That’s not taking anything away from his performance, Jari-Matti thoroughly deserved the win and my congrats go to him and Miikka. I’d like to say a special thanks to the thousands of fans here in Mexico: For Julien and I, it is a highlight to come here every year. The enthusiasm and friendliness of the people is fantastic, and on top of that the stages we drive through are beautiful. Until next year, ¡Viva Mexico!”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am very happy and satisfied. This is a fantastic result, not just for me, but for the whole team. After the disappointing results in the first two events, it was important to finally pick up points. I managed that with the win. Naturally, I had a good basis with my starting position this weekend, but the longest rally of the season still had to be mastered. We found a good set-up and also chose the right tactics. My thanks go to my engineer Fabrice van Ertvelde and my mechanics in particular. However, we will by no means be resting on our laurels, rather we will take the momentum with us to Argentina.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Unfortunately, the Rally Mexico was over for us far too early, although we were doing well. We reduced our deficit to Dani Sordo on Saturday morning and wanted to continue to attack third place. But on the second pass of ‘Otates’ we came over a crest a little too quickly then came out wide and hit a buttress at the front right. We spun around and came off the road. There was no way we could keep driving since we were stuck in a ditch. Naturally, that is more than disappointing since I had planned on much more. My mechanics tried to get the car ready to restart under Rally 2 regulations, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible. We are now looking ahead to Argentina and are focussed on making amends for leaving here empty-handed.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Mexico was a total success for Volkswagen – especially as winning here is far from a matter of course. At no other rally do we hit the same heights as here – a Herculean task for the engine department, for whom the thin air poses a tricky problem when it comes to engine management. The rally also features the longest special stage on the calendar. That is also a big challenge for the chassis department and our tyre partner Michelin. We did a top-class job of overcoming these challenges as a team. Our drivers and co-drivers, in particular, deserve the utmost respect. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila made the most of their starting position and intelligently took advantage of being one of the last World Rally Cars onto the route. On the other side of the coin, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia superbly overcame the disadvantage of opening the route. All in all, this one-two is a huge effort, and one that we at Volkswagen are very proud of.”

Manufacturers: Hyundai Motorsport / Hyundai i20 NG WRC (Michelin)
3 Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (B)
4 Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti (E)

Team Manufacturer: Hyundai Motorsport N / Hyundai i20 WRC (Michelin)
20 Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (NZ)

Dani has unfortunately lost his third-place podium from this weekend’s Rally Mexico after our crew received a two-minute penalty. This penalty was given for using 29 tyres during the event after a mix up at Sunday’s Tyre Fitting Zone, one more than regulations allow.

The penalty drops Dani to fourth overall in the Mexico results. However, he is still our highest-ranked driver in the Driver’s Standings.

“Unfortunately Dani and Marc were penalised of two minutes after the finish of Rally Mexico today and consequently dropped to fourth in the overall classification,” said Team Manager Alain Penasse. “Due to an obvious communication error, three new tyres and two used ones – instead of three used and two new – were fitted to the New Generation i20 WRC #4 at the Tyre Fitting Zone after SS20 this morning. This means one tyre in excess was used compared to the number allowed by the regulations. We will now go back to Alzenau and investigate the issue further. For sure, this doesn’t take away from the performance of both the crew and the team throughout this challenging rally.”

———-

We have achieved our goal of three consecutive podiums in three events after Dani’s solid third place finish at Rally Mexico, third round of the 2016 FIA WRC.

Today saw two stages run – the gigantic Guanajuato, which at 80km is the longest of the whole WRC season, and Agua Zarca as the rally’s Power Stage.

Dani’s third-place finish marks his first podium of 2016 and follows Thierry Neuville’s third place in Monte-Carlo and Hayden’s second place in Sweden meaning that each of our driver crews have now taken a top-three finish this season.

Dani drove steadily under pressure today and took third on Guanajuato today. Despite some issues during the rally he kept focus and took regular top-three stage finishes over the weekend to maintain third overall.

“I am delighted to be on the podium here in Mexico and to take my first top-three finish of the season,” declared the Spaniard. “This is a very complicated and challenging rally, so we have had a few complications along the way, but I think this is the same for everybody. We just got on with our job and learned a lot about the performance of the New Generation i20 WRC in these conditions, which will be very helpful for the future. We ended Saturday with a relatively comfortable hold of third place so we knew we would have to take it easy on the long Guanajuato stage and in the Power Stage, just to bring the car home. We didn’t push and we can be happy with this result. It hasn’t been an easy rally for the team so it is nice to have the chance to celebrate a podium after all their hard work. We have some things we will learn from this weekend but overall we have a lot to be pleased with. We now look forward to Argentina with enthusiasm.”

Hayden’s Sunday runs added to an overall positive event for the Kiwi. He drove smoothly to hold fifth place and claimed an extra Championship point after finishing third in the Power Stage.

“It’s been an eventful rally and there hasn’t really been much time to take stock,” commented the Kiwi. “Whether it’s been making the right tyre choice, dealing with suspension damage or just learning new stages with the New Generation i20 WRC, the Mexican stages have certainly kept us busy. There are definitely lots of positives to take away from the weekend, and we’re quite pleased to have met our pre-rally aims of finishing inside the top-five. We were all looking forward to this morning’s monster stage and it was a really interesting experience, how to look after the tyres and the brakes over 80km. In hindsight, we might have been able to push a bit more, but we wanted to keep hold of our fifth place so I’m happy with our job. We wanted to give a bit of a push in the Power Stage to try and take an extra point, so that was a nice consolation. The team is also to be commended for their efforts this weekend. It’s been a long, hard rally for everyone so it’s nice to leave here with Dani on the podium and two cars in the top-five.”

Two years after Thierry scored our first ever WRC podium in Mexico, we now leave with another top-three. It is a satisfying result on the challenging Mexican stages with our new car, the New Generation i20 WRC.

“It is a great feeling to finish with two cars inside the top-five – and to score a hat-trick of podiums with Dani in third place,” commented Team Principal Michel Nandan. “We have now seen each of our driver crews on the podium this year – and we’re only three events into the season. The results are great but they don’t necessarily tell the story of what has been an incredibly tough rally. We’ve had the longest stage of the season – the 80km run this morning – as well as tough conditions, which have really put the New Generation i20 WRC under pressure. We’ve learned a lot about the car this weekend with some room for improvement but a generally satisfactory performance. The cars have survived a difficult rally, which can only give us optimism for the rest of the season. Well done to Dani and Marc for their fantastic podium, Hayden and John for their fifth place, and to the entire team for a professional job in the circumstances. Of course, it’s a shame that Thierry couldn’t complete the rally but he’s feeling determined to fight back in Argentina. We said we’d be able to evaluate the performance of our New Generation i20 WRC more accurately after the first three rounds, and with podiums in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and now Mexico, we have to target the top-three in all remaining events of the season. It’s an ambitious target but I think we’ve shown we have what it takes, even in the harshest of rallies.”

Now we look to Rally Argentina, the fourth round of the 2016 FIA WRC that takes place 21-24 April.

Manufacturers: M-Sport World Rally Team / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Michelin)
5 Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (N)
6 Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas (F)

M-Sport and Ford created history today by becoming the first manufacturer to secure 200 consecutive point-scoring finishes in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

The first points finish in the record-breaking run came at Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2002 when Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae brought the Ford Focus RS WRCs home in third and fourth places respectively.

Thanks to a podium finish from Mads Østberg and four additional championship points for Éric Camilli at this weekend’s Rally Mexico, the record now stands at an impressive 200 and counting.

Seventeen crews have contributed to the record and in that time, the team has racked up a number of impressive statistics including two WRC manufacturer titles, 41 wins, 154 podiums and 889 stage victories.

Since M-Sport began their collaboration with Ford in 1997, the manufacturer team has secured a total of 51 WRC wins, 203 podiums and 1171 stage victories.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“This is a huge achievement for Ford and M-Sport, and one that we are all immensely proud of. Winning rallies is largely down to the drivers, but finishing rallies is down to the team and this achievement is a reflection on the dedication, commitment and technical expertise of the entire team.

“When we first started this run of points finishes there was no Rally 2 regulation which I think makes it all the more impressive. Of course we’ve had a few near misses over the years when we nearly lost the record, but the team has managed to maintain it through dedicated work and some truly exceptional performances.

“One day, this record will come to an end, but we’ve given our rivals an extremely hard target to chase. I’m confident that it will be very difficult for another other manufacturer to beat this and I need to thank the whole team we have at M-Sport – without them, this would not have been possible.”

Senior Manager, Ford Performance, Ford of Europe, Gerard Quinn, said:

“A run of 200 consecutive points-scoring finishes in the WRC is a huge achievement – and something that will not be matched for some time.

“This record began at Rally Monte-Carlo in 2002 and the success has seen Ford and our rally partners M-Sport earn points on every WRC event since that time – a truly remarkable achievement.

“It clearly demonstrates our continued commitment to democratising our performance technology which enables all Ford drivers to achieve success in rally – one of the world’s most challenging motor racing series.

“This milestone also recognises the dedication and commitment of all those who have contributed to our record-breaking achievement. Here’s to the next 200!”

THE NUMBERS BEHIND THE RECORD

1 The first rally in the scoring run was the 2002 Rallye Monte-Carlo when Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya finished third and Colin McRae and Nicky Grist were fourth. Both were behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS WRC.

6 Victories at Rally Sweden makes the Scandinavian classic our more successful event.

8 Ford Fiesta RS WRCs finished in the top 10 at the 2011 edition of Wales Rally GB.

14 Consecutive podiums for the official Ford team between the 2006 Rally d’Italia Sardegna and the 2007 Rally Mexico; and again between the 2007 Rally Argentina and the 2008 Rally Mexico.

17 Drivers contributed to the record. They are Mikko Hirvonen (95 points finishes), Jari-Matti Latvala (56), Marcus Grönholm (29), Markko Märtin (28), Elfyn Evans (22), François Duval (19), Mads Østberg (16), Toni Gardemeister (13), Ott Tänak (12), Petter Solberg (11), Evgeny Novikov (11), Roman Kresta (10), Carlos Sainz (9), Colin McRae (9), Janne Tuohino (2), Henning Solberg (1) and Éric Camilli (1).

18 Countries in which Ford has won.

23 Countries in which Ford has scored points.

20 The percentage of rallies Ford has won during the 200 events.

41 Wins since Rallye Monte-Carlo 2002.

50 The 50th consecutive finish came at the 2005 Cyprus Rally when Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen finished fifth, one place ahead of Roman Kresta and Jan Možný.

75 Rally New Zealand in 2006 marked not only the 75th consecutive finish, but it was also the rally in which Ford clinched the manufacturers’ world title for the first time in 27 years.

154 Podiums achieved since Rallye Monte-Carlo 2002.

100 The centenary was reached at the 2008 Rally of Turkey when Ford claimed a 1-2 finish with Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen winning ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila.

150 The 150th consecutive points finish came at Rally Argentina in 2012. Standing in for an injured Jari-Matti Latvala, Dani Sordo and Carlos Del Barrio were on course to secure a podium on their debut with the Ford Fiesta RS WRC before being forced to retire on the final stage. Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson maintained the record by bringing their Fiesta home in sixth place overall.

889 Stage wins since Rallye Monte-Carlo 2002.

2,811 Points scored in the manufacturers’ championship since Rallye Monte-Carlo 2002.

10,796 The number of snapchats sent by the M-Sport mechanics up to and including the 200th points score.

49,856 The number of eggs ‘Mick the Chef’ fried from the 2002 Rallye Monte-Carlo to the 2015 Wales Rally GB.

974,118 Cups of tea consumed in the M-Sport hospitality area.

1,050,575 Air miles travelled by Team Principal Malcolm Wilson OBE since Rallye Monte-Carlo 2002.

Team Manufacturer: DMACK World Rally Team (M-Sport) / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (DMACK)
12 Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder (EE)

The DMACK World Rally Team continued its impressive start to the season with another strong result on the first gravel event of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship. Rally Guanajuato Mexico was a tough endurance event but a super sixth from Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder helped DMACK maintain its fine fifth position in the race for the manufacturer championship.

While the arduous gravel roads claimed a number of the leading drivers, Tänak held firm with another mistake-free drive to strengthen his position in the championship battle and ensuring DMACK finished second only to Michelin in the tyre manufacturers’ tussle. For the third event in a row, DMACK scored its best-ever overall finish on the event.

After asphalt, snow and ice on the opening two rounds, the DMACK World Rally Team headed to Mexico with its DMG+2 gravel tyre. It featured some minor revisions from last season to deal with the long stage distances and rocky roads. And that challenge peaked on the final day when competitors tackled a huge 80km stage – the longest test in WRC for over 30 years.

Despite the demanding conditions, Tänak proved the performance of DMACK’s WRC tyre. He was second fastest on stage nine, beaten by just 0.1 seconds by the eventual rally winner, in what was his best stage result on DMACK tyres.

The hard S3A compound also demonstrated impressive durability on the altitude stages. The hard compound offers stiffer tread blocks, greater high-speed stability and improved durability in the energy-soaking temperatures and rough gravel roads.

Rally Mexico burst into life with the traditional energetic ceremonial start in the stunningly colourful town of Guanajuato – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the opening street stage, which ran through tunnels under the town on Thursday evening, the action switched to the dirt roads traversing the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanjuato mountains.

Friday featured two passes over the 54.21km El Chocolate test while Saturday boasted two runs through Otates at 42.62km. However, both days were eclipsed by the mammoth 80km Guanajuato stage on Sunday, testing drivers’ stamina and physical endurance.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Rally Mexico provided another challenging and tough event with ideal conditions for us to continue to evolve our gravel products. We’ve displayed both speed and endurance once again with Ott scoring another solid result against the factory teams. Development will continue ahead of the traditional European gravel events.”

Ott Tänak said: “The atmosphere and passionate fans really make Rally Mexico a special event and I always enjoy this rally. We continued to drive as fast as possible over the weekend, pushing when the conditions allowed and suited our team. It was a positive result as we continue our run of strong finishes and DMACK has taken some useful information from the weekend to make things even better for future gravel rallies.”

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Rally Mexico
Post-event Press Conference
Sunday 6th March

Present:
1st – Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Motorsport
1st – Miikka Anttila, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd – Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd – Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport
3rd – Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport
3rd – Marc Marti, Hyundai Motorsport
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport

Stop Press: The Stewards received a report from the FIA Technical Delegate stating that competitor No.4 (Sordo/Marti) used 29 tyres during the rally instead of the 28 authorised as per Art. 7.2 of the Supplementary Regulations. The Stewards levied a two minute penalty to competitor No.4 for this breach. As a consequence, Mads Østberg/Ola Floene moved into third, and Sordo/Marti dropped to fourth.

Q:
Jari-Matti, you have now started your 2016 season! Congratulations on WRC win number 16.
J-ML:
Yes it is fantastic. I said to Miikka that maybe we will start the season here and it’s great to win on the first gravel round. Before the start we said it would be really good to win. But I was only dreaming of winning here. It has been difficult for me in the past. This year, I had a different approach with Miikka and we concentrated on a clean drive and tried to use our road position and avoid the rocks. It went according to plan.

Q:
You had a great road position. But you didn’t make any mistakes either…
J-ML:
It was maybe the cleverest run we have ever done. In Finland I drove for my life last year, but that was at speed on fast stages at high speed. Mexico is 400 kilometres of stages and some of those are 55, 42 and 80 kilometres. They are longer stages and some of the longest used in the WRC in 30 years. The approach was different. It was more like an endurance event and I am happy to have won in these conditions.

Q:
Jari-Matti, how did you get on in terms of focus on the long stage today?
J-ML:
I thought the first 10 kilometres was the most difficult and I needed to find my rhythm for it. Then I felt it and didn’t want to go too fast. I got it right until 50 or 55 kilometres, I did not have any problems at all, but then I got this feeling around 58 kilometres that the rear brakes went away. I looked on the trip and saw that there were 22 kilometres to go and I tried to calculate if my speed was going to be enough. I asked Miikka if it was enough. He told me it was enough. That’s what I wanted to hear.

Q:
What does the win here do for your challenge for the Championship?
J-ML:
I knew that Seb would make a great effort to take the points on the Power Stage after being first on the road for two days. I tried hard and I managed to catch back six points and this is important. At least we are catching. No points here would have put me out of the championship. At least now we have a chance to keep fighting. Being consistent now is the key. We need to keep this going on the next events.

Q:
It is also an extra special weekend with your father winning an event in Germany?
J-ML:
Yes, that’s very special. It’s the first time it’s happening, father and son winning on the same weekend. I remember in 2004 in Finland in the national championship we had numbers after each other then in World Rally Cars.

Q:
Miikka, congratulations on the win. Does it feel good to get the season off to a good start?
MA:
Yes, it’s always nice to start the season like this (round three)! It’s really a big relief for Jari-Matti and myself. We did not doubt it could happen. Our starting position was good and we had to try and build a solid drive to win here. After the shakedown we were the last of the VWs to leave the service park and the first ones to finish the shakedown – that’s a good sign. It’s a big relief and now we have a good starting position in Argentina. We will try to maximise the result from this.

Q:
Sébastien, Jari-Matti mentioned his brake issues at 58 kilometres. Did you notice anything?
SO:
Not so specific, but we had the same problem around kilometre 60. It was the same problem. But this stage ran quite smoothly and did not feel so long.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the weekend in general? The Power Stage and extra points?
SO:
For sure, it’s not a secret that it was a frustrating weekend for us. We did the best we could and finished second. We could not ask for more and we have a lot of points for the championship. I see Jari-Matti as my main rival this year. But, you know me, I don’t like to accept this frustration.

Q:
What was the most difficult part of the rally for you?
SO:
On Saturday, there was a lot of pollution (surface gravel) and I lost even more time on Saturday. Today, I finally had a good position and had two nice stages.

Q:
Did you think you had a chance to catch Jari-Matti on the long stage?
SO:
If the difference had been up to 30 seconds we could give it a try. But to take 1 minute 30 seconds in 80 kilometres is one hell of a task. I had a great drive this weekend. To finish the rally and get three extra points on the Power Stage was great.

Q:
What are your thoughts on Argentina?
SO:
It might be the same situation there as well, unless the weather helps me out. Saying that, I don’t want to win with that kind of an advantage. Let’s see that happens then. This was a good weekend.

Q:
Julien, it was a challenging weekend for co-drivers. What are your thoughts on the long stages?
JI:
I am a cow driver now! We were not alone on the stages, there were goats, dogs and some cows. It was very challenging, but Mexico is always a good event and the roads are nice to drive and the atmosphere is always the same with enthusiastic people around. Like my colleagues also, I had to work a lot. The roads were nice but bumpy and I cannot write (the notes) properly. Even with my famous magic pillow on my knees it was not easy. It’s a great event though. On the 80 kilometre stage I had 106 pages of pace notes. Miikka had 78 pages and I was surprised, because John Kennard only had 57 – half of me. So, yesterday night, I checked the road book to check the stage! I

Q:
Dani, third overall and another podium finish. You showed some great pace as well this weekend?
DS:
I have a really nice feeling to have a podium finish here. It’s the first event on gravel with the new car, so I am happy. We had a good position in the rally and, at the end, we take the third place.

Q:
You had a good fight with Andreas Mikkelsen. Were you happy with your pace?
DS:
Andreas was really fast, but maybe he was too fast and he make a mistake. We can push hard and take more risks, but it was very slippery. I can go faster and do better but I am happy. I think the long stage, 54 kilometres, was the most difficult. This stage was really long and the feeling in the car was really hot. I had to be very careful to keep in the lines, because there were always crests and rocks. It was really difficult.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the car?
DS:
The car is progressing step-by-step. It is better than last year and we have to improve the set up. We are in a good way and making good progress.

Q:
Marc, this is a unique event with the endurance and the atmosphere. What are your thoughts?
MM:
The rally is unique. It has the good weather when we are all coming from Europe where it is cold. The people are friendly and they are looking at you and supporting you. From the beginning, from the shakedown and the ceremonial start, people are speaking Spanish and that is more easy for us.

Q:
Marc, what do you think of the challenge of the event?
MM:
Of course to be concentrated on the long stages is not easy. Most of the first and second day the stages were quite twisty and more difficult than the last 80 kilometre (stage). Also, Dani and myself, we made only one and a half days of test with the new car, so we do a good job

Q:
Jost, Jari-Matti and Miikka have sealed the win in Mexico. What are your thoughts on their performance?
JC:
The performances of Jari-Matti, Miikka, Sébastien and Julien were perfect. With their road positions they did the best they could do and it showed with perfect performances. Not one was better than the other, they had different starting positions. I think this is one of the best rallies we have had so far and it was so important to get the maximum points.

Q:
Andreas (Mikkelsen) went off the road. Why did you not fix the car?
JC:
It was quite a big hit and there were parts in the engine that were broken and needed replacing. We do not do this at rallies.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the ambience at the event?
JC:
We say the same every year, it is a fantastic rally. The team wants to come here and looks forward to it. Just fantastic stages and the fans are great and the location is a role model for WRC events. The service park is in a great place, the hotels are good and close and so are the stages, and we have the weather. We always love to come here.

Q:
Do you think it’s a good move to have an 80 kilometre stage on the final day?
JC:
I don’t think rallies should be the same. We need specialities. We don’t like night stages in gravel rallies. Let’s hope we do not see them again. It’s always possible and exciting for new ideas and it changes the strategy for the teams and the drivers. Variation is welcomed by everyone. Finally, I would like to thank the Volkswagen people from the two plants on Friday. Our drivers stopped and got out of the cars and got great support. We dedicate this win to them.

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st – Teemu Suninen, TGS Worldwide
1st – Mikko Markkula, TGS Worldwide

Q:
Teemu, congratulations on your first WRC win of the season in WRC 2. How are you feeling?
TS:
I feel pretty good. This is the best way to start the season. The stages are very narrow in places and we had to drive quite carefully. It was on Friday we had to drive fast.

Q:
You had such a big lead at the end though Teemu?
TS:
This was not the case at the beginning. But we drove quickly for two days and then I learned to drive safely and I drive fast without taking risks.

Q:
What were your thoughts on the stage of 80 kilometres today?
TS:
To be honest, it felt quite a long stage but we did not have to push all the time. If we had needed to push it would have been different, but we were able to drive safely to save the tyres and the brakes.

Q:
Has this win given you confidence for the future?
TS:
The past rallies have been good for me but, in Portugal, there will be every driver and it will be a much tighter race. We have to prepare well for this. Hopefully we can get some extras events in before Portugal.

Q:
Mikko, great results in the past two events and a first win for you since you registered in WRC 2.
MM:
Of course, we want to win always. We never expected everything, but we have good tactics and good luck. It can happen and it happened. Some sections were very rough at times and we had to drive slowly all the time to see all the stones. It was very difficult to keep the concentration and try to stop making mistakes with the big lead. We had 85 pages of notes for the big stage – we had 70 for El Chocolate.

FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st – Michel Fabre, Sainteloc Junior Team
1st – Maxime Vilmot, Sainteloc Junior Team

Q:
Michel, this is your second win of the season. How are you feeling?
MF:
The feeling is very good. I enjoyed the rally. It has magnificent organisation .

Q:
What were your thoughts on the stage of 80 kilometres?
MF:
It was superb, perfect. I am used to stages as long as that. I have done them in my time, but the stage of 50 kilometres was more demanding physically.

Q:
Maxime, another win in WRC 3. What are your thoughts?
MV:
It was a nice challenge and the first time on gravel for Michel. I am happy for Michel and hope that we continue with this. The event has a good atmosphere and the long stage today was fantastic. The aim was to keep calm and have no problems. I liked the challenge. The plan is more of the same. We work hard. Michel found it a little difficult with the pace notes and he lose the speed sometimes. We will continue to work with this.

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