Ogier overcomes odds to emerge the victor at WRC Rally Mexico

  Last weekend’s WRC Rally Mexico, Round 3 of the Championship, saw 5-time Champion Sebastien Ogier take victory, ahead of Hyundai’s Dani Sordo and Citroen’s Kris Meeke. The rally also witnessed the return of 9-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb, who made a guest appearance, driving a C3 WRC. For Ogier, it was his second victory in just three events as he sprung up to the head of the Drivers’ standings with 60 points from Hyundai’s lead man Theirry Neuville.

Ogier had it all as he overcame the disadvantage of an unfavorable road position through the opening stages. Making the best of every situation, he chose his moments perfectly. Whilst having to contend with some of the loosest gravel through the opening speed tests, a stunning drive saw him limit the potential time loss, ending the day just 31 seconds adrift of the lead. With a slightly improved road position on the second day, he pushed hard; four fastest stage times transforming fifth place and a 31 second deficit into first place and a 35.9 second advantage.

The final day, the Frenchman not only managed the leg but increased his advantage and secured his 42nd career victory by more than a minute. “This weekend we really gave it everything. Julien was perfect, and the team were so strong as well. The victory is great of course, but it’s the performance that was really good. We’ve made such a big improvement from last year, and that is a big positive for the rest of the season. I was pretty much on the limit all weekend. When you’re early on the road you’re trying your best but the time is still far away from those starting behind. There’s always some frustration coming with that, but you have to keep going and not give up,” said Ogier.

Meeke crashed out of second on the final day, tipping his Citroën C3 onto its side after sliding into a gulley. He dropped 45 seconds to allow Sordo to climb to second. Sordo had a late scare of his own as he punctured his rear right wheel in the final test but had enough time in hand as Meeke lacked the pace to challenge after damaging his car’s aerodynamic rear wing in the crash. The gap between them was 15.6sec.

Fellow Hyundai driver Andreas Mikkelsen finished fourth, a further 19.2sec behind, after struggling with his i20’s handling throughout. Loeb was fifth following a remarkable return after more than three years out of the WRC. The 44-year-old Frenchman led in his C3 before a puncture ended his bid for a fairytale victory.

Neuville came into the rally leading the championship. The burden of opening the roads in the worst of the conditions and a series of minor mistakes left the Belgian in recovery mode. He did well to salvage strong points in sixth in his i20.

The championship moves to the Mediterranean island of Corsica for round four. The asphalt Corsica Linea – Tour de Corse is based in Bastia on 5 – 8 April.

2018 WRC Rally Mexico classification

1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:53:58.0
2. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 1:13.6
3. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) + 1:29.2
4. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 1:48.4
5. Loeb / Elena (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2:34.6
6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 9:13.0
7. Tidemand / Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) + 10:34.7
8. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 15:47.1

Drivers standings
1. Sébastien Ogier – 60 points
2. Thierry Neuville – 51 points
3. Andreas Mikkelsen – 34 points
4. Kris Meeke – 32 points
5. Jari-Matti Latvala – 30 points
6. Ott Tänak – 26 points
7. Esapekka Lappi – 23 points
8. Craig Breen – 20 points
9. Dani Sordo – 18 points
10.Sébastien Loeb – 10 points