Sebastien Ogier took a commanding victory in Rally Mexico after spending the final day managing his pace and not taking too many risks. Behind him, Thierry Neuville pipped Elfyn Evans to second place on the final stage of the day to be separated by 0.4s
The finale of Rally Mexico ran over four stages. Another run through Las Dunas kicked off proceedings before the longest stage of the rally, Otates, is tackled. San Diego was the penultimate test with El Brinco serving as the final stage and the Wolf Power Stage.
Sebastien Ogier started Las Dunas by not taking any risks with the stage now very rutted. This meant the Frenchman lost a couple of seconds but nothing alarming before Otates. Neuville however was in full chase mode with Elfyn Evans firmly in his sights. The Belgian gained another two-tenths on the Toyota man to try and keep the pressure on.
SS21 saw Ogier ship more time to his teammate but still sat 23.2s in front with two stages left to run. “Very slippery at the end but all good for us,” said Ogier at the end of the stage “We are trying to control the lead and it was a zero-risk drive.” Behind however Evans responded to Neuville’s attack, going 1.7s faster than his rival.
It was more bad news for Ott Tanak though as after a poor rally so far, it got worse with a front damper issue which left the Estonian just trying to drive the car home. His teammate Pierre-Louis Loubet also had poor luck return to him as he crossed the line with a deflated left front tyre which happened in a narrow part of the course.
Anticipation followed in the following test though as Evans finished the stage 3.1s slower than Neuville setting up a dramatic showdown on the Wolf Power Stage. The gap shrunk to 2.7s although it was discovered that Evans had a bent steering arm and was nursing the issue which explained the time drop.
The final stage secured the inevitable, Ogier took his seventh win of the event and capped off his dominance by taking the power stage win as well.
“I like this stage! The car was great this weekend and it was a faultless weekend from us and the team,” remarked a very happy Ogier. “As I am doing the next rally in Croatia, it’s important to start first on the road there and it was important to get the points for the team as well. I am proud but this win is for my friend who I lost not long ago. I am thinking of him.”
Following behind was Neuville who completed his charge against Evans to take second by 0.4s on the last stage. The Belgian also finished the power stage in third behind Tanak to gain a good haul of points and when he crossed the line, he remarked how much he was pushing.
“All weekend we have been on the limit, and it was really exhausting towards the end.”
Evans wasn’t surprised to drop to third but he was frustrated due to his bent steering arm. “It’s not a surprise,” said Evans. “We’ve been nursing a bent suspension arm since the first one this morning. We had to take it easy in a couple of places just to make sure we got back. It’s a shame.”
Behind the podium was Kalle Rovanpera who finished 1min 55.3s back from Ogier. The Finn rued losing his rear wing on the final stage because he couldn’t fully capitalise on the power stage points on offer.
Dani Sordo rounded out the Rally1 contingent in fifth place over a minute back from Rovanpera. Some points were scored but he will be looking towards Portugal now which is his next outing.
Gus Greensmith took victory in WRC2 and placed sixth overall in his first event of the season. “From SS6, this whole rally was under control for me,” commented Greensmith. “When we need to go faster we could gap everyone and after that, it was just about controlling it and not making any mistakes. It’s the perfect way to start the year.”
- Ogier 3hr 16min 9.4s
- Neuville +27.5s
- Evans +27.9s
- Rovanpera +1min 55.3s
- Sordo +2min 58.8s
- Greensmith (WRC2) +12min 31.5s
Next up the WRC heads to Croatia for round 4 of the season on the 20th – 23rd April.
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