Reigning FIA World Rally Champions Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed a fourth Rally Mexico win today to retake the lead in the Championship. After a determined fight from the start, the Ford Fiesta WRC crew ultimately crossed the finish line with over a minute in hand to Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio.
This was also the first time a Ford has won in Mexico since Markko Martin raised the trophy in 2004. Sordo moved into second in the day’s opening stage when Kris Meeke ran wide and toppled his C3 WRC on its side; he and co-driver Paul Nagle managed to continue but dropped to third in the process.
In the FIA World Rally Championship, Ogier takes a four-point advantage over arch rival Thierry Neuville, the Belgian enduring a nightmare weekend running first on the road. Andreas Mikkelsen, Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala are closely matched in third, fourth and fifth respectively. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, Hyundai continues to top the leaderboard and takes a 12-point lead over M-Sport Ford after three rounds. Citroen is just one point adrift with Toyota fourth.
Sunday’s itinerary included just three stages, the long 15-mile Alfaro stage and then two runs through Las Minas, the second one counting as the all-important Power Stage. Ogier led into the day and was faultless through the first two stages, saving tires for a push for additional championship points. He initially claimed four for second fastest, but after the Stewards deemed he did not go around the elements of a chicane correctly he was penalized 10 seconds.
The penalty had no effect on his overall result, but docked him of the Power Stage points. Sordo moved into second on the first stage when, in similar style to last year, Meeke had a final day moment. The Northern Irishman slid wide and ended up in a deep gully with the car on its side. Fortunately he was able to get the C3 WRC back on the road but he lost over 30 seconds to the Spaniard and slipped to third overall.
Mikkelsen brought his i20 Coupe home in fourth after clouting a bank in the second stage and admitted it was good points in the bag during a weekend when he was not really on the pace. Nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb picked up points for fifth overall after a stunning return to the WRC and his first gravel rally since 2013. The Frenchman will be back in action on the next round in Corsica, again partnering Meeke. Neuville finished sixth after a torrid weekend but he picked up an additional three points in the Power Stage, helping him maintain a close watch on Ogier in the Championship standings. Latvala finished the highest of the Toyota runners in eighth.
In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Pontus Tidemand took victory by an enormous margin over Gus Greensmith and, in the FIA WRC 3 Championship, although Tom Williams completed the final stage he retired on the road section back to service.
The FIA World Rally Championship now returns to Europe for Rallye de France-Tour de Corse (5-8 April).