Sébastien Ogier won Rally Mexico for a record seventh time
The last day of the first gravel rally of this season was started by Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) as the leader, with a lead of 35.8 seconds over the closest competitors.
Sunday morning started with the 3.53 km long Las Dunas special stage, which was run for the fourth time during the weekend and which was already in a pretty crazy condition. Many contestants mentioned the poor condition of the stage and advised not to pass this stage so many times in the future. The opening stage of the day was won by Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1), who fought for second place with Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1). Before the longest stage of the rally, with a length of 35.63 km, the British had a lead of 4.1 seconds over the Belgians.
If the Hyundai competitors Neuville/Wydaeghe won the opening stage, the next Toyota competitors Evans/Martin increased their overall success to 5.8 seconds. Unfortunately, the British Yaris was hit during the stage, which damaged the car's suspension and affected the results of the two subsequent stages.
Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja also came from the stage with technical problems, the first shock absorbers of their Ford Puma had run out of oil.
The 9.59 km long Powerstage ended the Rally Mexico, with the best time set by the winners of the 2023 Rally Mexico, Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais. The maximum points meant that the French, who won two out of two rallies, became the World Championship leaders again.
It was a record seventh World Rally Mexico victory for Sébastien Ogier. In total, the eight-time world champion has now won 57 World Championship rallies. For his co-driver Vincent Landais, it was his second career win, both coming this year. At the finish of the rally, Ogier announced that he will also be at the start of the next World Championship rally in Croatia.
"I had to win here, I like this rally. The car was good, thanks to the team, and since I will be driving the next rally on asphalt, where it is good to start, it was important to get points for both myself and the team. Elfyn was worthy of second place, but this technical problem hindered him. This win is for my friend who I lost recently," Ogier summed up his record seventh World Rally Mexico victory.
While Ogier/Landais were able to drive without tension in the last stage, despite the stage win, there was a heated battle between Evans/Martin and Neuville/Wydaeghe for the second place, from which the latter came out as the winner. In the end, the overall success of the Belgians was 0.4 seconds ahead of the British after 22 stages.
"It's not a surprise, we had a problem with the suspension and we had to take it easy in some places. It is as it is," said Evans, who lost second place, at the finish of the stage.
The 2022 World Champions Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) were also hoping for good points in the powerstage, but a driving mistake made in one right corner and the breaking of the car's rear spoiler did not leave them the chance to fight for 5 points.
Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja gave their best despite the car's technical problems and showed a flight on the last jump, which did not feel very comfortable in the car. In the end of the rally, ninth place for Estonians and a good second result and 4 World Championship points with a 2.1 second loss in the powerstage.
"Not really good at the moment after that jump. Not much to say in conclusion, hopefully we won't repeat this again. This is not a weekend to forget, but something we have to change. It can't go on like this," Tänak summed up the disappointing competition.
In the WRC2 class, Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson, who started the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 car, controlled the race for the first time since Friday. Their success was ultimately 32.9 seconds ahead of their nearest competitors, 2022 WRC2 World Champions Emil Lindholm/Reetä Hämäläinen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo). Third place in the class for Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2), who also attacked second place on Sunday, but a technical problem with the car in the powerstage (only three working cylinders) did not promise more than the last step of the podium. Despite this, they emerged as the World Championship leaders in the WRC2 class season overall.
"I haven't driven so calmly, because there was a check from the sixth attempt. Jonas has done a good job. Thanks also to Škoda and the Toksport team. Thanks to my engineer, he helped me a lot," Greensmith summed up the rally.
The next round of World Rally Championship will be held in Croatia, on the 20th to 23rd of April.