2013 is looking very bright for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, following a successful weekend in Mexico giving Volkswagen’s Polo R WRC its second victory in three rallies, and its first on gravel.
Ogier dominated the latest WRC round, which was made even easier after Mads Østberg had to retire from second place with electrical problems on Saturday. However, it wasn’t without its scares, namely a faulty sensor which took the Frenchman twenty minutes to repair and an issue with a gate that had closed on purpose by someone clearly trying to slow the Volkswagen driver down. Officials restored the forty seconds lost from stopping to open it after checking the car’s on-board video footage. A win on the bonus-points power stage and an outright win over the Citroen of Mikko Hirvonen – by over three minutes – gave Ogier a maximum score and a 44 point cushion between himself and Hirvonen and 31 points ahead of Loeb, who will only be competing in four rallies this year.
Third place went to Ford’s Thierry Neuville, the first podium of his career, with ex-MINI works driver Dani Sordo finishing fourth for Citroen and Nasser Al-Attiyah rounding out the top five for Ford.
In contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala was struck by incredible misfortune in the second Polo, hitting a giant rock just 300 metres into day two of the event. The Rally-2 regulation allowed Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila to rejoin the rally on Saturday, but they could do no better than 16th after being awarded a 50-minute penalty for the stages they did not complete. The crew’s only positive from the weekend was picking up a point from the bonus stage.
“The start of the season is just amazing for us. We want to thank the team because the car was perfect again all weekend. Okay, just a small alarm this morning with a sensor but it was not a drama, and here we are again at the end with a perfect amount of points,” said a jubilant Ogier.
2013 WRC Mexico Results:
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen 4h30m27.0s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 3m28.9s
3. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford + 4m23.8s
4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 6m06.7s
5. Nasser Al-Attiyah M-Sport Ford + 8m34.5s
6. Chris Atkinson Abu Dhabi Citroen + 11m28.0s
7. Ken Block Hoonigan Ford + 11m48.3s
8. Benito Guerra CRT Citroen + 12m49.8s
9. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 14m29.0s
10. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 17m15.3s
[Source: Volkswagen Motorsport]