For only the first time in Volkswagen’s World Rally Championship experience, the German manufacturer scored a 1-2 as Sebastien Ogier shut out Jari-Matti Latvala to take over the championship lead after three rounds.
Overcoming the bane of having to be the first and second cars on the road and acting as a sweeper, Frenchman Ogier walked away from the hills of Guanajuato with a 1min 26second lead.
Indeed it was a good result for series newcomers Hyundai, even having to top up his radiator with a fan’s beer on the final stage, Belgian Thierry Neuville could claim a podium finish to mark an upturn in the squad’s results which include a not classified and a 28th so far in 2014.
Neuville said: “We are incredibly happy to have scored this podium result today and especially in a rally as demanding as Mexico. We kept our heads down and focused on delivering the best results we could in each stage without going over the limit. Our objective has always been just to bring the car home and finish the rally, so to take a podium is a really nice bonus for the team, who have worked so hard. Having the first-hand experience of rally competition is so valuable for the team and the data we have gathered this weekend will be extremely useful in further development of the Hyundai i20 WRC and the team overall.”
Talking of good results, 2012’s WRC Academy Champion Elfyn Evans scored a career best position of fourth place to also take the honour of being Ford and M-Sport’s top runner in Mexico.
But back to the sharp end of the grid and Ogier was ecstatic after the podium celebrations: “Mexico really is a fantastic country for us! I like the rally, and it seems to like me. I picked up my first win as a junior here back in 2008 and took overall victory with Volkswagen last year – and now here I am, back on the top step of the podium. It is a fantastic feeling.
“Our entire team did a sensational job all weekend, and the Polo R WRC was once again super reliable and super quick in extreme conditions. I was hungry for this win after my mistake in Sweden! That is why Julien and I refrained from taking any risks on the final day. We really wanted to get this win under our belts.”
Into the land of Citroen and they will be ruing what could have been with Kris Meeke not finishing the rally after
clipping a large rock on the power stage and Mads Østberg finishing ninth to score a handful of points.
An annoyed Meeke said: “I feel like I have made a huge amount of progress in terms of understanding the Citroën DS3 WRC and the pace to adopt in the stages. It’s very disappointing not to finish the rally. On the power stage, I had good pace notes and I was on the right line, but I hit a rock on the inside of a corner. I was first on the road, so I couldn’t avoid it. Not making it to the finish is very frustrating even if there are a lot of positives that we can take away from this rally.”
The teams will now regroup for a few weeks before they come back to Europe and tackle the Rally Portugal in the first weekend of April.