report: Part 1
Eleven top-flight drivers took on the stages of Rally Mexico. Some fared better than others. Here is WRC.com’s view on their performances:
Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R)
Pre rally worries about road position were dispelled with a fastest time on Friday’s opener. From there on it was another peerless performance from the reigning champ and his co-driver Mr Mysterio [above] who were fastest on 14 of 22 stages, including the bonus point Power Stage. Ogier’s confidence is so high he even considered handing the Power Stage victory to his team-mate Latvala in order to have a better road position in Portugal.
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC)
Considering this is a development year for the i20 WRC, Neuville enjoyed a successful and high profile Mexico. The Belgian’s clean run netted Hyundai its first WRC podium, while his anxious drive to the finish with a radiator full of lager grabbed the headlines. High altitude stages exposed the Hyundai’s lack of engine power, but Neuville coaxed some encouraging times out of the car. His best performance of the year so far.
Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
Another cruel event for Hirvonen, who was taken out of the competition by a faulty alternator - as he had been at Rallye Monte Carlo. The Finn was third, and in touch with the leaders, when his car stopped through no fault of his own. He restarted, but from then on the rally was more like an extended test.
Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
The first finish of the year for Prokop, who kept out of trouble to bring his car home sixth. Very nearly fluffed it on the last day, however, when a huge spin three kilometres from the end of Guanajuatito threatened to put Fiona the Fiesta on its roof. Prokop believes he was owed some good luck. A welcome confidence boost before Rally Portugal.
Kris Meeke (Citroen DS3 WRC)
It was the Briton’s first time in Mexico and he learned some hard lessons. An impressive fourth on day one, he retired later in the day when he arrived too fast at a corner and took a wheel off. Worse was to come on Sunday’s Power Stage, when his second retirement - this time caused by a rock-strike - was beamed to live TV audiences around the world. Despite it all, Meeke claims he took lots of positives from the rally and reckons he is still in the teething phase with the DS3.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R)
It was a rally to forget for the Norwegian, who kept his mechanics busy with two separate retirements. A Mexico virgin, Mikkelsen could be forgiven for taking a wheel off on Friday, but his second retirement on Saturday was due to a mistake on the recce, when he didn’t note a huge hole in the road. Missed a lot of the stages as a result. Is hoping to redeem himself with a podium in Portugal.