Mexico debrief: part 1
Heat, dust, mountains and the return of a WRC legend, Rally Guanajuato Mexico had some spicy ingredients. In the first of our two-part debrief, we focus on the moments that mattered.
Driver of the rally
Two for the price of one here as we can't split WRC Sébastiens Loeb and Ogier, but both fully deserve the title after their stand out performances in Mexico.
Six years since his last full WRC season, it was almost unthinkable that Loeb [above] could challenge for victory on his return, and yet when he took the lead on Saturday morning it was like he had never been away. The later puncture shattered that winning dream, but this was still a stunning performance from the nine-time champion.
Ogier too has reason to be cheerful. He dealt well with his early road position disadvantage, kept his nose clean, and put himself right back into contention when those around him hit trouble. Class acts both, and a reminder of why the pair have won the last 14 WRC titles between them.
Save of the rally
Kris Meeke [below] bagged this title in 2017 after his last stage detour though a spectator car park. This time, Meeke has the spectators themselves to thank for his podium finish.
Lying second after Saturday's leg, Meeke lost his 10.9s advantage over third-placed Dani Sordo when his Citroën skidded on cobbles and slipped into a gully on Sunday's opening test. Resting on its side, Meeke's C3 could have stayed there had it not been for the help of spectators who manhandled it back to the road. Without them, his third place would almost certainly have gone.
Quote of the rally
Prior to 2014, Sordo spent most of his WRC career playing a supporting role at Citroën, helping both the team and star driver Loeb to achieve their multiple titles.
Now very much his own man at Hyundai, in Mexico you could sense Sordo's unease with going up against his former team-mate once again. Leading after stage eight, Sordo had good reason to be wary of the man getting closer in his mirrors.
"I expected to be in the fight, we were quick here last year, but Sébastien is coming really fast on us. It's annoying eh?" he said.
Surprise of the rally
After a podium in Sweden, we were expecting Andreas Mikkelsen to be one of the front-runners in Mexico. Instead the Norwegian had a distinctly average rally and ended in fourth place, 1m38sec off the lead.
Mikkelsen never seemed to get to grips with his Hyundai i20 on the dusty mountain stages, especially when it came to keeping the rear end under control and in the racing line.
Having dropped out of the lead battle, his neat and tidy strategy later in the rally netted some useful points, but he'll be eager to get back to the sharp end at the next round.
Meeke pledges to improve
Briton reflects on a missed opportunity
Loeb rues tyre mistake
Lack of experience cost Frenchman dear
Sordo: I knew podium was possible
Past pace in Mexico gave Spaniard belief