07 Mar 10
With only three stages to complete on Sunday, overnight class leader Martin Prokop and Spain’s Xavier Pons were set for a showdown on the dusty Mexican plains to decide who took the S-WRC win.
Pons produced a remarkable time in Sunday's opening Special Stage (SS19) that was sufficient to push him back above Prokop and into an S-WRC lead he had lost with clutch problems on Saturday.
From that point on, Prokop decided to take the points on offer for second to strengthen his championship bid rather than go flat out for the win and risk a non-finish, although he did sign off with a stage win on the final test, the SS22 Super Special.
That meant Pons could drive steadily and secure victory on his first S-WRC event in his Ford Fiesta S2000 by a margin of 17.6seconds.
"It’s my first event in S-WRC, my first event in this car and with only 40km of testing beforehand I'm very happy," said Pons.
"We had a few problems on Saturday that made it difficult but today the car was perfect and we knew we could go for the win. It’s a great car and we felt more and more comfortable after every stage as we learned more about it. The biggest problem was a lack of experience with the car and the tyres, but it's a good start."
With two events completed, Prokop leads the S-WRC standings by eight points.
"We had no big problems but a lot of small ones all rally," said Prokop. "In the end we just had to save the car because we damaged the engine area on the first day and had to do the best we could. Normally we fight for the victory but after Pons took the lead I decided not to try and fight. He was very fast and very motivated to win, so I let him go today. I'm still happy because for the championship it's a good result and I know we can go faster. This was an unusual type of contest, but sometimes this is how it has to be."
Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah retired from third place at Saturday's final service. The former P-WRC champion damaged the inlet manifold on a heavy landing on SS16 and the decision was taken to withdraw his Skoda Fabia S2000 before the restart.
His demise promoted Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Michal Kosciuszko, who retired twice during the rally, into third. “We had a lot of problems but the main thing is that we showed how quick we can be," he said. "We won most of the S-WRC stages and that gives us a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. The car felt so good when there was no problem, and I really think it is a lot faster than the Fabia. We know now what we can achieve if we have a little more luck.”