Wednesday | 09 Mar 2016

Mexico driver report: part 1

We look at how the leading drivers coped with the WRC’s opening gravel round in the first part of our summary.

Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R)
Result: 2nd
State the obvious, but if it hadn’t been for Jari-Matti Latvala, Ogier would have won last weekend on his 100th WRC start. And that would have been a truly stunning result given he was first in the running order for two whole days on some of the loosest roads of the year. Ogier wanted to be judged against those closest to him in the points who faced conditions more in line with those he encountered. And he demolished them all.

Mads Østberg (Ford Fiesta RS)
Result: 3rd
Leaving Mexico second in the championship is the result of a hugely consistent opening three rounds for Østberg. And a podium following Dani Sordo’s demotion was probably as good as he could have realistically hoped. But the Norwegian wanted to be closer to the front-running Volkswagens and was somewhat non-plussed at why the pace he expected wasn’t there.

Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20)
Result: Retired

It all looked good for the Belgian pre-event with a favourable start position and he was second after the opening night. However, that was before he hit the gravel. When he did on Friday morning, Neuville spun into a bank after a crest and broke his i20’s suspension. He returned on Saturday but a violent accident required a brief trip to hospital for checks and time to reflect on what could have been.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R)
Result: Retired

Mikkelsen spent the whole rally chasing Dani Sordo for a podium. It seemed as if the Norwegian would do the deal on Friday afternoon until he overshot a junction and his Polo R started to handle ‘like a snake’. With normality restored, Mikkelsen again closed in on Saturday before going off the road in Otates and that was that for the weekend.

Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20)
Result: 5th

Patience and perseverance were the key words of Paddon’s weekend. Twice damaged the suspension after swiping a bank and other issues included overheating brakes, a dodgy paddle shift gearchange and a stage start stall. But when he had a clean run the Kiwi’s speed was good on only his second visit to the Mexican mountains.

Lorenzo Bertelli (Ford Fiesta RS)
Result: 8th

Not only the first finish of the season for the Italian, but also a career-best result after avoiding any major dramas in his Fiesta RS. Bertelli has also developed something of an affinity with the tricky street stage in Guanajuato – for the second consecutive season he was second quickest through Thursday night’s rally opener.

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