Thursday | 10 Mar 2016

Mexico driver report: part 2

We look at how the leading drivers coped on Mexican gravel in the second part of our summary.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Polo R)
Result: 1st
After two rallies and two no scores, victory in Mexico was a much needed boost for Jari-Matti [above] whose title challenge had all but evaporated. The championship gains weren't massive here - only six points on runaway leader Ogier - but in terms of confidence this was a significant result. Latvala didn't put a foot wrong all weekend and played the perfect strategic game. He's still way down the standings but that will give him another road position advantage on the next round in Argentina. Another rally like Mexico would do him very nicely.

Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20)
Result: 4th
Penalty aside, this was a good event for Sordo who was consistently the closest challenger to the leading Volkswagens. However it wasn't an enjoyable ride. The Spaniard was bothered by the wandering rear end of his car and he also had to contend with a sticking throttle on Friday and a broken radiator fan and overheating engine on Saturday. Mikkelsen's exit during SS15 took the pressure off and enabled him to cruise to the finish in a well deserved third, before an admin blunder by the team dropped him to fourth.

Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta RS)
Result: 6th
Sixth place was a decent result for Tänak, but to be 10 minutes off the lead after a generally trouble-free run is way less than he is capable of. For the time being however Tanak's priority is to help DMACK develop its DMG+2 tyre and in that respect he did the perfect job in Mexico. Ever the diplomat at the stage ends, he delivered 21 stages of data for the engineers to pore over and almost bagged a stage win on Saturday's Super Special.  

Eric Camilli (Ford Fiesta RS)
Result: 16th
Another character building weekend for the Frenchman who was back with co-driver Benjamin Veillas for only the eighth gravel rally of his career. Painfully aware of the need to complete the event in one piece, he had a scare on Friday when he hit rocks and had to change a puncture. Worse was to come on Saturday's opener when another rock strike smashed his steering and took him out of the day. If there was a silver lining, it's that up until the point he stopped on SS11 he had been matching the pace of M-Sport team-mate Mads Østberg.

Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS)
Result: 7th 
It's been a few months since we've seen Prokop and Fiona the Fiesta on a world championship rally, so seventh place on his return was a decent comeback. But while the result was encouraging, and he maintained his reputation for excellent reliability, Prokop wasn't satisfied with his outright speed and spent much of the event trying to improve his cornering technique. Hopefully it won't be long until we can see his progress in another rally.

Benito Guerra (Ford Fiesta RS)
Result: 13th
Local hero Guerra hadn't driven a world rally car for 12 months before last week but was quickly up to speed and out to prove once again that he deserves more outings in the WRC. Sadly his pitch went wrong on Friday's second stage when he nosed his Fiesta after a jump [below]. Restarting on Saturday he benchmarked himself against the other privateers and was frequently seen punching the air with delight. A popular and rapid addition to the WRC ranks, we'd like to see Guerra on more events this year.


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