Guerra to resume WRC challenge in Mexico
Benito heads local entries
Beginning our series of countdown stories ahead of the 2015 Rally Guanajuato Mexico [5-8 March) here’s a recap of what happened last time…
Thursday 7 March 2014
The rally began in historic Guanajuato with the traditional start ceremony and nighttime street stage. Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier was quickest, emerging from the partly underground test with an overnight lead of 0.3sec. A remarkable second was Estonia’s Ott Tanak at the wheel of a WRC 2 category Ford Fiesta R5. He was a 0.1sec clear of Andreas Mikkelsen in third.
Friday 8 March 2014
Ogier retained the lead after an action-packed opening day which sidelined a host of frontrunners. The Frenchman minimised his losses as he ploughed a line through loose gravel on the morning loop, but set four fastest times on cleaner tracks in the afternoon to lead by 26.1sec. Second was Mads Ostberg. The pair shared two stage wins each in the morning, and the Norwegian led by 3.3sec in his DS 3. His advantage could have been greater had he not dropped time when his co-driver forgot to remove a piece of shielding from the radiator. Ostberg made set-up changes for the afternoon and failed to find the same rhythm. First on the road, Jari-Matti Latvala endured the worst of the morning’s dirty conditions. But he coped well and climbed from fifth to third, 42.5sec behind his Volkswagen colleague. The day proved problematic for many WRC regulars. Mikko Hirvonen retired his Ford Fiesta RS from third with alternator failure. Kris Meeke, who should have inherited Hirvonen’s place, went out on the same stage after breaking a suspension arm on a rock. Robert Kubica took advantage of the carnage to climb to fourth on his Mexico debut but he rolled his Fiesta RS at the León race track super special. Mikkelsen was the first top-level exit - retiring from second when he hit a rock and broke his Polo R’s suspension.
Saturday 9 March 2014
Ogier increased his lead to a comfortable 60.3sec after dominating the third day. The Polo R driver reeled off five consecutive stage wins and his task was eased when Ostberg hit a bank and retired from second with broken suspension, allowing team-mate Latvala into the runner-up spot. After Ostberg’s demise, Latvala focused on preserving his position. Thierry Neuville climbed to third, 4min 37.0sec behind Ogier. He moved ahead of Welshman Elfyn Evans in the morning. Martin Prokop and local hero Benito Guerra completed the top six in their Fiesta RS cars. It was another bad day for Mikkelsen and Kubica. Mikkelsen rolled his Polo R in the second stage, while Kubica rolled his Fiesta RS for the second time in two days.
Sunday 10 March 2014
Ogier kept out front to head a Volkswagen 1-2 finish, with Latvala 1min 12.6sec behind. The Frenchman took a maximum points haul by claiming fastest time in the final live TV Power Stage to earn three bonus points. Neuville claimed a maiden podium for Hyundai after a dramatic finale when he twice stopped on the final road section to the León finish to top up his car’s leaking radiator with beer - provided by rally sponsor Corona at the interim podium after the final stage! Under strict instructions to drive for a finish, Evans claimed a career-best fourth on his first appearance in Mexico, 1min 20.7sec behind Neuville. Prokop finished fifth despite almost rolling his Fiesta RS in the morning, while Mexico’s Benito Guerra delighted his home fans to take sixth on only his second outing in a World Rally Car
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