Thursday | 05 Mar 2020

Rally rewind: Mexico 2019

Tough gravel roads and sweltering temperatures are the hallmarks of Rally Guanajuato Mexico. Both played a pivotal part in 2019’s encounter as we recall in our lookback at the season’s first fixture outside Europe.

1. Mexico’s maestro
On his way to 47 WRC rally wins, Sébastien Ogier has dominated events from start to finish and dug deep to reach the top of the podium at others. His 2019 success most definitely fell into the latter category.

Esapekka Lappi, Andreas Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke led in the Mexican mountains before Ogier finally scrapped to the head of the field to secure his fifth event success with a third manufacturer - this time in a Citroën C3.

He kept cool to overcome a puncture, a differential problem and a brush with a tyre barrier to claim his second win of the season by 30.2sec from Ott Tänak.

2. Pulsating Power Stage
Mexico’s Wolf Power Stage is no stranger to excitement. Who can forget the drama of Kris Meeke’s plunge into a car park en route to his 2017 success?

The Toyota Yaris driver was responsible for raising the blood pressure again during an extraordinarily tight tussle with Ogier through the closing Las Minas test. Ogier took the honours and maximum bonus points by just 0.025sec from Meeke, a difference four times quicker than the blink of an eye!

3. Determined Latvala
Eighth place was not exactly what Jari-Matti Latvala had in mind as he crossed the Atlantic. But to finish at all was a minor victory for the Finn, who limped his Yaris back to León on Sunday afternoon thanks only to his mechanical skills and ingenuity with a water bottle.

In scenes reminiscent of Thierry Neuville’s lager-fuelled rescue in 2014, Latvala found himself looking at a car with a broken radiator parked over a puddle of coolant. What followed was very WRC.

He used a pack of mouldable putty to plug the hole in the system and set about filling the system from his water bottle. When that wasn’t enough, he made an exhausting 500-metre dash down a steep hillside to refill his bottle from a river and topped up the system to complete the Wolf Power Stage.

Video: Mexico - top 5 moments 2019

4. Mountain madness
What is it about the opening leg of Rally Guanajuato Mexico? Maybe it’s the intense heat? Or the challenging dirt roads? Or maybe it’s simply the excitement of being let loose on gravel in the mountains for the first time in the new season?

Whatever the reason, the first full day always seems to bring more drama than a James Bond blockbuster and 2019 was no different as a quartet of frontrunners were sidelined in a chaotic opening.

Mikkelsen retired from the lead in the afternoon’s El Chocolate test with broken suspension after clouting a stone. Then Hyundai i20 team-mate Dani Sordo exited second place after the following Ortega stage with an electrical problem.

Latvala retired from fourth with alternator failure while Teemu Suninen clobbered a stone on the inside of a corner, throwing his Ford Fiesta into a rock face.

5. Open and shut case
Mikkelsen was on road opening duties on Saturday after Friday’s early exit. Bizarrely, he came across a closed gate in the second pass through Guanajuatito. Quick-thinking co-driver Anders Jaeger-Amland downed his pace note book, leapt out of their i20 to open the barrier and made sure it would stay that way by wedging it in place. Take a look below.