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Thu 23 Mar 2023

The Inside Line: Mexico

The WRC made its return North America last for Guanajuato Rally México, back on the calendar for the first time since 2020. Let's delve into the hottest topics.

Star Drive

It is hard to overlook Sébastien Ogier's stunning performance. The Frenchman secured his record seventh Mexico win and moved into the championship lead, which is even more impressive given that he is only participating part-time this year.

Ogier faced a formidable challenge from Hyundai's Esapekka Lappi on Friday, but unfortunately, the battle was cut short when Lappi crashed out of the lead the following morning. From then on, Ogier was in control and cruised to a comfortable victory.

The eight-time world champion continues to demonstrate that he is a force to be reckoned with, even with a limited campaign.

 

Most memorable stage

Thursday night at Guanajuato Rally México is always something special, and this year was no exception. The party atmosphere around the ceremonial start in Guanajuato city centre was unforgettable, and the street stage which followed in the tunnels beneath the city was equally exciting.

 

Biggest surprise

Gus Greensmith's performance was one of the unexpected highlights of the event. Making his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 debut, the young Briton faced a tough challenge in the highly competitive WRC2 category, with drivers including Oliver Solberg and defending champion Emil Lindholm also competing.

However, Greensmith rose to the occasion and put in a solid performance, taking the lead from SS6 on Friday and holding onto it throughout the rally. Although it wasn't necessarily a dominant display, the 26-year-old has proved beyond any doubt that he is a serious title contender this year.

Best of Action

You’ll never believe it

After four intense days of competition, second-placed Thierry Neuville finished just four-tenths of a second ahead of third-placed Elfyn Evans. Neuville secured the runner-up spot in the Wolf Power Stage, overtaking Evans, who was battling a bent suspension arm.

 

Number of the rally

7. The number of times Ogier has won this rally. He now tops the Mexico roll of honour.

 

Fun fact

Ogier made his FIA World Rally Championship debut in Mexico back in 2008. He won the Junior WRC class and finished eighth overall that year in a Citroën C2 S1600.

One to forget

M-Sport Ford had disastrous rally, with all three of the team's Puma Rally1 cars running into trouble in Friday’s opening stage.

Ott Tänak suffered turbocharger failure, dropping more than 14 minutes and dashing any hopes of a strong result. Pierre-Louis Loubet hit a rock on the inside of a right-hand bend, damaging the steering on his car and ruling him out for the day and, to compound the team's misery, Greek privateer Jourdan Serderidis went off the road.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for British squad, especially after Ott Tänak had given the team its first win of the 2023 season at round two in Sweden.

 

Best save

Adrien Fourmaux deserves some praise, not only for his two-wheel moment on Saturday evening, but also for his tenacity and quick thinking on the final day of the rally.

The M-Sport Ford youngster was well on his way to securing a second-place finish in the WRC2 category when the auxiliary belt on his Fiesta Rally2 came off midway through SS21, Otates.

Rather than giving up, Fourmaux and co-driver Alex Coria quickly got to work, replacing the belt on the side of the stage and getting back on the road. They plummeted down the order as a result, but the fact that they were able to finish the rally at all is a testament to the French duo’s mechanical skills.

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