It’s time to dust off your sombrero and grab a Corona from the fridge because Sebastien Ogier has won Rally Mexico for the third year in a row.
Before the event the reigning world champion said it would be difficult to manage a podium finish due to regulations seeing him running first on the road, sweeping the dust and gravel aside for his following opponents. And yet, in the end, the Volkswagen ace won the event by almost 1 minute and 20 seconds from CitroÃ«n’s Mads Ostberg.
“Absolutely incredible! I am so happy and proud of this victory in Mexico,” Ogier said after his third win from three starts in 2015. “It is one of the best wins of my career. Julien and I had a perfect weekend, the Polo was fantastic, and the team did a magnificent job.
“We pushed like crazy from the word go in the cockpit, came up with the cleverest tyre selection on Fridayâ€”and were rewarded in the end.
“It is my third win in a row here. The Rally Mexico seems to be kind to me. And I love coming here. The route suits me, the countryside is fantastic, and the fans make the rally a great fiesta every year.”
Andreas Mikkelsen moved up to second in the championship standings thanks to his third place on a weekend where many front runners had problems.
Kris Meeke crashed out. Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out. And so did Thierry Neuville.
The most spectacular incident was when Ott Tanak gently rolled into a lake. That in itself wasn’t so bad, it was the sight of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC sinking and the subsequent footage of he and co-driver Raigo Molder swimming to safety that grabbed the headlines. We’ll have more on that later.
In the meantime Ogier now enjoys a 34 point lead in the drivers’ championship and appears well on the way to a third straight title. The WRC returns in mid-April for Rally Argentina.
Flight of fantasy in Mexico: win number three of the season for Ogier and Ingrassia in the Polo R WRC
- Third victory in Mexico, third win of the season for Ogier/Ingrassia
- Second in the World Championship â€“ Mikkelsen/FlÃ¸ene on the podium for third time in a row
- Win number 25 for the Polo R WRC, Volkswagen extends lead in the Manufacturersâ€™ Championship
Hat-trick for the world champions: Volkswagen duo SÃ©bastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) pulled off an outstanding victory at the Rally Mexico. A dazzling display at the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) produced win number three of the season and their third success in a row in Mexico. The French pair now has an impressive 27 victories to its name, putting them ahead of rally legend Carlos Sainz and into third place in the all-time winners list. It was the 25th triumph for Volkswagen in its 29th rally with the Polo R WRC. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola FlÃ¸ene (N/N) also completed a hat-trick, claiming their third podium finish in a row and climbing into second place in the Driver and Co-Driversâ€™ Championship.
Irresistible #GOgier: double world champion in superb form
It does not get much better than that: SÃ©bastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a perfect rally in Mexico. From the first metre to the last â€“ the double world champions finished in the top three on 20 of the 21 special stages. They even clocked the fastest time on nine of the 21 stages. Ogier/Ingrassia moved into the lead just 5.61 kilometres into the rally and never surrendered that position. There was no lack of competition for the works drivers from Wolfsburg: as well as their team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola FlÃ¸ene and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai) and Mads Ã˜stberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, CitroÃ«n) were also heavily involved in what was an exciting battle for the lead.
Ogier/Ingrassia laid the foundation for their fifth victory in a row with a clever tyre selection on Friday, when they overcame the disadvantage of having to open the route and sweep the roads free of loose gravel by opting for a crossover mixture of hard and soft Michelin tyres. They made the most of their masterstroke with a flawless display of driving and navigating.
Third podium in succession â€“ top performance from Mikkelsen/FlÃ¸ene
Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola FlÃ¸ene continued the success story they have been writing since the start of the season. They added a third podium at the Rally Mexico to the ones they had previously claimed at the Rally Monte Carlo and Rally Sweden. Lining up for the first time in the Polo R WRC at this rally, their third place finish propelled also them into second place in the Driver and Co-Driversâ€™ Championship. The key to their success was to drive safely, but at the same time fast. Despite the unique special stages in Mexico, on which experience is invaluable, they were always within reach of the leaders. In the end, Mikkelsen and FlÃ¸ene finished just 6.3 seconds behind second-placed Mads Ã˜stberg.
Early set-back, slight consolation for Latvala/Anttila
Up to the twelfth special stage, they were the only ones able to match the pace of Ogier and Ingrassia: Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila. However, in trying to put their team-mates under pressure, they skidded into a bank with the rear of their Polo R WRC. The resulting suspension damage forced them to retire early on Saturday. Latvala/Anttila returned to action on Sunday, fighting their way back to claim six points for Volkswagen in the Manufacturersâ€™ Championship.
The cherry on the cake: the only way is up, 21 times â€“ â€œEl Brincoâ€ brings curtain down
Higher than anything in Europe â€“ the entire Rally Mexico is held over 1,800 metres above sea level. For comparison: the highest point on the ten European rallies is 1,608 metres above sea level â€“ on the â€œLa BollÃ¨ne-VÃ©subieâ€“Sospelâ€ stage at the Rally Monte Carlo. And the Rally Mexico is always a time for superlatives: the World Rally Cars reached the â€œroof of the WRCâ€ at 2,752 metres on the â€œEl Chocolateâ€ special stage, while the final Sunday saw them complete the longest stage of the 2015 season â€“ the 55.82-kilometre â€œGuanajuatitoâ€. And then there was the emotional start in the silver mine city of Guanajuato, where the passionate fans ensured nobody was spared goosebumps.
The conditions on the special stages posed big challenges for the drivers and co-drivers. The road surface on the first of six gravel rallies in a row consisted of a mixture of loose sand on the one hand and rough, jagged gravel on the other. â€œOtatesâ€, â€œLos Mexicanosâ€, â€œIbarillaâ€ and â€œDerramaderoâ€ are classics on the WRC calendar. The â€œEl Brincoâ€ Power Stage, with its famous and popular jump, provided a fitting finish. The three bonus points for the fastest time went to SÃ©bastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, with Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola FlÃ¸ene picking up two extra points for finishing second.
25 of 48, and 21 â€“ fact finding at the Rally Mexico
SÃ©bastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassiaâ€™s success not only marked the 25th victory for the Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship, but was also the 47th podium for Volkswagen since the manufacturer first entered its World Rally Car in 2013. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola FlÃ¸ene finished third to add podium number 48. Volkswagen is now undefeated in the last seven WRC events. Since 2013, 373 of a possible 542 stage wins have gone to Wolfsburg. The Volkswagen drivers have also won 21 of the 28 Power Stages since 2013.
Quotes after day four of the Rally Mexico
SÃ©bastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
â€œAbsolutely incredible! I am so happy and proud of this victory in Mexico. It is one of the best wins of my career. Julien and I had a perfect weekend, the Polo was fantastic, and the team did a magnificent job. We pushed like crazy from the word go in the cockpit, came up with the cleverest tyre selection on Friday â€“ and were rewarded in the end. It is my third win in a row here. The Rally Mexico seems to be kind to me. And I love coming here. The route suits me, the countryside is fantastic, and the fans make the rally a great fiesta every year.â€
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
â€œAll in all, the weekend obviously did not go to plan. I had hoped for more from my starting position, and did not manage to establish a rhythm over the course of the weekend. I tried to put as much pressure as possible on Ogier, which meant driving at the limit. My rally was over once I damaged the suspension. Fortunately I have a break now and have time to forget about the disappointing start to the season. I need to find my rhythm and then attack again in Argentina.â€
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
â€œThird place at the Rally Mexico plus two bonus points on the Power Stage â€“ that is an absolutely fantastic result for us. We do not have an awful lot of experience of the special stages, so always set a safe pace. Our plan was to get through each special stage without making any mistakes. We executed that perfectly. I am totally happy with our rally. And second place in the championship does not look bad either.â€
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
â€œTo win the Rally Mexico three times in a row is a fantastic effort. SÃ©bastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia more than deserve this triumph for their outstanding display of driving and navigating. From tyre selection to a perfectly calculated risk strategy â€“ it was a flawless rally from the two of them. However, they are not the only ones who have continued their superb start to the season: Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola FlÃ¸ene have too. They produced a tactical masterclass and looked very good. You cannot forget that Andreas was making only his second appearance here and had hardly any experience of the special stages. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila made the best of the unfortunate situation after their crash yesterday and picked up some points for the team in the Manufacturersâ€™ Championship. All in all, we are very happy with the outcome of the Rally Mexico.â€
And then there was …
… a greeting from champion to champion. After Renaud Lavillenie added the European Indoor Championship to his collection of pole vault titles with a height of 6.04 metres at the weekend, SÃ©bastien Ogier congratulated his fellow Frenchman on Facebook. Lavillenie had been a passenger on board Ogierâ€™s Polo R WRC at the Rally Monte Carlo. Lavillenie is World Athlete of the Year and Olympic champion.
And then there was also …
… International Womenâ€™s Day on the Sunday of the rally, which was also celebrated by the International Automobile Federation FIA in LeÃ³n. In 2009 the FIA formed the â€œWomen in Motorsport Commissionâ€, of which MichÃ¨le Mouton is president, in order to support ladies in motorsport. Three ladies from Volkswagen also appeared in the official photo.
FIA Rally World Championship (WRC), Rally Mexico â€“ Final Results
1. SÃ©bastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 4h 19m 13.4s
2. Mads Ã˜stberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), CitroÃ«n + 1m 18.8s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola FlÃ¸ene (N/N), Volkswagen + 1m 25.1s
4. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 3m 40.2s
5. Dani Sordo/Marc MartÃ (E/E), Hyundai + 5m 01.8s
6. Martin Prokop/Jan TomÃ¡nek (CZ/CZ), Ford + 6m 36.1s
7. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (Q/F), Ford + 14m 52.7s
8. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 22m 43.3s
9. Nicolas Fuchs/Fernando Musano (PE/RA), Ford + 22m 49.0s
10. Jari Ketomaa/Kaj LindtsrÃ¶m (FIN/FIN), Ford + 23m 10.2s
15. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 48m 48.6s
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Overall Standings â€“ Drivers’ Championship
1. SÃ©bastien Ogier 81
2. Andreas Mikkelsen 47
3. Thierry Neuville 35
4. Mads Ã˜stberg 32
5. Elfyn Evans 26
6. Jari-Matti Latvala 19
7. Dani Sordo 18
8. Martin Prokop 14
9. Ott TÃ¤nak 12
10. Hayden Paddon 10
11. Kris Meeke 10
12. Nasser Al-Attiyah 6
13. SÃ©bastien Loeb 6
14. Yurii Protasov 2
15. NicolÃ¡s Fuchs 2
16. Jari Ketomaa 1
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 99
2. Hyundai Motorsport 75
3. M-Sport 48
4. CitroÃ«n Total Abu Dhabi WRT 42
5. Jipocar Czech National Team 20
6. Volkswagen Motorsport II 15
7. Hyundai Motorsport N 3
8. FWRT 1