WRC First blood for Ogier after two stages of Rally Guanajuato Mexico

RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO 2013, March 7-10, 2013
2013 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3

For immediate release
Thursday, March 7th, 2013


· Mads Østberg holds second overall; third position for Thierry Neuville
· Early WRC 2 lead for Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari after two timed stages
· Hirvonen fastest in Qualifying stage and opts to start from 13th place

LEÓN (Mexico): The Volkswagen Polo R WRC duo of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held a tiny advantage of just three-tenths of a second in the 10th Rally Guanajuato Mexico after two short spectator stages in Guanajuato on Thursday evening.

Norwegian Mads Østberg and Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson (Ford) were second overall and the Belgian pairing of Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford) slotted into third place at the overnight halt in León.

Neuville was quickest through the opening 1.05km Monster street stage around the narrow, slippery tarmac roads of Guanajuato, before Frenchman Ogier set the fastest time on the 2.60km sprint through Guanajuato’s Bicentennial Park. Czech driver Martin Prokop overshot the flying finish boards in spectacular fashion and survived unscathed without losing time and Finn Jari-Matti Latvala had a minor problem on the start line with his starting system and endured a frustrating stall.

“That first one was a dangerous little stage,” admitted America’s Ken Block, who held 12th overall at the end of the evening. “I hit a kerb in it last year. No problems this time, but to see all those fans out there is amazing.”

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari held the lead in the WRC 2 category after two stages. The Qatari Ford driver reached León with an advantage of 5.6 seconds over Peruvian Nicolás Fuchs. Al-Kuwari had also set the fastest time through the opening stage and held 14th overall.

Road-sweeper Ogier had set the target time of 4min 01.1sec through the morning’s Qualifying stage at Llano Grande, but Mads Østberg slipped inside the Frenchman’s time by just seven-tenths of a second. Neither Dani Sordo nor Latvala could get inside the Norwegian’s time either, but Hirvonen produced a stunning stage time of 3min 57.2sec to take the fastest time.

Martin Prokop opted for the hard DMACK tyres compound, lacked confidence and was 15 seconds slower than the flying Finn, as Novikov slotted into second position among the 13 runners with a time of 3min 57.9sec.

“We had a different strategy to everyone else and we wanted to save the hard tyres for the rally,” admitted championship leader Ogier. “We wanted a safe strategy. Also, I was first on the road and it was a disadvantage.”

Hirvonen has opted to start Friday’s first stage from 13th position and last of the top-seeded drivers on the road. Ogier will start ninth and Poland’s Michal Kosciusko has the unenviable task of ‘cleaning’ the stage surfaces from first position in his Mini John Cooper Works Countryman after opening proceedings with a time of 55 seconds through the first street stage on Thursday evening.

Scrutineering woes meant that the Mitsubishis of Mexico’s Rodrigo Salgado and Francisco Name were not eligible to take the ceremonial start in Guanajuato and the duo were demoted to the national rally running behind Rally Guanajuato Mexico.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the busiest day of the entire event with 25 crews tackling another 11 of the 23 timed special stages. Action gets underway with the first of two runs through the El Cubilete, Las Minas, Los Mexicanos and the new El Chocolate tests.

Teams then enter a short street stage in León, benefit from the midday service break at the Poliforum service park and then the four timed gravel stages are repeated in the afternoon before two early evening sprints through a super special bring the day’s action to a close.

2013 Rally Guanajuato Mexico - overall positions after SS2:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julian Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 3min 19.5 sec
2. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 19.8 sec
3. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 20.1 sec
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Citroën DS3 WRC 3min 20.6 sec
5. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Citroën DS3 WRC 3min 20.9 sec
6. Chris Atkinson (AUS)/Stéphane Prévot (BEL) Citroën DS3 WRC 3min 21.9 sec
7. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 23.6 sec
8. Evgeny Novikov (RUS)/Ilka Minor (AUT) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 24.8 sec
9. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 3min 25.9 sec
10. Benito Guerra (MEX)/Borja Rozada (MEX) Citroën DS3 WRC 3min 26.6 sec
11. Michal Kosciuszko (POL)/Maciej Szczepaniak (POL) Mini John Cooper Works 3min 30.2 sec
12. Ken Block (USA)/Alex Gelsomino (ITA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 30.7 sec
13. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Michal Ernst (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 30.8 sec, etc


For further media information:
Guanajuato Rally Mexico 2013, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, Tel: + 52 (477) 711-3688 or + 52 (477) 711-3774, E-mail: eugenio@rallymexico.com, mauriciog@rallymexico.com or ndppublicity@googlemail.com



Date issued: 07/03/2013

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