WRC Frenchman Ogier seals ninth WRC win and first for Volkswagen on gravel in Mexico

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

For immediate release
Sunday, March 10th, 2013


· Finland’s Hirvonen holds on to take second; Neuville claims maiden podium
· Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari confirms crushing WRC 2 victory in Ford Fiesta

LEÓN (Mexico): Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia cantered to the finish of the 10th Rally Guanajuato Mexico in León on Sunday afternoon to record their second successive FIA World Rally Championship victory.

The Frenchman’s huge winning margin of 3min 28.9sec also marked the first gravel success for Volkswagen’s new Polo R WRC and the ninth WRC win in Ogier’s relatively short career – his first came with Citroën in Portugal in 2010. Ogier was able to slow his pace through the final stages, but he did manage to claim the maximum three extra points on the Power Stage to extend his lead after three rounds of what could easily develop into a one-sided Drivers’ Championship.

“We have to take each win when it comes,” said Ogier. “This is an amazing start to the season for us. We had a small scare this morning with a sensor but we are at the end with the perfect amount of points. Now we have a quite good lead in the championship.”

Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen began the final day just over seven seconds in front of Belgian Thierry Neuville in the fight for second position, but the fastest time through the longest stage of the entire event confirmed the runner-up spot for the Citroën DS3 driver, as Neuville claimed his first ever podium finish with an excellent third in the Qatar World Rally Team Ford Fiesta.

“Of course I am happy to get my first podium of this year,” said Hirvonen. “But I know we have a lot of work to do.”

Dani Sordo and Carlos Del Barrio finished a comfortable fourth in the second of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team DS3s and Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah finished his first WRC round of the season in a solid fifth place.

Australian Chris Atkinson enjoyed his return to the series and overtook American Ken Block on the first stage of the morning to confirm sixth overall. Mexican Benito Guerra, Czech Martin Prokop and Russian Evgeny Novikov rounded off the top 10. “Our first rally in WRC and I feel quite happy,” enthused Guerra. “The people are supporting me, but I hope next year to be in the rally and to be more in the fight.”

Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari was in a class of his own in the WRC 2 category. The Ford Fiesta RRC driver finished a fine 12th overall on his Mexican debut and a staggering 9min 14.6sec ahead of Peruvian WRC 2 runner-up Nicolás Fuchs.

“I thought that it would be difficult but we started well,” said Al-Kuwari. “Thanks to Seashore and to M-Sport. All was okay and I am very happy to do 400km with no mistakes.”

Leg three – as it happened

Twenty-two cars started the final three stages and Ogier’s overnight advantage of 2min 52.4sec swelled to 3min 32.4sec when the clerk of the course decided to take 40 seconds off the Frenchman’s time for the delay he suffered on the 18th stage. The decision also handed the Volkswagen driver the stage win and meant that he had won six of the previous day’s seven specials.

Latvala was the first to leave Parc Ferme at the Poliforum and head towards the daunting 54.85km Guanajuatito stage. Østberg followed the Finn into the day’s action, but all eyes were on the battle between Hirvonen and Neuville for second place and whether Atkinson could pass Block and secure sixth.

There was no opportunity for drivers to check in late and switch their running order after event officials decided to issue a bulletin to competitors warning about changing their start order, particularly for the points-scoring Derramadero Power Stage (SS22).

Latvala duly set the target time of 36min 35.6sec, but Michal Kosciuszko stopped in the stage with engine problems as Novikov went inside Latvala’s time and stopped the clocks in 36min 27.0sec. Atkinson was able to pass Block and move into sixth position with the eighth quickest time and stage winner Hirvonen pulled 29.2 seconds clear of Neuville in the battle for the runner-up spot when Neuville slid off the road under braking and lost a little time. Ogier eased his pace to record the second quickest time and his lead was reduced to 3min 15.2sec.

Points were at stake for the top three finishers on the Power Stage and Østberg laid down the gauntlet with a time of 13min 06.4sec, despite running second on the road and acting as a ‘road sweeper’. Hirvonen all but confirmed the runner-up spot when Neuville noticeably eased his pace but Ogier claimed the Power Stage win and the three bonus points with a time of 13min 00.5sec. Østberg’s time was sufficient for second and two points and Latvala earned a point for third.

The final 4.42km super special stage was all that stood in the way of Ogier taking a first victory in Mexico and there were no further dramas for the Frenchman on his way to a comfortable victory. Hirvonen confirmed second, Neuville came in third and Al-Kuwari won the WRC 2 category. Sordo claimed the stage win.

2013 Rally Guanajuato Mexico - positions after SS23 (unofficial):
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julian Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4hr 30min 27.0 sec
2. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Citroën DS3 WRC 4hr 33min 55.9 sec
3. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 34min 50.8 sec
4. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Citroën DS3 WRC 4hr 36min 33.7 sec
5. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 39min 01.6 sec
6. Chris Atkinson (AUS)/Stéphane Prévot (BEL) Citroën DS3 WRC 4hr 41min 55.0 sec
7. Ken Block (USA)/Alex Gelsomino (ITA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 42min 15.3 sec
8. Benito Guerra (MEX)/Borja Rozada (MEX) Citroën DS3 WRC 4hr 43min 16.8 sec
9. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Michal Ernst (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 44min 56.0 sec
10. Evgeny Novikov (RUS)/Ilka Minor (AUT) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 47min 42.3 sec
11. Mads Ostberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Fod Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 57min 07.4 sec
12. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Ford Fiesta RRC - WRC 2 5hr 01min 10.3 sec


For further media information:
2013 Rally Guanajuato Mexico, 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: 10/03/2013

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