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WRC Volkswagen's Ogier leads in Mexico after opening super special stage


RALLY GUANAJUATO CORONA 2014, March 6-9, 2014
2014 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3

For immediate release
Thursday, March 6th, 2014

VOLKSWAGEN’S OGIER AND INGRASSIA LEAD RALLY
GUANAJUATO CORONA AFTER OPENING SUPER SPECIAL

· Stunning second place for Estonian’s Tanak; Mikkelsen slots into third
· Volkswagen’s championship leader Latvala fastest on shakedown stage
· Rally Guanajuato Corona 2014 celebrates International Women’s Day


LEÓN (Mexico): Defending World Champions Sébastien Ogier and Julian Ingrassia sneaked into a slender three-tenths of a second lead after the opening 1.01km Monster Super Special stage of the 11th Rally Guanajuato Corona through mining tunnels and around the narrow, cobbled streets of Guanajuato on Thursday evening.

Estonian youngster Ott Tanak produced a stunning performance to set the second quickest time in his Ford Fiesta R5. Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen was third in a Polo R WRC and the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Kris Meeke slotted into fourth position on his Mexican debut. Hyundai’s Chris Atkinson stopped on the stage and dropped 24.7 seconds to the leading Polo.

Twenty-six drivers from 15 countries were flagged away from the traditional ceremonial start in front of many thousands of adoring fans at the spectacular Alhóndiga de Granaditas in the historic silver town, in what has traditionally become one of the best starting locations ever used in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship.

“This rally is going to be quite tricky to be honest,” said fourth-placed Meeke. “I always looked at the television in the past and I saw nice open, fast flowing stages. But it was quite a surprise when I saw them first hand with first and second gear corners in this heat. The last time I was in Mexico, I was on a motorcycle on a stage of 1,850 kilometres, non-stop, and it took 41 hours on a motorbike. So some of the longer stages will be a drop in the ocean to that!”

Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala topped the morning’s shakedown times with a quickest fourth run of 3min 53.6sec and that was two seconds quicker than the time set by team mate Sébastien Ogier on his second pass through the shortened stage. “For me, tomorrow is about damage limitation and not making any mistakes when I am running first on the road,” said Latvala.

Meeke clocked the second quickest time of 3min 54.7sec late in the shakedown session, while Volkswagen’s third driver Andreas Mikkelsen, Citroën’s Mads Østberg and Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen were the only other drivers to break the four-minute barrier.

“Last year it was a little bit different with the rules for qualification,” admitted Ogier. “I suppose I have a better starting position than Jari-Matti (on Friday). There is always a lot of cleaning of the stages here and loose gravel that we have to deal with. My pace on the shakedown was not bad. I am confident that I can fight for the victory.”

Rally Guanajuato Corona 2014 celebrates International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 8th, Rally Guanajuato Corona organisers teamed up with the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission members and OMDIA-FIA Mexico officials to honour women’s achievements and involvement in this year’s third round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Volunteers joined female event and FIA officials at a photo call on Thursday afternoon in the Rally Campus in the presence of Michèle Mouton, president of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, Jenny Bertin, president of the OMDIA-FIA Mexico Women in Motorsport Commission, and FIA media delegate and FIA Women in Motorsport Commission member Hayley Gallagher. March 8th was designated as International Women’s Day by the United Nations in 1975.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of women who have been working behind the scenes to make this event in Mexico such a success,” said Mouton. “Our mission at the FIA is to see more women actively involved in motor sport. I hope that one day there will be no need to have an International Women’s Day.”

Friday

Tomorrow (Friday), offers 10 timed special stages, starting with the relatively short 9.88km of the Los Mexicanos special from 08.32hrs. The first of two runs through the demanding 44.03km El Chocolate test follows at 09.05hrs and a run through Las Minas from 10.08hrs brings the morning’s action to a conclusion.

After a regroup and service at the new Rally Campus in León, the three special stages are repeated at 14.08hrs, 14.41hrs and 15.44hrs before a trio of quick-fire, short spectator stages of 2.6km (16.37hrs), 2.21km (17.37hrs) and 2.21km (17.42hrs) bring the day’s action to a close. Rally Guanajuato Corona 2014 finishes in León on Sunday afternoon.

Rally Guanajuato Corona 2014 - positions after SS1:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julian Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 52.9sec
2. Ott Tanak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta R5 53.2sec
3. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 53.3sec
4. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën DS3 WRC 53.5sec
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 53.7sec
6. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC 54.0sec
7. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Citroën DS3 WRC 54.2sec
8. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 54.3sec

Ends

For further media information:
Rally Guanajuato Corona 2014, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, Tel: + 52 (477) 771-4274 or + 52 (477) 771-4671, E-mail: eugenio@rallymexico.com, mauriciog@rallymexico.com or ndppublicity@googlemail.com

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Date issued: 06/03/2014

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