WRC Ogier and Ingrassia gain WRC lead with second Rally Mexico victory

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

For immediate release
Sunday, March 9th, 2014


· Finland’s Latvala confirms second; Neuville nets Hyundai’s first ever WRC podium
· Yuriy Protasov hangs on to seal WRC 2 win; Kris Meeke crashes on final stage

LEÓN (Mexico): The French crew of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia stayed clear of trouble on the final morning of the 11th Rally Guanajuato Corona to seal a second successive victory in the Mexican event and move to the top of the points’ standings in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship.

Leading by 1min 00.3sec at the start of the final morning’s four timed special stages, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC crew won two more tests to confirm a winning margin over team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila of 1min 12.6sec. The result was also Latvala’s best ever result in Mexico.

Ogier’s second Mexican win duly made him the equal ninth most successful driver in the history of the championship with 18 victories. The Frenchman duly surpassed Miki Biasion’s total of 17 successes and equalled the legendary Finn Hannu Mikkola, although Ogier still has some way to go to match former team-mate Sébastien Loeb’s stunning record of 78 WRC wins.

“It was a perfect week,” said Ogier. “I came here very angry after what happened in Sweden. The car was perfect, very strong and very fast. I am very happy.”

The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team confirmed a totally unexpected podium finish on only their third WRC event since returning to the championship with the i20 WRC. Belgian Thierry Neuville held his nerve and avoided mistakes to confirm a fine third position with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul.

The podium finish marked a little piece of history for the Korean manufacturer. It was their first top three success in the history of the WRC and bettered a pair of previous fourth-placed finishes for Kenneth Eriksson (Rally Australia – 2000) and Alister McRae (Wales Rally GB – 2001). Australia’s Chris Atkinson finished a solid seventh in the second car.

“The car ran without any problems. There are a lot of points we still need to work on, but this bodes so well for the future,” said a delighted Neuville, who suffered a scare after the final stage and was forced to stop on the road section back to León with radiator and overheating issues before reaching the time control, courtesy of water and Corona beer being added to the radiator.

Welshman Elfyn Evans kept his composure and avoided becoming embroiled in a scrap with Neuville over the closing stages to confirm fourth place in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the M-Sport World Rally Team. “We made good progress this week and I can look forward to Portugal now.”

Martin Prokop survived a frightening moment in the marathon Guanajuatito special to bring his Jipocar Czech National Team-entered Ford Fiesta RS WRC to the finish in fifth overall. “This was a very tough rally and this result is amazing for us,” said the Czech.

Mexican Benito Guerra delighted the myriad of home fans with a sixth-placed finish. “I am really happy with this result and I am sure it will be really positive for the sponsors. I hope now that I will be able to do the rally in Argentina,” said Guerra.

Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen and Citroën’s Kris Meeke recovered well from first day woes and benefited from the Rally 2 ruling to hold eighth and ninth overall. But Meeke clipped a rock on the final stage, damaged the DS3’s steering and was forced to retire in dramatic circumstances. Hirvonen confirmed eighth position.

Norwegian driver Mads Østberg, who had led for a time on the first morning before losing second position on Saturday’s first stage, was quickest overall through Guanajuatito on Sunday morning and finished ninth in the second Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team DS3 WRC.

Ukraine’s Yuriy Protasov began the final day with a massive lead in WRC 2 over Max Rendina of Italy and the Ford Fiesta R5 WRC driver needed to maintain his concentration over the closing four stages without making mistakes to extend his lead in the championship. A broken front driveshaft gave Protasov a late scare, but he finished 10th.

Ott Tanak set some useful stage times during the day but, like Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs, the Estonian had blotted his copybook earlier in the rally and was too far behind to make a WRC 2 challenge. Mexican driver Ricardo Cordero was the highest-placed of the Group N finishers in 12th overall.

Sunday – as it happened

With the exception of Robert Kubica, 25 drivers headed out of the Rally Campus in León to start the remaining four special stages. Action began with two consecutive runs through the super special stage for a total of 4.42km and Ogier set the quickest time to record his 249th WRC stage win. His lead over Latvala climbed to 1min 4sec.

Mikkelsen set the second quickest time and that was all the more remarkable bearing in mind that this was the fifth run through the stage this year and the first time that the Norwegian had actually made it to the stage start! Estonia’s Ott Tanak impressed with the fifth quickest time in his Ford Fiesta R5, but Frenchman Quentin Gilbert was forced out of WRC 2 with a damaged radiator.

But Sunday’s action revolved around the massive Guanajuatito stage – a daunting 55.92km of demanding gravel that would undoubtedly decide the outcome of this year’s rally. Meeke was first through the special in the DS3 and set a target time of 36min 26.1sec, but both Prokop and Guerra survived a couple of scary moments and Atkinson complained about brake and gearshift issues.

Østberg set the fastest time to delay Ogier’s 250th WRC fastest stage time celebrations, but there were no movements at the head of the leader board as crews headed towards the penultimate 11.63km of the Derramadero stage.

Protasov eased his pace dramatically through the special after breaking a front drive shaft and, in so doing, dropped seven and a half minutes and all but ceded 10th overall to Østberg. The Ukraine driver reached the start of SS21 a mere 4.9sec in front of the Norwegian.

Østberg was again quickest in the penultimate stage and the gained 10th place from Protasov, but he was not eligible to qualify for the bonus points on the final Power Stage at El Brinco.

Would Ogier mark his 250th WRC stage victory with three bonus points at the televised El Brinco special? Meeke was first into action, but he clipped a rock on the line, slid sideways and broke the DS3’s steering in a quest for bonus points. It was a dramatic start to the televised special as a worldwide audience watched in amazement as the car was taken from the stage on a rescue truck and Meeke’s ninth place was lost.

Hirvonen set the early Power Stage target time of 4min 39.1sec and Neuville fell just short on his way to claiming Hyundai’s first ever WRC podium finish, as the rain began to fall. Latvala crept inside his fellow Finn’s time to hold the provisional quickest time of 4min 36.0sec, but Ogier was not to be denied and he sealed a second Mexican win with the fastest time on the Power Stage. It was also a perfect moment for the Frenchman to clinch his 250th WRC stage win.

2014 Rally Guanajuato Corona - positions after SS22:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4hr 27min 41.8sec
2. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4hr 28min 54.4sec
3. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC 4hr 33min 10.4sec
4. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Daniel Barritt (GBR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 34min 31.1sec
5. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tománek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 37min 36.2sec
6. Benito Guerra (MEX)/Borja Rozada (MEX) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 40min 39.4sec
7. Chris Atkinson (AUS)/Stéphane Prévot (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC 4hr 42min 57.2sec
8. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 44min 48.6sec
9. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Citroën DS3 WRC 4hr 53min 23.4sec
10. Yuriy Protasov (UKR)/Pavlo Cherepin (UKR) Ford Fiesta R5 WRC 2 4hr 56min 00.0sec

FIA World Rally Championship – positions after round 3

1. Sébestien Ogier (FRA) 63 pts
2. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 60 pts
3. Mads Østberg (NOR) 32 pts
4. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 24 pts
5. Elfyn Evans (GBR) 20 pts
6. Bryan Bouffier (FRA) 18 pts
7. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) 18 pts
8. Kris Meeke (GBR) 17 pts
9. Thierry Neuville (BEL) 15 pts
10. Ott Tanak (EST) 10 pts, etc

1. Volkswagen Motorsport 115 pts
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 60 pts
3. M-Sport World Rally Team 40 pts
4. Hyundai Shell World Rally Team 31 pts
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 28 pts
6. Jipocar Czech National Team 10 pts
7. RK M-Sport World Rally Team 4 pts


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

Twitter: @RallyMexico
Facebook: Rally Mexico



Date issued: 09/03/2014

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