WRC Ogier and Ingrassia snatch slender Mexican lead after two short stages
RALLY GUANAJUATO CORONA 2015, March 5-8, 2015
2015 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3
For immediate release
Thursday, March 5th, 2015
OGIER AND INGRASSIA SNATCH SLENDER RALLY
LEAD AFTER TWO SHORT MEXICAN SPECIAL STAGES
· Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville tied for second overall
· WRC2 advantage to Yuriy Protasov over flying Finn Jari Ketomaa
· Ogier pips Neuville and Meeke on tricky morning shakedown stage
LEÓN (Mexico): The French duo of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held a slender advantage of 1.2 seconds after two short opening special stages of the 12th Rally Guanajuato Corona, round three of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship, on Thursday evening.
Volkswagen team-mates, Andreas Mikkelsen and Ole Floene, reached the overnight halt tied in second overall with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, although the real meat of the action starts with three demanding gravel stages on Friday morning.
“I think my strategy is pretty easy,” said Ogier. “I try to push. Because the start position is a little bit difficult for me. You never know. It will be a long rally with a lot of kilometres. For sure, to be at the press conference and on the podium at the end of the rally, I will try. I love the rally, the profile of the stages. I will try and get some fun and go as fast as I can and see each day where we are.”
French WRC2 leader Stéphane Lefebvre led 29 other starters into the spectacular send off in front of tens of thousands of spectators outside the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in the historic city of Guanajuato.
Thierry Neuville, like all his main rivals, is a fan of the traditional Mexican start proceedings: “It’s the best start of the whole season. It is a very nice area and a lovely atmosphere. People are loving the drivers and the girls are crying, so it is always nice and we love it too! I try to get the best out of it. It is a pleasure to be here.”
A mad 1.01km dash through the narrow tunnels and along the treacherous cobbled streets of the colourful city preceded a blustery super special stage of 4.60km that brought the first evening’s proceedings to a close. Neuville had edged into an early advantage of two-tenths of a second over the Italian Lorenzo Bertelli through the Guanajuato street stage.
Andreas Mikkelsen endured a fraught debut in Mexico last year and has played down his chance of winning. “Last year I had two crashes in three days so not a very good history. I treat this like a new event. I believe consistent fast stages are the way to go.”
Ukraine’s Yuriy Protasov snatched a lead of 3.5 seconds over the Drive DMACK World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5 of Finland’s Jari Ketomaa in WRC2. Protasov was quickest on both stages, with Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs and Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah in third and fourth places at the overnight halt.
“With the long stages, some people think this rally is easy, but it is never easy,” said defending WRC2 champion Al-Attiyah. “It’s very hard for the cars. We try to manage without problems. That is the clear strategy that is needed. We also need to be fast. The shakedown was good for us. My car was working very well. I am quite happy and ready. A lot of people tonight. It was a nice super special.”
Priority 1, 2 and 3 drivers carried out their shakedown tests on a dry and dusty 5.55km stage on Thursday morning and Ogier clocked the quickest time of 3min 47.6sec on his fourth run.
That was 2.2 seconds quicker than runner-up Neuville, with Meeke 0.3 seconds further adrift. Dani Sordo was not so fortunate and was forced to miss the official pre-event press conference after lodging his Hyundai i20 WRC off the track in a shakedown stage ditch on a right-hand corner.
With the slight possibility of overnight rain showers, teams will tackle six gravel special stages on Friday and a pair of shorter timed spectator tests.
Action gets underway with a run through the 9.91km of Los Mexicanos at 09.02hrs and this is followed by the first of two passes through the 44.13km of El Chocolate at 09.35hrs and Las Mines at 10.38hrs. The 1.37km of the Leon street stage (12.16hrs) precedes a midday regroup and service at the Rally Campus.
The three gravel stages are repeated at 14.59hrs, 15.32hrs and 16.35hrs and a 4.60km super special (18.10hrs) brings the day’s action to a close.
Rally Guanajuato Corona 2015 – positions after SS2
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4min 13.0sec
2. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC 4min 14.2sec
3. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ole Floene (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4min 14.2sec
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4min 14.8sec
5. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Citroën DS3 WRC 4min 15.1sec
6. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën DS3 WRC 4min 15.7sec
7. Ott Tanak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 15.9sec
8. Robert Kubica (POL)/Maciej Szczepaniak (POL) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 16.8sec
9. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai i20 WRC 4min 17.6sec
10. Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 18.3sec
11. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tománek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 19.4sec
12. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Daniel Barritt (GBR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 19.5sec
13. Benito Guerra (MEX)/Borja Rozada (MEX) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 21.6sec
14. Yuriy Protaov (UKR)/Pavlo Cherepin (UKR) Ford Fiesta RRC 4min 21.8sec
15. Jari Ketomaa (FIN)/Kaj Lindström (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5 4min 25.3sec
For further media information:
Rally Guanajuato Corona 2015, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, Tel: + 52 (477) 771-4978 or + 52 (477) 771-4961, E-mail: Adrian@rallymexico.com or firstname.lastname@example.org