WRC Volkswagen and Ogier secure convincing hat-trick of victories in Rally Mexico
RALLY GUANAJUATO CORONA 2015, March 5-8, 2015
2015 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3
For immediate release
Sunday, March 8th, 2015
VOLKSWAGEN AND OGIER SECURE CONVINCING
HAT-TRICK OF VICTORIES IN WRC RALLY MEXICO
· Mads Østberg pips Andreas Mikkelsen to second overall
· Qatar’s Al-Attiyah starts WRC2 title defence with victory in Mexico
· Power Stage win and three bonus points for series leader Ogier
LEÓN (Mexico): There were no last minute dramas for Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia and the defending FIA World Rally Champions cruised to a comfortable victory in the 12th Rally Guanajuato Corona in central Mexico on Sunday afternoon.
Despite an unfavourable starting position for day one, Ogier was in masterly form and controlled his pace perfectly over the 21 special stages and emerged unscathed from much of the carnage that befell many of his rivals. His Volkswagen Polo R WRC never missed a beat and a third WRC win of the season, by the margin of 1min 18.8sec, gives the Frenchman an unofficial 34-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship after three rounds.
“The whole team has done an amazing job this weekend,” said Ogier. “I was very safe in the first two stages. I wanted to save the tyres for a big push in the Power Stage.”
Ogier’s 27th WRC victory catapulted him into third place in the ‘Hall of Fame’ and saw him surpass the 26 wins earned by Spanish legend Carlos Sainz. Sébastien Loeb remains in a class of his own with 78 victories, although Ogier will now be targeting the 30 wins taken by Finland’s Marcus Grönholm.
The all-Norwegian battle for second overall swung in favour of Mads Østberg in the 55km Guanajuatito stage when Andreas Mikkelsen spun and lost a handful of seconds and was not able to regain the time over the closing two stages. Østberg, driving for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, had started the day with an advantage of 4.5 seconds and reached the podium in León 6.3 seconds ahead of Mikkelsen.
“It has been a good rally and this is a good result,” said Østberg. “We were fighting hard all weekend and I was fighting with myself as well. My performance has been very nice.”
Welshman Elfyn Evans was fourth overall in Mexico in 2014 and a consistent and professional performance netted the M-Sport World Rally Team driver a repeat result on this occasion.
When a puncture cost Hyundai works driver Dani Sordo valuable time on Saturday afternoon, and ongoing brake issues and shoulder pain hampered the Spaniard on Sunday, Evans was never pressured on his way to fourth place. Sordo finished fifth and Martin Prokop rounded off the top six for the Jipocar Czech National Team, despite collecting a late puncture after a scary moment on the Derramadero stage.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah inherited a massive WRC2 lead when Yuriy Protasov hit trouble on Saturday afternoon and the Qatari opened the defence of his title in perfect style with a crushing win. His winning margin over Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs was a somewhat flattering 7min 56.3sec.
“There was nothing to be gained by taking any risks today,” said Al-Attiyah, who also finished a superb seventh in the overall standings with his Ford Fiesta RRC. “This is never an easy rally and there are a lot of long stages. We managed our pace well. But it was a good fight for two days. I used my head this week.”
Finland’s Jari Ketomaa and Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari were embroiled in a fascinating tussle for third in WRC2 and the Finn managed to confirm the final podium place in his Drive DMACK World Rally Team Ford.
Both Al-Kuwari and Al-Attiyah and their respective co-drivers, Marshall Clarke and Matthieu Baumel, now face a frantic dash through nine time zones to complete their reconnaissance for this weekend’s Kuwait International Rally.
After the dramatic lake plunge that was broadcast around the world on Friday, the Estonian crew of Ott Tanak and Raigo Molder were able to take part in the final three stages, once M-Sport mechanics had belied the odds and stripped down and repaired their saturated Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Sunday – as it happened
Hidden water and damp was removed from Ott Tanak’s car and the Estonian led 24 rivals into the final three gravel stages of Rally Guanajuato Corona on Sunday morning. Ogier settled into 14th on the road and behind the battle for second place between Østberg and Mikkelsen.
The longest stage of the entire rally and one of the most demanding of the season – the 55.82km of Guanajuatito – was the first on the agenda and would go a long way to deciding the outcome of the third round of the World Championship.
Lorenzo Bertelli was the first driver to hit trouble after he lost a wheel on a right-hand corner, but it was fitting that Tanak – after all the work that had gone into repairing his Ford Fiesta after its lake plunge - was the first driver to complete the special in a target time of 37min 24.7sec.
Sordo aggravated his shoulder injury and complained of a lack of brakes, as Østberg set the quickest time and beat Mikkelsen by 3.5 seconds to increase his grip on second place to eight seconds. His Volkswagen rival spun after 5km, but he was still in contact with the Citroën driver heading to the penultimate Derramadero stage that had been shortened to 6.29km by rally officials. Østberg also broke the Guanajuatito stage record that had been set by Mikko Hirvonen in 2013.
Mikkelsen was frustrated and complained that his dashboard screen had gone black in the stage and prevented his from seeing gear selection and temperatures. “I lost seven seconds with the spin and could have been even faster,” said the Norwegian.
Ogier survived the long stage unscathed with an overall lead of 1min 12.8sec and was surprised that he had not dropped even more time after taking it easy. Al-Attiyah was managing his pace perfectly and remained on course for a crushing victory in WRC2.
Thierry Neuville continued his climb back through the field and set the quickest time in Derramadero and that enabled the Belgian to pull clear of Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari after he had snatched 10th overall on the first stage of the morning. Ogier stayed out of trouble and reached the Power Stage 1min 10.9sec ahead of Østberg who, in turn, began the final stage 8.6 seconds in front of Mikkelsen.
The three Power Stage bonus points were earned by Ogier with a time of 6min 50.5sec. Neuville continued his climb through the field with a third quickest time of 6min 56.3sec and passed both Ketomaa and Fuchs to move into eighth overall.
Rally Guanajuato Corona 2015 – positions after SS21 (unofficial):
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4hr 19min 13.4sec
2. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Citroën DS3 WRC 4hr 20min 32.2sec
3. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ole Floene (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4hr 20min 38.5sec
4. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Daniel Barritt (GBR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 22min 53.6sec
5. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai i20 WRC 4hr 24min 15.2sec
6. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tománek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4hr 25min 49.5sec
7. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Ford Fiesta RRC 4hr 34min 06.1sec
8. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC 4hr 41min 56.7sec
9. Nicolas Fuchs (PER)/Fernando Musano (ARG) Ford Fiesta R5 4hr 42min 02.4sec
10 Jari Ketomaa (FIN)/Kaj Lindström (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5 4hr 42min 23.6sec
11. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Marshall Clarke (GBR) Ford Fiesta RRC 4hr 42min 58.2sec
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