WRC Ogier holds slender lead over Neuville after three stages in Mexico
RALLY GUANAJUATO CORONA 2016, March 3-6, 2016
2016 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3
For immediate release
Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
OGIER HOLDS SLENDER ADVANTAGE OVER
NEUVILLE AFTER OPENING THREE STAGES IN MEXICO
· Mexican driver Ricardo Trivino makes late switch to Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
· Mikkelsen fastest in Thursday morning’s Shakedown stage; Neuvile second
LEÓN (Mexico): Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia entertained the massive crowds in their Volkswagen Polo R WRC and held a slender advantage of just 1.7 seconds after three short spectator stages at the start of the 13th Rally Guanajuato Corona on Thursday evening.
The traditional ceremonial start outside the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in the historic centre of Guanajuato was as popular as ever and it got the crowd into fever pitch in time for the first of the three stages – a short 1.09km blast through the tunnels and across the treacherous cobbles of one of the most beautiful cities in North America. Two runs through the 2.30km super special that will be used six times between Silao and León brought the day’s action to a conclusion. The special featured a jump and a water splash at the local motor racing circuit.
Behind overnight leader Ogier, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville claimed the second quickest time over the three stages and headed back to Parc Ferme 1.6 seconds ahead of third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala..
Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Mexico’s Benito Guerra had the privilege of running first on the road for the opening stages. But three-time World Champion Sébastien Ogier will lead 27 rivals into the first of the gravel stages on Friday morning. The Frenchman is confident that we can achieve a fourth successive victory in Mexico on his 100th WRC start. He is relishing the monster 80km Guanajuato stage on Sunday as well.
“The long stage is a bit like my highlight of the weekend actually,” said the three-time World Champion. “It’s going to be the first stage I am not hopefully running first on the road. I am happy, for once, that we have a lot of kilometres on Sunday and it’s going to be the longest challenge we have ever done. Everyone will have to adapt to this. Whoever is leading the rally on Saturday night must have a very big gap for Sunday, because we know a lot of thinks can still happen in this 80km.”
Ricardo Trivino made a late car change after his Citroën DS3 R5 failed to arrive in León as planned. The Mexican, therefore, started in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and has sacrificed his chance of scoring WRC 2 points. Fellow Mexican Miguel Ortuño was a non-starter in his Mitsubishi Lancer.
Mikkelsen was the busiest of the leading drivers at the morning’s traditional Shakedown stage. The Norwegian ran for seven laps and recorded the fastest time of 3min 43.9sec. Neuville edged ahead of Ogier into second place with a best of 3min 45.5sec, while Jari-Matti Latvala and Hayden Paddon were the only other drivers to break the 3min 50sec barrier.
“It’s nice to be back in Mexico,” said Mikkelsen. “Normally I have been far behind on this Shakedown, so I decided to do more runs today. It was a bit challenging with the altitude and the car with the engine power. If you are in the wrong gear, then you will be penalised on this rally. I wanted to get used to that and we did a little bit of work with the tyres and the ride heights.”
A further seven special stages are in the itinerary for Friday, starting with the first of two runs through the daunting 54.21km of the El Chocolate test from 09.18hrs – a timed test that several of the leading drivers think will be the most demanding of the entire event. Las Minas follows at 10.41hrs and precedes a run through a street special in León and a return to the service park from 12.34hrs.
The El Chocolate and Las Minas stages are repeated from 14.27hrs and 15.50hrs and the day’s action draws to a close with two further runs through the 2.30km super special that was used on Thursday evening.
Rally Guanajuato Corona 2016 – positions after SS3:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4min 16.5sec
2. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai New i20 WRC 4min 18.2sec
3. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4min 19.8sec
4. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 4min 20.3sec
5. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai New i20 WRC 4min 20.6sec
6. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/John Kennard (NZL) Hyundai New i20 WRC 4min 21.1sec
7. Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA)/Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 22.2sec
8. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tománek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 22.3sec
9. Ott Tanak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 22.4sec
10. Benito Guerra (MEX)/Borja Rozada (ESP) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 22.5sec
11. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 24.6sec
12. Eric Camilli (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 4min 25.2sec
For further media information:
Rally Guanajuato Corona 2016, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, E-mail: Adrian@rallymexico.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: + 52 (477) 771-4961 or + 52 (477) 771-4978.