FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 -WRC Mexico (MEX) – WRC 08/03/2018 to 11/03/2018 – PHOTO : @World

Sunday 12 March

 

Present:

1st – Sébastien Ogier, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

1st – Julien Ingrassia, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

2nd – Dani Sordo, Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT

2nd – Carlos del Barrio, Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT

3rd – Kris Meeke, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

3rd – Paul Nagle, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team  

 

Q:
Sébastien, you are the outright winner on a brilliant 10th anniversary since you came here for the first time and won the JWRC category back in 2008. Ten years later, you come and win the main WRC event in serious style. How are you feeling?

SO:   
Super happy. Like you say, it was a fantastic win with Julien in 2008 in the Junior category. It was like a dream to be here. There have been 10 years for us and this is one of my best performances. It is always hard to judge; I have pushed a lot and Julien was perfect and so was the team. We have scored valuable points and we delivered a better performance than last year.

 

Q:
You appeared to be on the limit the whole event?  

SO:
Yes, I was pretty much flat out, that is true all the weekend. On day one you start as one of the earlier runners and you try your best and you are on your limit. Some frustration is coming out and you try to minimise the time loss and we did that on Friday. Saturday, we were in a better position and we started to attack in the afternoon. We took the lead. I was proud that we gave everything up to the last stage and we were strong on the Power Stage.  

 

Q:

When did you think you could fight for the win?

SO:

On Saturday midday, we began to put the pressure on. The difference was 15 seconds and Seb (Loeb) got a puncture. Without the puncture, I think we had a higher rhythm than him. It would have been a close battle. Now we know that Seb is back with us. Not so many people can do that in the world. Well done Seb Loeb.   

 

Q:
Julien  what are your feelings after such a fantastic 10th anniversary win?

JI:
This is a beautiful event, but it is not as easy as it looks. The stages are close to the Service Park but they are demanding stages.

 

Q:
We saw you at an incredible pace. All those notes that you have to read under pressure, it’s a very challenging rally.

JI:
This is our job. The co-driver has a lot of tasks, like navigation, refuelling and things. All co-drivers are doing a great job. We had fun in the car. It was a good battle. We have a very good car and we are more comfortable in the car than we have been in a long time.

 

Q:
Was it good to have Daniel Elena back?

JI:
He has not changed a lot but we are happy he was here. He had issues on the Dakar. He was brave and we were happy to share some good photos of all the crews with him here.

 

Q:
Dani, you returned to the WRC after missing Sweden. What are your thoughts on second place after leading for some of the event?

DS:
I am happy. The road position I had on the first day was better for me and Loeb. Then, on Saturday, we take a puncture and Ogier was coming really fast. At the end, it is not so bad second place. I like this rally. We had not so bad grip. I enjoy a lot and the car was working well. No problems, so it was good.

 

Q:
The next event is Corsica. How do you feel about that?

DS:
I like it a lot for the corners and it is really good with the pace notes. It is a really demanding rally.

 

Q:
Carlos, we have not seen you on a WRC podium since Alsace in 2013. You must be delighted to be here?

CdB:
This is a special feeling. I was working on Monte-Carlo and I spent four years in the Spanish Championship as a commentator speaking about these events and now I am sat down with all these guys around me. It has paid off and that is a great feeling. Now I focus on Corsica. As Julien said, this rally is the most demanding for a co-driver. In Finland, that is even a fast event with crests, but you can see the trees and the line. Here the corners are tight, they are different and there may be some stones and hazards around and the roads are very narrow. There is too much in every corner.


Q:
Kris, third position but it could have been second. I guess it’s good points for the championship and a podium finish. But I get the feeling you are disappointed?

KM:
To be honest it was not a clean weekend for me, simple little spins, nothing serious, no real dramas, but I had everything. The car was good enough to win, the road position was good, and I had the pace. Only on Saturday afternoon did I lose one tenth of a second each kilometre to Seb. I was not good enough this weekend. Still I’ve had worse when I’ve been on a plane on Saturday evenings. I guess it’s points in the bag and the car is strong. In Corsica, we will have a strong team, so that is not so bad.

 

Q:
What was it like having Sébastien Loeb back as part of the team?

KM:
I guess it’s like when Seb (Ogier) arrived in M-Sport. You have a multiple champion with wins under his belt. Everyone raises their game. Seb (Loeb) is rallying’s royalty. He brings a presence with him. It’s great to have him around. There is an energy in the whole team and we were lifted this weekend. He did what I expected him to do. He has won from running first on the road before and he took time to build his rhythm. But he did a good job. He made a mistake and I made a mistake. We could have easily been two cars on the podium.

 

Q:

And things are going well in the team now.

KM:

We have had some team personnel changes within the team. There have been big changes within PSA Motorsport and an amalgamation under one roof of the RallyCross, rally, Dakar and Formula E. It took some time to settle down. It has started now and Pierre Budar is doing a fantastic job and the motivation is there. There are improvements in the car and a different attitude of everyone. We have some improvement for future rallies as well and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.

 

Q:
Paul, a podium finish. You were being hunting down by Dani this morning. How are you feeling?

PN:
This is a disappointing podium. But we have 32 points and we had less in Spain on round 11 last year. The whole team is showing promise.

 

Q:

What happened this morning?

PN:

This morning it was a slow first gear corner. Normally you bounce off a bank but we fell into a gully and spectators got us back on the road. But the damage was done. It could have been worse and we had a couple of spins yesterday.

 

Q:
Malcolm, it was a tough day on Friday, but you must be delighted with this result?

MW:
The great work was done on Friday. Then, to achieve what he did on Saturday afternoon was the best drive Sébastien has done since joining the team. To go from equal third to first in two stages was quite remarkable. We were not as competitive here last year.  

 

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

 

Present:

1st – Pontus Tidemand, Škoda Motorsport

1st – Jonas Andersson, Škoda Motorsport

 

Q:
Pontus, congratulations on your victory. It was one heck of a win. You had a big lead, no battles, just a faultless drive?

PT:
Yes, first of all, thanks to all the team. It’s been a really nice rally and we enjoyed it. I like the stages, some parts were very slippery, but we had a very good car and good balance makes it easy to drive.

 

Q:
You made a big lead early on. How do you manage to keep your focus after that? Do you test things?

PT:
A little bit with tyres, yes. Credit to Jonas for pushing me a bit to keep the adrenaline going. It helps with the concentration.

 

Q:
What is the toughest challenge on an event like this?

PT:
It’s the grip change I think. You are on the limit then you have to check how the grip looks or you will go off the road. We are working hard to defend the WRC 2 title. That’s what is in our mind now. I hope it will happen again.  

 

Q:
Jonas, you were keeping Pontus on the straight and narrow. How do you do that?

JA:
It’s difficult if you go flat out and make a mistake. You need to find a fine balance. We try to push each other a little bit. We had more than a decent pace and we gain more experience and so we try to keep the pace up a bit and have a clean run. We also have to consider the small matter of any big rocks that may have moved on the stage.

 

Q:
What has been the toughest challenge this weekend?

JA:
Actually this weekend has been really nice. The whole rally is always a big challenge but nothing sticks out in my mind. It is tough with the weather and there are long days in the car when you are sweating and drinking a lot. It is a really nice rally. The organisers worked well.  

 

Q:

There’s always a good atmosphere here, isn’t there?

JA:

Some places I see the fans, like on Thursday, we have seen them there (Guanajuato) before. I remember the good old days. This was the best ceremonial start ever. There were a crazy amount of people. It was an amazing atmosphere.

 

 

 

LEÓN (México): Five-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier stormed to the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings with an impressive fourth victory in Rally Guanajuato México.

The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver and co-driver Julien Ingrassia began the final day with a lead of 35.9 seconds and were even able to conserve their tyres for a final push for additional points on the Power Stage.

Ogier’s 42nd WRC success by the winning margin of 1min 03.6sec was a second for the Ford Fiesta WRC on gravel and, more importantly, marked the first win for the Blue Oval since Estonian Markko Martin won on the event’s debut in the WRC back in 2004 at the wheel of a Ford Focus WRC 03.

Ogier said: “Fantastic. It’s a special place for me every year – seven podiums and four victories. I knew it would be tough. Our chance was small and we never gave up. We progress a lot since last year and the car has progressed on gravel. We are in a good position now for the next rally in Corsica.”

Dani Sordo has a limited programme of events with the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team this season and held the lead at the end of day one. A puncture cost him valuable time on Saturday, but the Spaniard battled back and was rewarded with second overall when Kris Meeke flipped his C3 WRC on to its side on the first stage of the final morning and lost 45 seconds. Despite a flat tyre on the final stage, Sordo beat Meeke by 15.6 seconds.

Meeke, the winner in México last year, now has two unfortunate incidents to his name on the final morning in as many years. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver was left rueing the hapless error that dropped him to third place after 22 special stages, which were mainly run across the sinuous gravel tracks in the hills around León and Guanajuato.

“I feel a bit stupid to be honest,” said Meeke. “I had the car and the road position to win the rally and I didn’t do the job. I have never been so disappointed with a third place before.”

Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen delivered a consistent performance to claim valuable Manufucturers’ Championship points for fourth overall and claimed one fastest stage time to boot.

Nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb thoroughly enjoyed his return to the WRC and led during the morning loop on Saturday until he made the mistake of stopping to change a punctured tyre rather than risk finishing the stage on the flailing rubber. It was a superb return to the series for the winner of 78 WRC events, nonetheless, and proved that the C3 WRC driver still has the pace to match and beat his younger rivals.  

“It has been great to be back in the WRC on a nice rally like México,” said the six-time event winner. “I enjoyed the new generation of World Rally Car a lot. It was a good moment when we took the lead and a very bad one when we changed the wheel!”

Thierry Neuville’s goal at the start of the week was to leave México with the championship lead. He arrived in León with a 10-point advantage, but fate dictated that he was forced to open the road on all three days and the job of road sweeper was a costly one. The Belgian brought the third Hyundai to the finish in sixth place and slipped behind Ogier in the championship standings.

It was a difficult event for the Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. The three Yaris WRCs struggled for the second year with engine temperature issues, but alternator failure meant that Jari-Matti Latvala could only finish eighth overall and a turbo breakage forced Ott Tänäk to miss most of day three. Esapekka Lappi was sidelined after an accident on Friday and returned to finish outside the top 10. Toyota had the consolation of the first and third quickest times on the Power Stage for Tänäk and Latvala.

Nine of the 11 WRC drivers claimed at least one fastest stage time during the event with Ogier and Tänäk topping the list with five apiece.

Pontus Tidemand began the final morning with a WRC 2 category lead of 5min 42.6sec in his Škoda Fabia R5 and maintained his composure to confirm a second successive victory in México and move to the top of the championship standings. The Swede finished seventh overall and his winning margin over England’s Gus Greensmith was 6min 44.6sec. Greensmith’s performance was rewarded with a ninth-placed finish in the overall rankings.

Tidemand said: “It has been a fantastic rally for us. We had a perfect car and the team did a perfect job. A big thanks to the people who helped me and pushed me.”

Chile’s Pedro Heller and Bolivian rookie Marquito Bulacia completed the top four and Heller rounded off the overall top 10.

Great Britain’s Tom Williams enjoyed his first taste of rallying in México in his WRC 3 Ford Fiesta, while Francisco Name led a depleted Mexican contingent in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10.

Sunday – as it happened

Twenty-four of the original 29 starters in the various categories made it to the start of the final day, where overnight leader Ogier was out to defend a 35.9 second advantage over three short special stages and just 46.46 competitive kilometres. Ott Tänäk restarted with a replaced Toyota turbo and local hero Ricardo Trivino was also back in action after missing the afternoon loop of stages on Saturday.

Neuville opened the road for the third successive morning through the 23.32km Alfaro stage, which was made up of sections of Otates that had already been used over the weekend. With no wind, hanging dust was a problem in some parts, but it didn’t affect Neuville, who admitted that he was conserving his tyres for the Power Stage and posted the target time of 5min 51.2sec.

Latvala pushed hard to snatch eighth overall from Greensmith and his attack was rewarded with a first fastest time, but the drama was unfolding at the front of the field. Sordo drove a good stage to snatch the third quickest in a bid to confirm a podium position and he was gifted second overall when Meeke slid wide into a gully and flipped the C3 WRC on to its side with the loss of 35 seconds.

A furious Meeke said: “I went on to some cobbles and the car slid and there was a deep gully and it caught the wheel and it tipped on its side.”

Ogier, like Mikkelsen and Tänäk, drove cautiously to conserve his tyres for the Power Stage and took an overall lead of 48 seconds to the first of the two runs through the 11.07 Las Minas stage.

The stage surface was particularly loose and slippery for the first cars and Mikkelsen slid wide trying to explore his limits for the Power Stage. Tänäk claimed the fastest time, but Sordo admitted he had eased his pace to conserve second place, as the World Rally Cars used the run as a high-speed recce for the points-scoring opportunity to follow.

Ogier took a 55.2 second advantage into the final special, but it was Tidemand who opened proceedings with a time of 6min 56.7sec. Latvala complained vocally about his potential starting position for the final stage, but it was soon forgotten when the determined Finn laid down the early gauntlet with a potent time of 6min 34.4sec. Mikkelsen was a mere 1.6 seconds short and Sordo sustained a rear-right puncture, but confirmed second overall.

Tänäk snatched the five bonus points for the fastest time of 6min 33.1sec after pipping Ogier by four-tenths of a second. Latvala collected three for third and Neuville had to make do with two points for his time of 6min 34.5sec at the end of another thrilling week in México. Ogier was later handed a 10-second penalty for clipping a chicane and lost vauable Power Stage points.

Rally Guanajuato México 2018 – final positions after SS22:

  1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC 3hrs 54min 08.0sec
  2. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hrs 55min 11.6sec
  3. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën C3 WRC 3hrs 55min 27.2sec
  4. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger-Synnevaag (NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hrs 55min 46.4sec
  5. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC 3hrs 56min 32.6sec
  6. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 4hrs 03min 11.0sec
  7. Pontus Tidemand (SWE)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Škoda Fabia R5 4hrs 04min 32.7sec
  8. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 4hrs 09min 45.1sec
  9. Gus Greensmith (GBR)/Craig Parry (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 4hrs 11min 17.3sec
  10. Pedro Heller (CHL)/Pablo Olmos (ARG) Ford Fiesta R5 4hrs 18min 26.1sec

Rally leaders

SS1 Thierry Neuville

SS2 Kris Meeke

SS3-10 Dani Sordo

SS11-13 Sébastien Loeb

SS14-22 Sébastien Ogier

Stage winners

SS1 Thierry Neuville

SS2 Kris Meeke

SS3 Dani Sordo

SS4 Dani Sordo

SS5 Teemu Suninen

SS6 Kris Meeke

SS7 Sébastien Loeb

SS8 Sébastien Loeb/Ott Tänäk

SS9 Ott Tänäk

SS10 Ott Tänäk/Sébastien Ogier

SS11 Sébastien Loeb

SS12 Kris Meeke

SS13 Sébastien Ogier

SS14 Sébastien Ogier

SS15 Sébastien Ogier

SS16 Sébastien Ogier

SS17 Dani Sordo/Kris Meeke

SS18 Kris Meeke

SS19 Andreas Mikkelsen

SS20 Jari-Matti Latvala

SS21 Ott Tänäk

SS22 Ott Tänäk

Date: Sunday, March 11th

Day: 4 Flash N°: 22

Special stage: Las Minas 2 (Power Stage) Distance: 11.07 km

Weather: Warm, slight breeze and sunny

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“Fantastic. It is a special place for me every year, seven podiums and four victories. I knew it would be

tough. Our chance was small and we never gave up. We progress a lot since last year and the car has

progressed on gravel.

 

M-Sport Ford WRT principal Malcolm Wilson said: “Live TV is so difficult to watch when your driver

is in the lead.. The way he has tackled this rally has been extraordinary. It was an incredible

performance.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“I tried to keep it clean. We have not had the top pace all weekend .I am happy enough. It is important

to take points away.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

Used the regulations to start the stage later than scheduled to improve their starting position. “We have

to get every point we can.We are disappointed. We knew it would be difficult. We will never give up.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

Rear-right puncture. “There was a rock in the middle of the road. It is very easy to puncture a tyre so I

drive carefully. After that I was a little bit nervous.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“First of all thanks for putting me in the position where I belong. I am grateful for that. I had a good

feeling and I could not drive any better. A couple of places maybe, we had a really good run.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

Used the regulations to start the stage later than scheduled to improve their starting position. “Theirry is

still running but I am fastest so far. I tried all I could.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“The narrow road is going well, but the very wide road was not too good. I was too wide in places. I lost

a lot of time.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“I feel a bit stupid to be honest. I had the car and the road position to win the rally. I didn’t do the job. I

have never been so disappointed with a third place before.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It has been great to be back in the WRC on a nice rally like México. I enjoyed the new generation of

World Rally Car a lot. It was a good moment when we took the lead and very bad when we changed the

wheel.

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“It has been a fantastic rally for us. We had a perfect car. The team did a perfect job. A big thanks to the

people who helped me and pushed me. I really enjoyed it. So happy to be here.”

Date: Saturday, March 10th

Day: 3 Flash N°: 16

Special stage: El Brinco 2 Distance: 9.98 km

Weather: Hot and sunny, 31°C

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“It has been a perfect day to be honest. We can be very happy with that. I push as hard as I could. This

one I like a lot. This one was quite slippy. We have a lot of tyre wear.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“I am trying. But still I would like to be faster.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

Rear-left puncture and gearbox oil on the track at the stage finish. “Early in the stage I

started sliding and ran wide and hit a ditch and realised I may have a puncture. That’s when I slowed

down.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I did not do a really big push. I dont have a spare, so I cannot have a puncture here.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“I push maximum now. I cannot go any faster. I gave everything on this stage.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“Of course I lost 30 (last stage), but I am still happy to be in second.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“We have only one spare wheel because we had a puncture, so I didn’t push.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“I really enjoy every day. I thank everyone who has been helping me.”

 

Car 38.   GREENSMITH/PARRY

“Yes it’s been pretty good. I’ve not made any mistakes which is pretty good. We tried some softs this

afternoon, but they are pretty obliterated now. They will probably be ideal for the super special.”

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 8

Special stage: Ortega 2 Distance: 17.23 km

Weather: Cooling, slight breeze and dry

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

M-Sport Ford Rally Team’s Malcolm Wilson has confirmed that Dan Barritt suffered concussion after Elfyn Evans’s crash this morning.

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“Our tyres were a bit better. You have to try when you are in the front. Except for the spin on the last

stage it was a good day. We tried our best.”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

Cannot get his car started after the off in SS7.

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“Yes we try to stay in front of Ogier. We had a clean stage but we were losing time. I am happy

enough.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

“It’s been a tough day. It’s not finished yet. We have a problem with the steering.” He dropped 35

seconds in the stage.

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I think we did enough to conserve the tyres. The traction was good but the lateral grip was nothing. I

expected to be in the fight. We were fast here last year. But Sébastien (Loeb) is coming really fast on

us…”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

Battery warning light fladhing on the dash and Latvala revving the engine frantically. “It could be the

alternator. We have to go quickly.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“It’s not so bad. It’s been tough to manage all this, but I tried my best.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

Lost 12 seconds and slips to fourth place. “The car spun in the road and I had to reverse through the

dust.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

Equal fastest and reduces Sordo’s lead to 7.9 seconds. “It was a good drive. I pushed really hard. It

was a fast stage. I made no mistakes. We had a good tyre choice. It is difficult to push more.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“I have a good car, a good recce and a good co-driver. We need to keep it up like this. It has been

running like a clock, very good.”

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 9/10

Special stage: Autodrómo de León 1/2 Distance: 2.30 km

Weather: Warm and dry

Road conditions: Mixed – gravel, tarmac and water splashes

 

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

“It was a really disappointing day today for me. I drove as well as I could. I did three stages with the

steering issue.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“It was not a perfect day because we make a mistake in the afternoon with the tyres. But I am trying. It’s

been a long day and it is a long rally,”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“It has been a tough day for me. We had some problems with the engine temperature a bit too high.

But, in the Ortega stage on the start line, I got battery low warning. It did not have an impact. I drove the

whole stage with the battery low. Unfortunately, I did a power cycle after the stage and the battery

voltage was low. We lost the alternator and lost the battery in Guanajuato city centre! There might be a

chance for ninth or 10th place.”

 

Car 8.   TANAK/JARVEOJA

“Basically we try to take the best out of what we have. When the car is performing it is strong and we

were going quickly. We have managed to improve for the second loop and we were not losing so

much.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“We made some silly mistakes. Lost five here, lost 10 there and a few in another couple of places. We

could have been right up there with Dani and Seb, but that is life.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It was a very good day for me to get back into the rhythm. We are here. We will see tomorrow. I

enjoyed the day.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“We have done some nice stages. We have a fantastic car and we have a good set-up.”

 

Car 35.   BULACIA/FERNANDO

“We have had a good day on very difficult stages. A serious problem with water temperature meant we

had to slow a little but we are happy. It’s my first WRC event and we had a lot of fun.”

 

Car 38.   GREENSMITH/PARRY

“The gap is big to Pontus ahead, but it’s not so bad when you’re driving in the middle of the road. Today

has been a good drive. No mistakes.”

 

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 -WRC Mexico (MEX) – WRC 08/03/2018 to 11/03/2018 – PHOTO : @World

LEÓN (México): Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team’s Dani Sordo and Carlos Del Barrio held on to a slender lead of just 7.2 seconds after the opening full day of the 15th Rally Guanajuato México.

The Spanish duo led from the third stage, won two of the day’s nine timed tests and managed their i20 WRC’s tyre wear well over the abrasive gravel tracks on the mountain roads around León and Guanajuato.

The drive of the day undoubtedly came from the nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb. The Frenchman belied his three years away from the WRC to record two stage wins and apply late pressure on Sordo for the top place on the podium. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver led third-placed Toyota GAZOO Racing team’s Ott Tänäk by 3.8 seconds.

Sordo said: “I expected to be in the fight. We were quick here last year. But Sébastien (Loeb) is coming at us really fast.”

Last year’s event winner Kris Meeke led after the first stage of the day and won two stages, but a couple of costly spins on the afternoon loop dropped the Ulsterman to fourth in the second of the C3 WRCs.

There was a tense tussle between Sébastien Ogier, the defending World Champion, and Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen. The Frenchman overcame his running order handicap to hold fifth at the end of the day by just 1.5 seconds.

Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala was seventh in the second Toyota Yaris until the alternator failed in Guanajuato city centre on the Finn’s journey back from the last of the day’s gravel stages. He had driven the entire Ortega stage with a battery warning light on.

Running first on the road was a miserable experience for current WRC leader Thierry Neuville. A fuel pressure problem and steering issues compounded the Belgian’s woes and he reached the overnight halt in seventh place, trailing leader Sordo by 2min 01.9sec.

Pontus Tidemand dominated the WRC2 category in his Škoda and reached the night halt in eighth overall, a comfortbale 3min 38.3sec in front of Ford’s Gus Greensmith, after Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä retired early on and Jari Huttunen suffered radiator damage.

 

Tidemand said: “We have a good car, we did a good recce and I have a good co-driver. We need to keep it up like this. It has been running like a clock, very good.”

 

México’s Ricardo Trivino, Ricardo Cordero and Francisco Name headed to the last two stages of the day in an unofficial 12th, 13th and 14th overall in the combined unofficial classification behind WRC2’s 10th-placed Pedro Heller and WRC rookie Marquito Bulacia in 11th.

 

Friday – as it happened

 

Series leader Neuville headed out of morning service to the 26.05km of the Duarte-Derramadero stage, the first gravel special of the WRC season. The later morning start meant that the temperature was already into the low twenties when the Belgian began the timed test ahead of 28 rivals. He lost vital seconds cleaning the stage surface and carded a time of 17min 27.6sec. The disadvantage of his starting position was soon clearly apparent and the Hyundai driver began to tumble behind his rivals. Meeke claimed the stage win and snatched the outright rally lead by 3.8 seconds from a flying Sordo.

 

The third El Chocolate stage ran for 31.44km and was the test that several of the drivers had flagged as being the toughest of the entire event. Loeb had not tackled the longest stage of this year’s rally in this format before either.

 

The drive of the morning came from Sordo and the Spaniard carded a sensational time of 24min 05.6sec to snatch the outright lead from Meeke by 9.5 seconds. Evans held third and Loeb climbed to an impressive fourth on his WRC return. Latvala and Lappi both complained of engine overheating issues in the Yaris WRCs – even though Toyota engineers had a ‘road mode’ system in place to prevent serious issues – and Neuville continued to drop time acting as the road sweeper from first on the road.

 

Škoda Motorsport’s young Finn Kalle Rovanperä was forced to retire from the WRC2 battle with a damaged radiator after he clouted a rock after a jump on stage two. Tidemand led overnight and the Swede extended that lead to 1min 24.4sec over Greensmith after the third stage. Jari Huttunen was third.

The fourth Ortega special climbed to more than 2,700 metres above sea level and marked the highest point of the entire WRC season. Sordo continued his blistering pace with a second fastest time and headed to the street stage in León with a 15.1-second lead over Meeke. Loeb maintained his impressive return with the second fastest time and held third, but a sixth-gear accident cost Elfyn Evans over two and a half minutes and he plummeted to 12th.

 

The Welshman said: “Sixth gear, we hit a bad bump and the car flew in the air. We tried to gather it, but we had no power and the back end came round and flipped us over quite a few times.”

 

Tidemand was comfortably in control in WRC2 and taking no risks. He extended his advantage over Greensmith to 2min 13.9sec, but a spin and an earlier flat tyre cost Huttunen further time and the Finn was already 2min 22.5sec adrift in third.

 

Neuville completed the street stage with a door flapping open and complaining of engine issues. The Belgian suffered the catastrophic loss of 25 seconds in just 1.11km with a loss of fuel pressure, as Lappi stalled, Meeke clouted a couple of potted trees and Suninen clocked the fastest time.

 

An upbeat Sordo reached service with a lead of 16.6 seconds and admitted that the afternoon’s tyre choice in the heat would be critical. Evans retired from the leg and co-driver Dan Barritt was taken to hospital suffering from suspected concussion.

 

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team principal Malcolm Wilson said: “The guys can definitely fix the car but, sadly, we won’t be able to continue with Dan’s situation. We will use the time to repair the car. After that, a lot depends on the outcome with Dan. We’ll see what the hospital says.” The team later comfirmed that Evans would not restart on Saturday after his co-driver’s diagnosis was confirmed.

 

In baking sun and with a slightly better stage surface, Neuville attacked in the re-run of Duarte-Derramadero and shaved 18 seconds off his first stage time, but he still ceded seconds to his rivals on a stage where Meeke was quickest and trimmed Sordo’s lead to 12.3 seconds. The Toyota trio still complained about a lack of power when the engine temperatures climbed, Loeb survived a slight overshoot and Suninen dropped two and a half minutes after sliding wide and clouting the left-rear of his Ford Fiesta. Loeb’s indescretion handed fourth place to Tänäk.

 

Tyre wear would be critical for those running soft compounds on the second pass through El Chocolate. Sordo drove cautiously to conserve his soft tyres, but a spin for Meeke helped the Spaniard preserve a lead of 14.9 seconds and Meeke slipped to third after Loeb drove superbly to record his first WRC stage win since the 2015 Monte-Carlo Rally.

 

Only eight World Rally Cars were still running when Lappi left the road after 14.1km and Suninen clouted an armco 1.5km further into the special and was sidelined.

 

Tidemand began the second loop 2min 15.8sec ahead of Greensmith in WRC2 and completed El Chocolate 3min 14.7sec in front of the Briton. Huttunen succumbed to radiator issues in SS6 and returned to León. Heller and Bulacia moved up to third and fourth.

 

Neuville lost another 35 seconds and complained of a steering issue at the end of Ortega, but a costly spin for Meeke gifted third place to Tänäk, as Sordo defended his outright lead over Loeb and took an advantage of 7.9 seconds to the two remaining stages in darkness at the León Autodrome. Tänäk and Loeb tied for the fastest time.

 

Tänäk clocked the outright quickest time in SS9 and shared the honours with Ogier in SS10 but Sordo retained the overall advantage to take into the night halt.

 

Tomorrow

Crews will tackle a further nine special stages and 140.35km of competition on Saturday. The first of two runs through the 30.97km of Guanajuatito gets the action underway and precedes Otates (26.37km) and El Brinco (9.98km).

The three gravel sections are repeated after the lunchtime return to the Campus Service Park. The third and fourth stages at the León Autodrome and a second blast along the street stage in the city bring the day’s action to a close.

Rally Guanajuato México 2018 – positions after SS10:

  1. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1hr 47min 55.4sec
  2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC 1hr 48min 02.6sec
  3. Ott Tänäk (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC 1hr 48min 06.4sec
  4. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën C3 WRC 1hr 48min 20.4sec
  5. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC 1hr 48min 25.6sec
  6. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger-Synnevaag (NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC1hr 48min 27.1sec
  7. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1hr 49min 57.3sec
  8. Pontus Tidemand (SWE)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Škoda Fabia R5 1hr 53min 01.0sec
  9. Gus Greensmith (GBR)/Craig Parry (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 1hr 56min 39.3sec
  10. Pedro Heller (CHL)/Pablo Olmos (ARG) Ford Fiesta R5 2hrs 00min 29.2sec
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 -WRC Mexico (MEX) – WRC 08/03/2018 to 11/03/2018 – PHOTO : @World

‘Meet the Crews’ –  after SS10

Friday, March 9th 2018

 

Present:

Michel Nandan – Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

Pierre Budar – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

Kai Lindström – Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team

Malcolm Wilson – M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

 

1st Dani Sordo – Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

2nd Sébastien Loeb – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

3rd Ott Tänäk – Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team

 

Q:

Michel, what a day it has been for Dani Sordo.You must be delighted with his progress?

 

MN:

Yes, of course, we are really pleased with the performance of Dani. We know he had a very good road position, He managed not to do any mistakes and managed to set some best times. Maybe he did a small mistake with the tyre choice on the second loop but he managed to keep his position.

 

Q:

It is a very nostalgic position for Dani to be leading. Can he hold on?

 

MN:

There is only a small gap between Dani and Seb, but there is also not many seconds between second and third place and even fourth place. It will be a big battle tomorrow.

 

Q:

Pierre, everyone was curious to see what would happen when a nine-time WRC champion returned to the WRC. Seb (Loeb) didn’t disappoint, did he?

 

PB:

I think everybody has been a bit surprised and maybe even Seb himself. Of course, we expect him to be in the good rhythm but we did not know when he would be as fast as his friends. Even when you look at his face when he discover that he had set a fastest time, he xas very suprised also.

 

Q:

What more can we expect from him?

 

PB:

Okay, I think it would be fantastic if he could manage to do it. Everything is possible with Seb, you know!

 

Q:

Kai, talk to me about Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi today. We don’t see either here at the end of the day. What happened?

 

KL:

It was disappointing for Jari-Matti. He finished stage eight and discovered that there was something wrong with the alternator and he was forced to stop in Guanajuato, so he is in Rally2 tomorrow. He was doing very well. EP went off. Not very many people noticed that, not even the TV. They showed Ott’s car with EP’s name on it. It was just off-road and he landed on the right-hand side of the car. We found out 30 minutes ago because there was no ‘phone signal and the satellite was flat. But the car looks okay and they can continue.

 

Q:

Ott holds third place on the podium. It was a strong day for him.

 

KL:

I think he was quite clever today in the tricky conditions. I would say tomorrow the conditions are more equal and I would say he will be fast. Let’s see what happens.

 

Q:

Malcolm, Seb Ogier first. Second on the road. He did a great job. What have you thought today?

 

MW:

Thre is no question that his performance from his road position has been fantastic. But to think that he will be starting fourth car on the road tomorrow is pretty frustrating by the fact that we had no retirements in Sweden and we’ve had them today. Every position we have seen today is an improvement He will be pushing hard tomorrow. It’s quite a small gap to Kris Meeke. We will see what happens.

 

Q:

What is the update on Elfyn and Dan after the accident today?

 

MW:

Elfyn is the first guy to roll the Fiesta WRC. Unfortunately, Dan suffered quite a bit in the accident. He’s been to hospital. Hes got concussion and that means he cannot continue tomorrow. Considering the speed of the crash, the smal amount of damage to the car is remarkable. Hopefull he will be 100% fit for Corsica.

 

Q:

Dani, you are leading the rally at the end of day two. How are you feeling?

 

DS:

The feeling is incredible. The start position was a little bit better than the others but I pushed a lot. I had a bit of an advantage in the morning. The afternoon was a bit more difficult with the tyres. I will continue tomorrow.  

 

Q:

It must be quite nostalgic having Seb chasing you down?

 

DS:

Yes, it is nice to see him back, but he is back too quickly…! This is rally and this is compettion.  It is always welcome. I will try to do my best and enjoy the stages. I want to win but everyone wants to win. It will be a nice fight.

 

Q:

Sébastien, back in the championship and here you are in second position fighting for the lead. Did you ever imagine that?

 

SL:

I was dreaming about it. I did not know what to expect when I came back or whether I would find the feeling like these guys. You need to feel like one with you and the car and I did not know whether I could get it back after six years. It was a lot of questions to myself. The rhythm was good and the feeling with the car was there from the start of the day. One little mistake, but not much. It’s great to be here in second position.

 

Q:

What did you feel like when Daniel told you that you had the fastest stage time?

 

SL:

It was not Daniel because there was no board. It was the guy who was doing the interview who told me. It was a great surprise because on the first pass of El Chocolate it was not really good. It ws a new stage for me and I had to understand the things quickly. To have my first fastest time of the rally on a stage I did not know was a great surprise and I was very happy.  

 

I try my best all the time and will continue like this. Dani is seven seconds ahead and Ott is not far behind. Some other drivers are not too far either. I had a good road position. Tomorrow is another day and I will try to fight.

 

Q:

Ott, it has been a strong day for you with third position, Are you happy?

 

OT:

Yes, I am happy to be here. It was a tough day and we had quite a few issues with the heat and the engine. It was a bit of a struggle but we managed quite well. The engineers managed to improve it a bit and the second loop was easier to drive.

 

Q:

Ott, you want to fight for the win here. Is there more of an incentive to be hunting down a nine-time World Champion.

 

OT:

Defintely, we are quite keen to hunt him down, but I take my hat off to him now. He has done an incredible job today and has been very fast. Tomorrow is another day. We are close on the road and it will be a big fight.

 

Q:

We noticed a huge Estonian flag in the crowd today. They have even travelled to Mexico to support you.

 

OT:

It is far from home and it is nice to see local people around here. I guess it’s minus 10 or minus 20 in Estonia and plus 30 here, so it’s nice to enjoy some sunshine. But it’s nice to see some Estonian flags.

Date: Saturday, March 10th

Day: 3 Flash N°: 4

Service: D (Rally Campus Service Park)

 

 

Of the 29 starters in the various categories, only Evans/Barritt (Car 2) had officially retired from

the event at the start of day three.

 

Suninen (Car 3), Lappi (Car 9) and Latvala (Car 7) all restarted amongst the World Rally Cars and

WRC2 runners Huttunen (Car 32), Rovanperä (Car 33) and Solans (Car 36) all retured in Rally2.

 

Tom Williams (Car 61) had slipped under the radar on day 2 and held 25th overall on his Mexican debut

and topped the WRC3 rankings.

Date: Saturday, March 10th

Day: 3 Flash N°: 11

Special stage: Guanajuatito 1 Distance: 30.97 km

Weather: Warm and sunny

Road conditions: Dry and dusty

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“I try my best. The position is a bit better today and there is more grip. It is going to be hard. It is still

cleaning a bit. It will be hard to fight with Seb, Ott and Dani, but Kris, yes.”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

“Not much better. I could not find the rhythm. It does not feel good.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“There was one pace note. It was really fast and I thought it was really slow on a straight. Not the best

rhythm for me. We will definitely have to do better.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

Stopped for around 50 seconds after a water splash in the stage. He continued to lose time as the

stage progressed. TV also reported an overshoot. “Probably the radiator block did not work. It took

more than a minute to start the engine again and then we had a slow puncture for the last seven

kilometres.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

Loses rally lead to Loeb. “Good for him. I was not comfy and the car was moving a lot. Brake problems.

I don’t like this stage. Slow and very slippery.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“Yes we had problem with the dust (behind Thierry). I was thinking what is the problem. I was thinking

where did it come from with three minute intervals, That explains it.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

Road speed through the stage with tape hanging off the roof of the car. He drops over 2min 50sec

to Ogier. “I dont know. We have 20 horse power maybe…”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“It feels okay to be honest. Everything is fine. Thanks to the team for putting the car together.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“I tried to be really neat and tidy. Maybe I was not aggressive enough. It is going to clean a lot. It’s going

to get quicker and quicker.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“I did not lose any time. I caught some dust at the end but I did not slow down. I tried to wake up early

because the rhythm you have in the first stage is important. I push hard and have a good feeling with

the car.

Date: Saturday, March 10th

Day: 3 Flash N°: 12

Special stage: Otates 1 Distance: 26.37 km

Weather: Warm and sunny

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“I tried to push. It is still very slippery. I cannot do more. I am on the limit.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“That stage was a little bit twistier and narrower but I had a better rhythm in there.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“For me it was good. I had a good feeling for the car but the time is not so good.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“I struggled in there. There was a lot of loose gravel and it was difficult to get traction. I was in the

higher gears and I think that was a mistake.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

Toyota have confirmed that the Estonian has retired from the event on the road section after

Guanajuatito following the engine issues that caused him to lose power in SS11.

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

Right-front splitter damage in stage. “Very slippery and I am feeling the tyres don’t have any traction at

all. The wheels are spinning and spinning. I dont know what’s wrong to be honest. There is a clean line.

I dont know…”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“It was slow in there, corner after corner, and very technical. Maximum concentration was needed in

there.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“Kris did a good time and Ogier also. It was not so good at the end. There was no issue but it was tricky

and very narrow. It was not enough.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“It was okay. We found an okay rhythm. That is always the question. We just need to find a balance.”

 

Car 38.   GREENSMITH/PARRY

“It was good. We had a puncture on the first stage this morning, so we have been keeping it tidy today.

It’s a bit soul-destroying because you want to go a bit.”

 

Car 39.   HELLER/OLMOS

“Very slippery and tricky. We are having fun and losing time. We are not efficient. We are going really

sideways and losing time.”

Date: Saturday, March 10th

Day: 3 Flash N°: 13

Special stage: El Brinco 1 Distance: 9.98 km

Weather: Warm and sunny

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

Starter motor issue confirmed before the stage and he did not want the engine to stall. “We have

no starter motor but that is okay. We just need to reach service now. The start was bad. I was scared to

stall. It’s very loose on this one. But it is a beautiful profile. I am looking forward to the afternoon.”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

“I am too cautious. I should use the grip more in the high-speed corner…”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“Clean stage to be honest. I don’t know why we are not on the pace.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

“We know it was going to be difficult this weekend. We had problems with the positions. It has been

frustrating for us. Now we are far back. It is part of the game.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I was happy with this stage. The balance of the car was good. We were struggling with the traction on

the slower stages this morning. I enjoy a lot this stage. It was a bit dusty in the car.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“It is better than yesterday. Here it is loose gravel underneath. In the afternoon, for me, it could be a

mixed package of tyres.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“Everything was fine. It seems the times were bad. I thought I did a good stage. Whatever!”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“I made a couple of mistakes in there on the braking. The car stalled on me and then I ran wide on a

corner. It was a bit sloppy to be honest. Let’s see for the afternoon.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It’s a good surprise to be leading. I am happy to be in a fight like this. The others are fast now. I lost on

the last two stages. We will see in the afternoon.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“We were careful on the first one and we have found a good rhythm. The car is working well. We hope

to keep going like this.”

 

Car 32.   HUTTUNEN/LINNAKETO

“It is not so easy. We have a temperature problem.”

 

Car 38.   GREENSMITH/PARRY

“The plan for this rally was to come here and get some experience. We are in the top 10 and need to

play it calm now to conserve our position.”

Date: Saturday, March 10th

Day: 3 Flash N°: 5

Service: E (Rally Campus Service Park)

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“We have still been trying to push. We had a bit more line in front. We managed to catch a couple of

seconds. It is hard to catch the time we lost yesterday. The most important is to try and beat Kris. The

other guys in front are not doing the full championship.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

“I can take it a bit more relaxed today. Our goal was to leave México with the lead in the championship

and at the moment it is all fine. We have to stay calm and watch it from behind.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“Basically it was looking good. The stages had more grip than yesterday. I felt comfortable from the

start. I had one missed junction and lost some time there. I was feeling good. Seven kilometres from

the end we lost all the drive and the turbo had failed. That’s the way it is. We were able to be

competitive on my first event with the team on gravel. We had issues yesterday and still managed to be

close to the first place, so there are some positives.”

 

Car 33.   ROVANPERÄ/HALTTUNEN

“This morning has been okay. We have been careful. The times have been quite okay. We are learning

that is the main thing after what happened yesterday.”

 

Car 35.   BULACIA/FERNANDO

Stopped on the stage before service to allow Rovanperä to pass. Rear-left suspension damage.

“Something broke in the rear left..”

Date: Saturday, March 10th

Day: 3 Flash N°: 14

Special stage: Guanajuatito 2 Distance: 30.97 km

Weather: Warm and sunny (2300 metres at stage finish)

Road conditions: Dry and dusty

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

Second successive fastest time and leads for the first time. “Of course pushing hard. Someone hit a

dog in front unfortunately. I missed another dog to save my marriage and nearly went off a couple of

times.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“Not the position we want to be in. There is not much we can do. We tried to go soft on the rears and it

helped. I am not in the position I want to be to be honest. We just have to figure it out.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

Slid wide early in the stage on a left-hander and swiped a bank. “The car is working fine. The rear is

sliding a lot. I was not pushing hard. I was surprised a bit by the rear.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

Finishes the stage with a front puncture. “At the beginning of the stage there was a small stone. The

tyre broke and delaminated near the end.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“The target is to catch the next car (Greensmith in 8th).”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

Started the stage very late after a technical issue involving a seat belt in the car that was restricted and

not the fault of the crew or the team.

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“I could not do much in there. I tried everything.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

Stopped to change a front-left puncture 21.5km into the stage and lost over two minutes. He finished

the stage with the loss of 2min 23sec and slipped to fifth place. “I dont know. I had a stone on the line. I

didn’t think I would have a problem. I had one.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“Very nice stage. I really enjoy it.”

 

Car 38.   GREENSMITH/PARRY

“It was not too bad. I was hoping it would be a little bit rougher.”

The stage started 20 minutes late because of heavy traffic on the road section.

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“It is a slippery one. I tried to push. It’s a difficult one, a lot of sandy sections. It’s not easy to be perfect

on this one.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“It was a clean stage. Trying to set up the car a bit more before the corners and trying to change the

driving style a bit. We will see.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

Swiped a bank on a second successive stage and lost around 10 seconds. “I used a different diff setting

and it suddenly locked the wheels and we hit the bank. I’ve now changed the map back because it

wasn’t working.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I take no risks because I have only one spare. I was very slow.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“Everything is okay. It was a bit on the limit with the temperatures.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“I had a spin. I had to go back through the dust and lost 30 seconds. The fight for the win is over, for

sure, Simple little stupid mistakes this weekend.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It was okay. No problem, I did not take any risks. I have no spare wheel any more. I drove carefully.

Nothing more to do.”

 

Car 81.   TRIVIŇO/MARTI

The Mexican did not start the second loop of stages.

Date: Saturday, March 10th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 17/18

Special stage: Autodrómo de León 3/4 Distance: 2.30 km

Weather: Warm and sunny

Road conditions: Mixed

 

 

The first Seb shoot-out ended in a 1-1 draw. Loeb won SS17 with a time of 1min 38.1sec and Ogier equalised in SS18 with a faster time of 1min 37.2sec.

 

Meeke and Sordo are fighting for second overall and tied with the outright fastest time of 1min 38sec in SS17. Meeke extended his lead over the Spaniard to 7.7 seconds with the outright fastest time of 1min 36.6sec in SS18.

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“I have to take care of my position (fourth) tomorrow.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“After the puncture it was over. I should have been in a better position. I don’t want to push too much

because I have a podium position.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“We are in really nice position. Too many mistakes. We have a job to do tomorrow.”

 

Car 39.   HELLER/OLMOS

Speaking before the stage: “We are thinking about the points and the place and just having fun.”

M-SPORT FORD’S SÉBASTIEN OGIER SURGES AHEAD IN RALLY GUANAJUATO MÉXICO

 

 

LEÓN (México): M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier snatched the outright lead in dramatic circumstances in Rally Guanajuato México on the Guanajuatito stage and held that advantage to the end of the day to take an outright advantage of 35.9 seconds into the final morning.

 

The defending five-time World Champion won four successive gravel special stages and stands on the verge of a fourth victory in México and his first with a Ford Fiesta WRC. If he is successful on Sunday, it will mark the Blue Oval’s first win here since Estonian Markko Martin won on the event’s debut in the WRC back in 2004 at the wheel of a Ford Focus WRC 03.

 

Ogier said: “It has been a perfect day to be honest. We can be very happy with that. I pushed as hard as I could.”

 

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Malcolm Wilson added: I think the word extraordinary puts into perspective what Seb has actually been this afternoon. I could sense a glint in his eye at lunchtime that he was really going to go out there and try and attack. He did and has the lead. It was an incredible afternoon. It was just Sébastien at his best.”

 

Nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb led after the morning’s loop of three gravel stages on the varied tracks in the hilly areas around León and Guanajuato, but the Frenchman picked up a surprise puncture on the racing line and was forced to stop and change the wheel in SS14. The delay cost the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver well over two minutes and he slipped to fifth, a position he held at the overnight halt.

 

Dani Sordo of the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team had been the overnight leader, before ceding that advantage to Loeb in the first stage of the day, and the Spaniard also collected a front puncture in the decisive 14th stage. He drove to the finish on the flailing rubber and fell behind Loeb’s team-mate Kris Meeke and into third place. The pair were separated by just 10.9 seconds at the end of the day in the frantic battle for second place.

 

Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen was the main beneficiary of Loeb’s woes and the Norwegian held a comfortable fourth at the night halt.  His championship-leading team-mate Thierry Neuville lost further time because of his road position and was classified in sixth, but it could have been a lot worse for the Belgian after two adverse starting positions and more than one collision with banking on the stages.

 

Pontus Tidemand has completely dominated the WRC 2 category in his Škoda Fabia R5 and the Swede reached the night halt a staggering 5min 42.6sec ahead of Ford’s Gus Greensmith, who continues to be pressurised for his eighth place by a determined Finn Jari-Matti Latvala, who restarted under Rally2 after alternator issues on Friday. Latvala was just 52.8 seconds behind at the end of the day.

 

México’s Ricardo Trivino failed to start the second loop of Saturday’s timed tests and that opened the door for Francisco Name to fly the local flag in 15th overall before the last two stages.

 

Chile’s Pedro Heller and Bolivian rookie Marquito Bulacia held third and fourth in WRC 2 after SS18, while Great Britain’s Tom Williams was still running well on his Mexican debut near the rear of the field in the sole WRC 3 Ford Fiesta.

 

Saturday – as it happened

 

Only Elfyn Evans missed out on the third leg, as a disgruntled Neuville suffered the ignominy of opening the road for the second day. To compound matters for the WRC leader, he stopped for around 50 seconds after a watersplash in the opening 30.97km Guanajuatito stage and then ceded further time with a slow puncture en route to a stage time of 22min 39.3sec.

 

There was more drama to come: Ott Tänäk completed the special at a snail’s pace, complained that he only had around 20 horse power from the Yaris’s engine and tumbled from third to sixth position with the loss of 2min 50sec. Ogier moved to within 1.1 seconds of fourth-placed Meeke and appeared to have won the stage until a flying Loeb delivered a brutal sucker punch to Sordo with a stage time of 20min 35.6sec that gave him an outright lead of 5.1 seconds on a dramatic opening stage. Tidemand extended his WRC 2 lead over Greensmith to 3min 49.9sec.

 

The 26.37km of Otates followed a refuelling stop, but Tänäk’s engine woes forced the Estonian out of the rally on the road section and his demise promoted Neuville to sixth place. Meeke attacked on the twisty and technical special and the fastest time moved the Ulsterman to within 15.6 seconds of leader Loeb, who extended his advantage over Sordo to six seconds.

 

Tänäk said: “It was looking good. I felt comfortable from the start. Seven kilometres from the end of the stage we lost all the drive and the turbo had failed. That’s the way it is. I guess we were able to be competitive on my first event with the team on gravel. We had issues yesterday and still managed to be close to the first place, so there are some positives.”

 

The El Brinco test acted as the final Power Stage in 2017 and will go down in WRC folklore as the special where Meeke visited a spectator car park on his way to victory. Ogier attacked on the fast tracks and the quickest time moved him into an exact tie with Meeke for third place. Sordo was also on the offensive and the Spaniard reduced Loeb’s lead to just 2.9 seconds before the lunch halt.

 

A composed Tidemand reached the midday service with a massive lead of 4min 18sec over Greensmith in WRC2. Heller was third, but Bulacia lost further time in El Brinco with suspension damage.

 

Guanajuatito was re-run in the heat of the afternoon and the abrasive gravel turned the rally leader board on its head. Loeb stopped to change a front puncture and the delay cost him 2min 23sec to a flying stage winner Ogier. Sordo also collected a flat tyre after striking a small stone and the tyre began to fall apart towards the end of the stage. As Loeb fell behiind Mikkelsen and into fifth place, Sordo slipped to third and Ogier inherited a 3.8-second advantage over Meeke.

 

Ogier was again quickest through Otates 2 and, when Meeke spun and had to drive back through his own dust with the loss of 30 seconds, the Ulsterman conceded that the battle for the win was over. He trailed Ogier by 34.5 seconds and held a reduced advantage over Sordo of 7.3 seconds, after both Sordo and Loeb eased their pace to finish the special without a spare tyre in the car.

 

The faster tracks of El Brinco preceded two further special stages at the León Autodrome. Temperatures were hovering around 30°C. Ogier has always run well on this stage and the Frenchman extended his overall lead to 37.1 seconds with a fourth successive fastest time. Meeke retained second after beating a cautious Sordo by a mere one tenth of a second.

 

Tidemand’s WRC 2 stroll continued and his lead over Greensmith grew to 5min 36.9sec, although the Briton had been testing soft compound tyres on the afternoon’s loop of stages.

 

A large crowd gathered for the two stages at the Autodrome, where Loeb faced off against Ogier and the French duo shared a personal win apiece. The battle between Meeke and Sordo for second overall saw them share the outright fastest time in SS17 and the Ulsterman was three-tenths quicker in SS18 to increase his advantage to 7.7 seconds.

 

Ogier headed for service and on to the last León street stage with a lead of 35.2 seconds and the second fastest time ensured he remained comfortable at the end of the day. Mikkelsen claimed his first stage win but Sordo stalled on the startline and dropped a further 3.2 seconds to Meeke.

 

Tomorrow

 

Crews will tackle just three stages on the final morning and a mere 46.46km of competition. Action starts with the 24.32km of Alfaro and a double run through the television Las Minas special brings the action to a close. The test only runs for 11.07km and the second pass acts as the event’s Power Stage with five valuable championship points available to the winner.

 

Rally Guanajuato México 2018 – positions after SS19:

  1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC 3hrs 25min 03.1sec
  2. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën C3 WRC 3hrs 25min 39.0sec
  3. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hrs 25min 49.9sec
  4. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger-Synnevaag (NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hrs 26min 31.5sec
  5. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC 3hrs 27min 22.8sec
  6. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hrs 29min 47.7sec
  7. Pontus Tidemand (SWE)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Škoda Fabia R5 3hrs 34min 27.3sec
  8. Gus Greensmith (GBR)/Craig Parry (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 3hrs 40min 09.9sec
  9. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 3hrs 41min 02.7sec

 

Ends

For further media information:
Rally Guanajuato México 2018, Media Centre, Expo-Feria Building, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, México, E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]Tel: + 52 (477) 771-2986.

 

www.wrc.com

www.rallymexico.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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De: Neil Perkins [mailto:[email protected]] Enviado el: sábado, 10 de marzo de 2018 09:33 p. m.
Para: undisclosed-recipients:
Asunto: Rally Mexico – Saturday

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‘Meet the Crews’ –  after SS10

Saturday, March 10th 2018

 

Present:

Malcolm Wilson – M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Pierre Budar – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

Michel Nandan – Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

Tommi Mäkinen – Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team

 

1st Sébastien Ogier – M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

2nd Dani Sordo – Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

3rd Kris Meeke – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

 

Q:

Malcolm, you told us yesterday what a tough day it had been. How things have turned around and now you are in the lead after an extraordinary display by Sébastien Ogier. How are you feeling at the end of the day?

 

MW:

I think you can imagine  how I feel. I think the word extraordinary puts into perspective what Seb has actually been this afternoon. I could sense at lunchtime a glint in his eye that he was really going to go out there and try and attack and try and get those 16 seconds. He did and he has ended up with this lead. It was an incredible afternoon. Nothing more to say. It’s just Sébastien at his best.

 

Q:

He has a good lead now.You can never say comfortable at any rally but, with the kilometres that are remaining, do you have any concerns?

 

MW:

I have no concerns about Seb. But, like everyone else here, we all know that something mechanical can happen. The important thing for us is that we need to give him a car that is 100% reliable to do the things which we know he can do. The pressure is on us as a team to give him the car to finish the job off.

 

Q:

Pierre, Sébastien Loeb got into the lead today. But a rock on the line delaminated the tyre and he lost over two minutes. He told us he was in his Dakar mindset and should have driven to the end of the stage and he would not have lost so much time. How disappointing has it been?

 

PB:

Of course it has been disappointing. Maybe he did lose some time on the decision he took. The decision was made. Now it’s gone. I think he is really disappointed himself. This is the race.

 

Q:

Seeing Loeb’s performance must give the team big confidence for Corsica?

 

PB:

Yes, of course, we are quite happy to see that. At least he can say that Seb was in the fight. That is very good.

 

Q:

Kris is still in second place and there is still a big battle out there. That will be exciting…

 

PB:

Of course, we have to take care of Dani. He is not very far behind. It will be more difficult to follow Seb Ogier, so the target is to take care of Dani.

 

Q:

Michel, highs and lows. In the lead with Dani Sordo yesterday and he also hit a rock today?

 

MN:

I dont think it was the same rock (as Loeb). It was just after the start of the stage. He decided not to take risks after that and that was the right decision. He is not too far from Kris.

 

Q:

So what is the plan for Dani tomorrow? There are only seven seconds between him and Kris.

 

MN:

I think we need to think about the points and Thierry (Neuville) also. We will see what is coming tomorrow.

 

Q:

Tommi, Ott (Tanak) was in a podium position yesterday. But he seems to have spent most of today in the pool. Tell us what happened?

 

MW:

He did a good consistent job for us yesterday and was confident that it would continue today. He lost some time before and then around seven kilometres from the end of the first stage the turbo was broken and the dream was destroyed.

 

Q:

Have you been impressed with his start to the season?

 

TM:

Yes, very much. He has done incredible work. We have to do a lot of work now for next year here. Finally, we understand how tough it is. All these little difficulties we have reached, now we have to keep working harder and harder. Of course, for the next rally, we will have some experience from Monte-Carlo.

 

Q:

Sébastien, what a day it has been for you out there. Today you really had a scent for victory. How are you feeling?

 

SO:

I feel great. This is the place I always want to be, sitting here and answering your question. I am very happy. Yesterday was not a bad day at all, but it was difficult to see that with the time sheet because starting second was a hard job. This afternoon we make the biggest difference. We wanted to push and we wanted to try. We knew it would be difficult to catch Seb and Dani but, at the end, it worked. The times were good and that was it.

 

Q:

We could see from the television coverage that you were really pushing hard out there. Were you on the limit today?

 

SO:

Pretty much all the time, but the feeling was good in the car. It was not always perfect. We all made a couple of small mistakes. This morning I did very few. I was very happy this morning. In the afternoon, with the hard tyres, I had a spin on the sandy section. It was very slippery. It was difficult to be perfectly clean all the time. Anyway, it was better than the others. It was not an easy loop. It was very hot in the car, for the engine and the brakes. It was a very demanding day, but it worked well.

 

Q:

Kris, another tough day out there. Second place and Dani not too far behind. It makes it quite exciting for tomorrow?

 

KM:

We still have a job to do tomorrow. My rhythm was good today and I enjoyed driving. The morning was quite nice for me, but Seb (Ogier) just had more pace than me in the afternoon. Even on 31km, he took 3.8 seconds and I couldn’t think where I could have driven better. He did a better job than me this afternoon. The roads here are so narrow and I lost 30 seconds with that one mistake.

 

Q:

Kris, every driver needs a confidence boost before he starts the day. We know you were chatting to your family back home in the UK this morning. People who follow you on Instagram will have seen your daughters wearing Dani Sordo T-shirts! They are big fans of Dani. (Ogier looks at the photo and jokes that his mother used to support ‘poor Jari-Matti’). What did you think when you saw that?

 

KM:

I am sure there are a lot of girls around the world wearing Dani Sordo T-shirts!! Dani lives quite close to me back home, but I think I will have to have a word. I can’t have my kids supporting Dani Sordo…We will have to get some proper T-shirts made when we beat him tomorrow…..!

 

Q:

Dani, last night you were sitting in the middle chair and leading the rally. Tell us about your third day?

 

DS:

The speed of Sébastien (Ogier) was very high and we had a puncture and lost a little bit of time. We are close to Kris now and will try something to try and catch him.

 

Q:

How much do yoiu want to risk of what you have already?

 

DS:

We will see. I will try, but I want to take a podium here.

 

M-SPORT FORD’S SÉBASTIEN OGIER SURGES AHEAD IN RALLY GUANAJUATO MÉXICO

LEÓN (México): M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier snatched the outright lead in dramatic circumstances in Rally Guanajuato México on the Guanajuatito stage and held that advantage to the end of the day to take an outright advantage of 35.9 seconds into the final morning.

The defending five-time World Champion won four successive gravel special stages and stands on the verge of a fourth victory in México and his first with a Ford Fiesta WRC. If he is successful on Sunday, it will mark the Blue Oval’s first win here since Estonian Markko Martin won on the event’s debut in the WRC back in 2004 at the wheel of a Ford Focus WRC 03.

Ogier said: “It has been a perfect day to be honest. We can be very happy with that. I pushed as hard as I could.”

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Malcolm Wilson added: I think the word extraordinary puts into perspective what Seb has actually been this afternoon. I could sense a glint in his eye at lunchtime that he was really going to go out there and try and attack. He did and has the lead. It was an incredible afternoon. It was just Sébastien at his best.”

Nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb led after the morning’s loop of three gravel stages on the varied tracks in the hilly areas around León and Guanajuato, but the Frenchman picked up a surprise puncture on the racing line and was forced to stop and change the wheel in SS14. The delay cost the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver well over two minutes and he slipped to fifth, a position he held at the overnight halt.

Dani Sordo of the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team had been the overnight leader, before ceding that advantage to Loeb in the first stage of the day, and the Spaniard also collected a front puncture in the decisive 14th stage. He drove to the finish on the flailing rubber and fell behind Loeb’s team-mate Kris Meeke and into third place. The pair were separated by just 10.9 seconds at the end of the day in the frantic battle for second place.

Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen was the main beneficiary of Loeb’s woes and the Norwegian held a comfortable fourth at the night halt.  His championship-leading team-mate Thierry Neuville lost further time because of his road position and was classified in sixth, but it could have been a lot worse for the Belgian after two adverse starting positions and more than one collision with banking on the stages.

Pontus Tidemand has completely dominated the WRC 2 category in his Škoda Fabia R5 and the Swede reached the night halt a staggering 5min 42.6sec ahead of Ford’s Gus Greensmith, who continues to be pressurised for his eighth place by a determined Finn Jari-Matti Latvala, who restarted under Rally2 after alternator issues on Friday. Latvala was just 52.8 seconds behind at the end of the day.

 

México’s Ricardo Trivino failed to start the second loop of Saturday’s timed tests and that opened the door for Francisco Name to fly the local flag in 15th overall before the last two stages.

Chile’s Pedro Heller and Bolivian rookie Marquito Bulacia held third and fourth in WRC 2 after SS18, while Great Britain’s Tom Williams was still running well on his Mexican debut near the rear of the field in the sole WRC 3 Ford Fiesta.

 

Saturday – as it happened

 

Only Elfyn Evans missed out on the third leg, as a disgruntled Neuville suffered the ignominy of opening the road for the second day. To compound matters for the WRC leader, he stopped for around 50 seconds after a watersplash in the opening 30.97km Guanajuatito stage and then ceded further time with a slow puncture en route to a stage time of 22min 39.3sec.

 

There was more drama to come: Ott Tänäk completed the special at a snail’s pace, complained that he only had around 20 horse power from the Yaris’s engine and tumbled from third to sixth position with the loss of 2min 50sec. Ogier moved to within 1.1 seconds of fourth-placed Meeke and appeared to have won the stage until a flying Loeb delivered a brutal sucker punch to Sordo with a stage time of 20min 35.6sec that gave him an outright lead of 5.1 seconds on a dramatic opening stage. Tidemand extended his WRC 2 lead over Greensmith to 3min 49.9sec.

The 26.37km of Otates followed a refuelling stop, but Tänäk’s engine woes forced the Estonian out of the rally on the road section and his demise promoted Neuville to sixth place. Meeke attacked on the twisty and technical special and the fastest time moved the Ulsterman to within 15.6 seconds of leader Loeb, who extended his advantage over Sordo to six seconds.

Tänäk said: “It was looking good. I felt comfortable from the start. Seven kilometres from the end of the stage we lost all the drive and the turbo had failed. That’s the way it is. I guess we were able to be competitive on my first event with the team on gravel. We had issues yesterday and still managed to be close to the first place, so there are some positives.”

The El Brinco test acted as the final Power Stage in 2017 and will go down in WRC folklore as the special where Meeke visited a spectator car park on his way to victory. Ogier attacked on the fast tracks and the quickest time moved him into an exact tie with Meeke for third place. Sordo was also on the offensive and the Spaniard reduced Loeb’s lead to just 2.9 seconds before the lunch halt.

A composed Tidemand reached the midday service with a massive lead of 4min 18sec over Greensmith in WRC2. Heller was third, but Bulacia lost further time in El Brinco with suspension damage.

Guanajuatito was re-run in the heat of the afternoon and the abrasive gravel turned the rally leader board on its head. Loeb stopped to change a front puncture and the delay cost him 2min 23sec to a flying stage winner Ogier. Sordo also collected a flat tyre after striking a small stone and the tyre began to fall apart towards the end of the stage. As Loeb fell behiind Mikkelsen and into fifth place, Sordo slipped to third and Ogier inherited a 3.8-second advantage over Meeke.

Ogier was again quickest through Otates 2 and, when Meeke spun and had to drive back through his own dust with the loss of 30 seconds, the Ulsterman conceded that the battle for the win was over. He trailed Ogier by 34.5 seconds and held a reduced advantage over Sordo of 7.3 seconds, after both Sordo and Loeb eased their pace to finish the special without a spare tyre in the car.

The faster tracks of El Brinco preceded two further special stages at the León Autodrome. Temperatures were hovering around 30°C. Ogier has always run well on this stage and the Frenchman extended his overall lead to 37.1 seconds with a fourth successive fastest time. Meeke retained second after beating a cautious Sordo by a mere one tenth of a second.

Tidemand’s WRC 2 stroll continued and his lead over Greensmith grew to 5min 36.9sec, although the Briton had been testing soft compound tyres on the afternoon’s loop of stages.

A large crowd gathered for the two stages at the Autodrome, where Loeb faced off against Ogier and the French duo shared a personal win apiece. The battle between Meeke and Sordo for second overall saw them share the outright fastest time in SS17 and the Ulsterman was three-tenths quicker in SS18 to increase his advantage to 7.7 seconds.

Ogier headed for service and on to the last León street stage with a lead of 35.2 seconds and the second fastest time ensured he remained comfortable at the end of the day. Mikkelsen claimed his first stage win but Sordo stalled on the startline and dropped a further 3.2 seconds to Meeke.

 

Tomorrow

Crews will tackle just three stages on the final morning and a mere 46.46km of competition. Action starts with the 24.32km of Alfaro and a double run through the television Las Minas special brings the action to a close. The test only runs for 11.07km and the second pass acts as the event’s Power Stage with five valuable championship points available to the winner.

Rally Guanajuato México 2018 – positions after SS19:

  1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC 3hrs 25min 03.1sec
  2. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën C3 WRC 3hrs 25min 39.0sec
  3. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hrs 25min 49.9sec
  4. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger-Synnevaag (NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hrs 26min 31.5sec
  5. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC 3hrs 27min 22.8sec
  6. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hrs 29min 47.7sec
  7. Pontus Tidemand (SWE)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Škoda Fabia R5 3hrs 34min 27.3sec
  8. Gus Greensmith (GBR)/Craig Parry (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 3hrs 40min 09.9sec
  9. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 3hrs 41min 02.7sec

 

Date: Sunday, March 11th

Day: 4 Flash N°: 7

Service: G (Rally Campus Service Park)

Five of the original 29 cars in the various categories have official retired from the event.

 

Joining Evans (Car 2 – accident) are Granados Cervera (Car 85 – mechanical), Cordero (Car 84) – mechanical, Wallingford (Car 82 – off road ) and Gonzalez-Hernandez (Car 87 – mechanical).

 

Ott Tänäk rejoined this morning once his Toyota Yaris WRC’s turbo had been replaced. He was classified in 14th overall. Ricardo Trivino also missed the second loop of stages on Saturday and returned to action today.

Date: Sunday, March 11th

Day: 4 Flash N°: 20

Special stage: Alfaro Distance: 23.32 km

Weather: Warming up and sunny

Road conditions: Dry with hanging dust in places

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“We take the optimum tyre choice for the Power Stage.”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

“I need to keep the car on the road. I also want to use this day well. The stage was difficult with the

dust. We don’t take risks and we are a bit lifting in places.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“You like to save some tyres. We did some changes to the car yesterday and it felt better and we had

more control over the rear.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

“It’s all about saving the tyres. I had a smooth run through the stage. I try to prepare for the Power

Stage.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I don’t know Kris’s times. I have a lot of dust in the middle of the stage. I try to enjoy. I want to continue

like this If we can finish on the podium, that’s good.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“It was a very good feeling. There was a bit of dust and I thought someone had had a problem. I am

really happy. Now I am waiting for Tänäk’s time.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“Everything good now. No worries at all. Let’s wait until the Power Stage. We try our best, for sure.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“Hanging dust here and there. A bit of bad vision sometimes. It’s okay.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

Half-rolled in the stage and was quickly put on his wheels by spectators. “I went on to some cobbles

and the car slid and there was a deep gully and it caught the wheel and it tipped on its side. We are

okay.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It was a good feeling in the stage. Second on the road sliding around a bit and it was fun. A long time

since I was driving like this.”

 

Car 38.   GREENSMITH/PARRY

Safely through the stage but he slipped behind Latvala in the overall standings and into ninth place.

Date: Sunday, March 11th

Day: 4                                                                Flash N°:     21

Special stage: Las Minas 1                                      Distance:     11.07 km

Weather: Warm and sunny                                    

Road conditions: Dry                                                           

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“The grip is not so good in places. It is always a bit longer kilometres when you are in the lead!”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

“It’s okay. It was quite slippery stage. We didn’t do a good job.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

Slid wide and off the track on the stage and lost around six seconds. “Trying to explore a little bit. It was

not a hard hit. I had to restart the car. It doesn’t matter too much, we have a good time to the car

behind.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

“It was very loose. I struggled with the handling of the car. I try to give my best now to see for the Power

Stage.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I tried to push hard in the first stage and then now we have a gap it is easier for us and we will drive

carefully to the end of the rally.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“It is going very well. I am happy. One problem. I have seen the proposal for the Power Stage. I will be

first World Rally Car on the road. I am in eighth positon. The Rally2 guys should be in the front. On the

next rally I can stop talking. That is my choice then. I want you to consider what is fair and what is not

fair!”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“I was checking couple of places for the Power Stage. I tried to be very nice with the tyres. Let’s see

what we can do on the next one.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“It was not a good stage”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“Problems with the driver on the stage before. I just have to try and protect my third place.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“This one I was careful. I did not enjoy this one so much.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“It is a bit more slippery. I love these stages. I just drive and the car feels fantastic.”

 

 

 

Date: Sunday, March 11th

Day: 4     Flash N°:     22

Special stage: Las Minas 2 (Power Stage)  Distance:     11.07 km

Weather: Warm, slight breeze and sunny           

Road conditions: Dry                  

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“Fantastic. It is a special place for me every year, seven podiums and four victories. I knew it would be

tough. Our chance was small and we never gave up. We progress a lot since last year and the car has

progressed on gravel.

 

M-Sport Ford WRT principal Malcolm Wilson said: “Live TV is so difficult to watch when your driver

is in the lead.. The way he has tackled this rally has been extraordinary. It was an incredible

performance.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“I tried to keep it clean. We have not had the top pace all weekend .I am happy enough. It is important

to take points away.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

Used the regulations to start the stage later than scheduled to improve their starting position. “We have

to get every point we can.We are disappointed. We knew it would be difficult. We will never give up.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

Rear-right puncture. “There was a rock in the middle of the road. It is very easy to puncture a tyre so I

drive carefully. After that I was a little bit nervous.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“First of all thanks for putting me in the position where I belong. I am grateful for that. I had a good

feeling and I could not drive any better. A couple of places maybe, we had a really good run.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

Used the regulations to start the stage later than scheduled to improve their starting position. “Theirry is

still running but I am fastest so far. I tried all I could.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“The narrow road is going well, but the very wide road was not too good. I was too wide in places. I lost

a lot of time.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“I feel a bit stupid to be honest. I had the car and the road position to win the rally. I didn’t do the job. I

have never been so disappointed with a third place before.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It has been great to be back in the WRC on a nice rally like México. I enjoyed the new generation of

World Rally Car a lot. It was a good moment when we took the lead and very bad when we changed the

wheel.

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“It has been a fantastic rally for us. We had a perfect car. The team did a perfect job. A big thanks to the

people who helped me and pushed me. I really enjoyed it. So happy to be here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                         

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 6

Special stage: Duarte-Derramadero 2 Distance: 26.05 km

Weather: Hot, windy and sunny, 29-30°C

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

26 of the original 29 starters completed the first loop but Evans (Car 2) did not start SS6.

 

Solans (Car 36), Rovanperä (Car 33) and Hernandez (Car 87) retired on the first loop.

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“There was more grip, for sure. We get traction with our tyres but it will be difficult with the soft

compound.” He clipped a wall near the stage finish.

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

Stopped in the stage after 8.6km and then restarted with the loss of around 2min 30sec. Rear-left

damage. “I went wide and hit the left rear. We thought it was a puncture but it’s suspension parts.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“It was a clean stage. I misunderstood one pace note.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

Hyundai technicians responded to the 25-second delay that Neuville experienced in SS5 and the team

issued the following statement: “We identified an unforeseen over-consumption of fuel in the car which

caused a loss of fuel pressure.”

 

SS6: “I am really upset because we lose the time. There was the possibility to catch a few positions this

afternoon but this will put us in trouble for the road position tomorrow.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I just tried to be not so aggressive. I have soft tyres on the rear and they were moving round a little bit.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“The guys have been working hard in the office trying to find the problem. Everything is okay but the

next stage is the most demanding.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“When the car is at full power it is working well…..”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“Everything is the same as in the morning, no change!”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“There’s more grip the second time around and we have the right tyres. I’m happy with my rhythm.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

Overshoot in the stage and lost some time. “I did not see it until it was too late, I was looking at the

junction after. It was not possible to go straight…”

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 7

Special stage: El Chocolate 2 Distance: 31.44 km

Weather: Warm and sunny

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team have confirmed that Evans/Barritt (Car 2) will not be restarting on Saturday.  

 

STAT OF THE DAY – 78

Sébastien Loeb has won 78 WRC rallies. The other 10 World Rally Car drivers have won 78 between them – until now…..

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“Not so good. We had a spin. Not a good run.”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

Stopped in the stage after a heavy collision with an armco barrier after 15km and was stuck in a ditch.

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“We try with the hard tyres, It was very slippery in there. A couple of mistakes but I am happy with the

stage in general.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

Three seconds slower than Sordo’s fastest time in the morning. “It was okay I did my best. I was on

three soft and one hard. It was moving around a lot. It was very hot in the car. It was really demanding.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“It was good, I tried to manage with the soft tyres I think it’s okay.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“It was better than in the morning. It is still difficult. It’s a very demanding stage. Hard tyres I think was a

correct choice. Some places it is difficult to get the grip. The ground and the tyres are getting very hot.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“Just in the last corner we hit a wall but nothing too much.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

Off in the stage after 14.1km. Crew okay.  

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“I had a spin three-quarters of the way through there and lost six or seven seocnds We got caught in a

rut in hairpin and had to reverse. Silly mistake.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

Unofficially a first stage win for Loeb since Monte Carlo 2015 and he moves up to second place……”We

had the hard tyres this afternoon. There is no grip in some places. I tried to drive in the line. It was not

easy. It was a long stage. It was good at the end…!”

 

Car 32.   HUTTUNEN/LINNAKETO

Radiator issues cannot be repaired and the car was returned to service before this stage after problems

In SS6

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 2

Service: B (Rally Campus Service Park)

 

 

Car 2.   EVANS/BARRITT

The crew retired at the service point because navigator Dan Barritt was slightly injured in the morning’s

crash.

 

“We have taken Dan to hospital because we think he is suffering from concussion,” said team principal

Malcolm Wilson. “The guys can definitely fix the car but, sadly, we won’t be able to continue with Dan’s

situation. “We will use the time we have now to repair the car. After that, a lot depends on the outcome

with Dan. We’ll see what the hospital says. If he is suffering from concussion then it’s unlikely he will be

able to continue tomorrow.”

RALLY GUANAJUATO CORONA 2017, March 9-12, 2017
2017 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3

For immediate release
Sunday, March 12th, 2017

KRIS MEEKE AND CITROËN SURVIVE LAST GASP DRAMA TO KICK-START WRC CHALLENGE WITH RALLY MEXICO VICTORY

• Ogier snatches WRC lead with second place; Neuville rounds off the podium
• Pontus Tidemand pulls away from Eric Camilli to claim victory in WRC 2

LEÓN (Mexico):  The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle confirmed victory in Rally Guanajuato Corona in Mexico, despite one of the most thrilling finales to an event in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Appearing comfortable at the start of the final Power Stage with a lead of 37.2 seconds, Meeke got caught out by a bump on a fast right bend and found himself in a car park full of spectators’ vehicles. Quick thinking by navigator Paul Nagle outlined an escape route and the C3 WRC driver regained the track and powered through the stage finish to claim the win by just 13.8 seconds.

Clearly emotional and shell-shocked after giving his French team their first WRC win in the C3 and a reward for all their development work with the car, Meeke said: “I got caught out on a bump on a fast-right. I am a lucky, lucky boy. It’s certainly one way to finish a rally. Trying to find my way out of the parked cars and a gap in the hedge. It was getting so tight. Wow..”

The Ulsterman duly sealed his fourth career WRC win after previous victories in Argentina (2015) and Portugal and Finland in 2016. The result also marked the third different manufacturer to take the top step of the podium in as many events, following M-Sport Ford’s win in Monte Carlo and Toyota’s success in Sweden.

Sébastien Ogier’s consolation for finishing second overall in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC was the outright lead in the World Championship. His result also enabled the M-Sport World Rally Team to extend their advantage in the Manufacturers’ series.

Ogier said: “Unfortunately I lost some seconds on a corner and could not win the Power Stage, but second place is a good result for the team and gives me the lead in the championship again.”

Thierry Neuville had been tipped by many people to win in Mexico, but Hyundai Motorsport had not envisaged the simple fuel filter issues that plagued all three of their i20 Coupes on the opening gravel stages on Friday. Once that issue was rectified and tyre choice also came into play, Neuville was too far behind the leading duo to make am impression and the Belgian reached the finish in third place, the fastest time on the Power Stage giving him valuable bonus points.

Neither M-Sport’s Ott Tanak nor Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon had the pace to match the top three over the duration of the three days, but Tanak claimed one fastest stage time and both drivers were able to pick up valuable championship points for finishing fourth and fifth overall.

Both Juho Hänninen and Jari-Matti Latvala were under instructions from team principal Tommi Mäkinen to bring the two struggling Toyota GAZOO World Rally Team Yaris WRCs to the finish. The Finn had under estimated the development work needed to be competitive at altitude in Mexico and a viral infection for Hänninen hadn’t helped matters either. Latvala used the closing stages to gather data for team engineers and, even though the duo were only separated by 0.3 seconds at the start of the final day, Latvala came through to finish sixth.

Dani Sordo lost his chance of challenging for a podium at the two super special stages on Friday evening, but the Spaniard set a couple of fastest times for Hyundai Motorsport on Saturday and was an impressive force once the i20 Coupe’s early niggles had been rectified. He finished eighth and Welshman Elfyn Evans was ninth, his Mexican challenge running aground even before the start when M-Sport were forced to change the Fiesta’s engine after the shakedown stage at the cost of a five-minute penalty.

There may only have been five registered WRC 2 drivers in this year’s Rally Mexico but Skoda’s Pontus Tidemand and M-Sport’s Eric Camilli produced one of the most fascinating duels in the history of the support series. Fractions of a second separated the duo for much of Saturday after Tidemand had controlled proceedings on the first gravel stages on Friday.

The Swede managed to eke out a two-second lead to take into the final morning and a crushing performance in La Calera  – where he was 22.5 seconds quicker than his rival – settled the contest in his favour and gave him the outright WRC 2 lead. “It was a great battle and a good rally for me,” said Tidemand. “Jonas and the team did a great job. I had a strategy to push hard on the first stage today and it worked.”

Mexico’s Benito Guerra was plagued by brake problems a puncture and a general lack of kilometres behind the wheel. But he delighted the home crowds by rounding off the podium places. “This is not a bad result for me. A podium finish on my first event in WRC 2 and good points for the championship,” said an upbeat Guerra.

Chile’s Pedro Heller was fourth, but early engine issues sidelined Poland’s Hubert Ptaszek.

Sunday – as it happened

There were only two special stages on Sunday but they would be a pair of the most important in Kris Meeke’s rising career and a critical point in the season for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. Twenty-three cars were granted start times, but Miguel Medina failed to make the start in his Ford Fiesta and joined Ptaszek on the list of retirements.

Valery Gorban was given the job of opening the road. Ogier and Meeke were ninth and 10th into the 32.96km of the La Calera stage, starting at San Juan de Otates, as a heavy rain shower passed over the Rally Campus Service Park with many crews still completing their morning’s service.

It was raining heavily in the opening stage as well and Gorban slithered his way to a modest time of 24min 11.5sec. Sordo was 1min 57.3sec quicker than the Ukrainian to set the target time for the leading group. Paddon came within a tenth of a second of the Spaniard’s time and Latvala beat Hänninen by 6.8 seconds to tighten his grip on sixth overall.

Meeke’s strategy was plain to see and the Ulsterman was not going to sit back and open the door for any late Ogier challenge. The C3 WRC driver carded the fastest time and headed towards the final Power Stage at Derramadero with a lead of 37.2 seconds over the defending World Champion. Tidemand was also in fine form and the Swede extended his WRC 2 lead over Camilli to 24.5 seconds when the Frenchman got caught out on the stage with a wet set-up on his Ford Fiesta.

WRC bonus points were on offer for the television finale at Derramadero. The starting order meant that the WRC 2 runners were first into the stage and Camilli was given road-sweeping duties. It mattered not in any case after the previous stage and the Frenchman ceded the WRC 2 victory to Tidemand.

Latvala pushed hard for the bonus points and clocked a time of 12min 21.9sec to move to the top of the leader board before his time was eclipsed by Tanak’s time of 12min 17.7sec. Neuville went even quicker in 12min 13.9sec, but Ogier ran out just short of the Belgian, who claimed the maximum bonus points.

Meeke was eighth quickest after getting caught out on a bump on a fast right and overshooting a junction. He had to pass through some parked cars and a gap in a hedge to complete one of the most remarkable finishes in the history of the WRC and claim his fourth ever WRC win and Citroën’s first win of the year. It was a fitting end to another memorable Rally Mexico.

Rally Guanajuato Corona 2017 – positions after SS19 (unofficial @ 13.47hrs)
1. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën C3 WRC   3hr 22min 04.6sec
2. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC  3hr 22min 18.4sec
3. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hr 23min 04.3sec
4. Ott Tanak (EST)/Martin Jarveoja (EST) Ford Fiesta WRC  3hr 24min 22.9sec
5. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/John Kennard (NZL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hr 25min 37.5sec
6. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 3hr 26min 44.9sec
7. Juho Hänninen (FIN)/Kaj Lindström (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC  3hr 27min 10.8sec
8. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC  3hr 27min 27.3sec
9. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Daniel Barritt (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC  3hr 30min 46.4sec
10. Pontus Tidemand (SWE)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5  3hr 32min 56.5sec
11. Eric Camilli (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta R5  3hr 33min 39.2sec
12. Benito Guerra (MEX)/Daniel Cue (ESP) Skoda Fabia R5  3hr 40min 42.6sec

Rally leaders
SS1-3 Juho Hanninen
SS4-19 Kris Meeke

Stage winners
SS0   Juho Hänninen
SS1  Sébastien Ogier
SS2  Cancelled
SS3 Cancelled
SS4  Kris Meeke
SS5  Thierry Neuville
SS6  Thierry Neuville
SS7  Kris Meeke
SS8 Elfyn Evans
SS9 Dani Sordo
SS10 Dani Sordo
SS11 Thierry Neuville/Kris Meeke
SS12 Sébastien Ogier
SS13 Kris Meeke
SS14 Ott Tanak
SS15 Elfyn Evans
SS16 Elfyn Evans
SS17 Sébastien Ogier
SS18 Kris Meeke
SS19 Thierry Neuville

Ends

For further media information:
Rally Guanajuato Corona 2017, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, E-mail:  [email protected] or [email protected], Tel: + 52 (477) 771-4570.

www.wrc.com
www.rallymexico.com

Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä, one of the fastest-rising stars in the rallying world, has confirmed he will be competing in the fifteenth edition of Rally Guanajuato Corona 2018. The name Rovanperä will bring back fond memories for anyone who was around in 2002 for Mexico’s WRC candidate event, in which his father, Harri Rovanperä, easily dominated the field aboard his Peugeot 206 WRC.

Having inherited his father’s great driving skills, at just 17 years old Kalle has already had a taste of victory, after being crowned champion in the R2 category at Rally Latvia 2015. Fans got their first glimpse of what was to come in a 2010 viral video that shows a barely eight-year-old Kalle driving a rally car, with the skill and expertise of a professional.

This year he took part in three different championships, in Italy, Latvia and various WRC 2 events, driving three different makes of car: a Škoda Fabia R5, a Peugeot 208 T16 and a Ford Fiesta R5.

Kalle made his official debut in the World Rally Championship (WRC) event in Wales in the WRC 2 category, driving a Ford Fiesta R5 and with the also Finn, Jonne Halttunen as co-driver. At Rally Australia, Kalle finished twelfth overall, taking home 25 points as winner in the WRC 2 category.

The presence of Harri Rovanperä here in 2018, who’ll be accompanying his son on the trip, will bring back pleasant memories for Mexican fans as they celebrate the 15th anniversary of the first WRC event in Guanajuato.

Kalle Rovanperä
Born: October 1, 2000
Place: Jyväskylä, Finland
42 rally appearances
5 victories
1 WRC 2 win

Kalle Rovanpera (FIN) Jonne Halttunen (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5

Rally Guanajuato Corona 2018 activities kicked off this Sunday with a visit by drivers Benito Guerra, Kalle Rovanperä, and Nil Solans to Nou Camp stadium, home ground of local football team León.

Having started in 2012, these visits by members of Rally Mexico’s competing teams have since become a tradition.

One driver who never misses the opportunity to spend some time with what he has made clear on various occasions is his favourite team is Mexican driver Benito Guerra, who proudly donned León’s characteristic green jersey in a show of solidarity between this local WRC hero and the star football team of the state of Guanajuato.

During the get-together, Benito exchanged jerseys with León’s current top scorer, Argentina’s Mauro Boselli, while Kalle Rovanperä did the same with US Soccer legend Landon Donovan, and 2017 WRC 3 Champion Nil Solans with goalkeeper William Yarbrough.

Guerra and Solans also took the opportunity to enjoy a fun penalty shootout with León goalies Carlos Felipe Rodríguez and David Macías, and in doing so proved that their right foot is not just good for hitting the accelerator but also for shooting from the penalty spot.

“I’m delighted to come see my friends of León and congratulate them on yesterday’s win, and this year, as always, I’m very grateful for my jersey. Coming here to the stadium is like a good luck ritual,” commented Benito Guerra.

“It is a very nice stadium. This is my first time in Mexico and these kinds of experiences make you feel proud. And now with these jerseys, it’s all very enjoyable,” added Nil Solans.

Monday will see the first road activity from some of the competitors, who will be doing the test drive in the city of Irapuato from 9 a.m.

And so began the official activities of this, the 15th edition of Rally Guanajuato Corona, which will be taking take place from March 8 to 11 on the roads of Guanajuato, Silao and León.

Rallymex

•    Marshals, stage directors, safety car drivers, FIV drivers, and medical and rescue personnel trained and ready for Rally Guanajuato Corona 2018.

Rally Guanajuato Corona is known for being one of the safest in the world and its highly skilled personnel receive ongoing training to keep them up to date on the latest emergency response techniques and technology available around the world.

With any event on this scale comes a huge responsibility and everyone involved in its organisation is extremely important to its success, which is why, every year, the question of safety both off and on the roads is looked at with the help of doctors, firefighters and indeed the entire team.

In the run-up to Rally Mexico, the third event of the World Rally Championship (WRC) season, those in charge of spectator safety attended a training workshop in Mexico City, a “Mini Rally” if you will, at which they were given theoretical courses on medical procedures and rescue protocols in the event of an accident.

Rally Guanajuato Corona 2018 Medical Director, Pablo Escalera, explained that the event also looked at various extrication techniques useful for doctors, paramedics and rescuers.

“Two types of extrication techniques were practised, semi-fast and fast, the type implemented depending on the severity of the accident. The exercises were held in a car set up to simulate the conditions of a competition car, and all of the attendees were given the chance to practise the techniques,” he said.

Escalera also stressed that an event of this magnitude has a whole range of tools at its disposal that enable the safety personnel to carry out their work effectively, including IVs (intervention vehicles) fitted with state-of-the-art equipment that ensures a quick and timely response whenever required.

“We have intervention vehicles that are driven by experienced rally drivers and crewed by specialist doctors and paramedics, as well as being equipped with all the necessary medical equipment, all of which complies to international standards,” he concluded.

The ongoing training provided to all those responsible for safety at the event ensures that Rally Mexico is one of the safest in the world, and what better way to keep it in safe Mexican hands than to have them continue to specialize in the latest techniques every year.

Rallymex

 

LEÓN (México):  This week’s 15th Rally Guanajuato México marks the first time this season that FIA World Rally Championship teams will face the rigours of punishing heat, abrasive gravel and demanding altitude.

México’s now traditional third round of the championship is a far cry from the changing stage surfaces of the Alpes-Maritimes or the sub-zero temperatures of a harsh Swedish winter. Several drivers switched teams in the close season and new partnerships provide new challenges, particularly on a specialised event like Rally México where pre-rally gravel testing could play a key role in determining the outcome at the ceremonial finish on Sunday (March 11) afternoon.

The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are the defending Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ champions after enjoying an historic season in 2017, where Frenchman Sébastien Ogier claimed his fifth personal title and M-Sport beat factory opposition on a limited budget to create history in the Teams’ category.

Three-time Mexican event winner Ogier began this season well with victory in Monte Carlo, but the team suffered a setback in Sweden and management realise the importance of podium results in México. Unseasonal wintry weather trimmed the team’s pre-rally test in Spain to just three days, but M-Sport took advantage of Ford’s climatic chamber in Dunton to carry out vital engine mapping to cope with altitudes of in excess of 2,700 metres above sea level on the mountainous gravel stages around Guanajuato and León.

Team principal Malcolm Wilson said: “We are expecting the championship to be closer than ever this year. If we want to regain our place at the head of the standings, we need to deliver a strong team result in México. I am confident that we can launch a return to form.”

Ogier currently holds second in the championship and is joined by Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans and Finland’s Teemu Suninen in M-Sport’s three-car team. Young Suninen will be tackling the event for the first time in a World Rally Car, although he won WRC2 here in 2016.

The Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team struggled with overheating issues on the Yaris WRC’s Mexican debut last season, but team principal Tommi Mäkinen is keen to show improvements have been made. Toyota has started the season well and holds second in the Manufacturers’ standings, with the experienced former event winner Jari-Matti Latvala joined by Estonian Ott Tanak and fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi this time out.

Mäkinen, 53, said: “We have done a lot of work to improve. México was tough for us with our new car. We have improved the cooling and the engine. We have even been in an altitude dyno in Japan and have put a lot of effort into these areas.”

Pre-event testing is banned outside of Europe and the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team headed to the Girona region of Spain in February for a three-day test. Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen, Spain’s Dani Sordo and early WRC leader Thierry Neuville all had opportunities to test the i20 WRC. Neuville is one of the clear favourites to win the title for the first time this year and will be hoping to adapt quickly to this week’s 22 timed special stages and a total competitive distance of 344.49km.

Nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb returns to the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team to accompany last year’s Mexican event winner Kris Meeke. The Frenchman won the third round of the WRC on six occasions with Daniel Elena and rejolins the team after a three-year absence. His expertise and experience has helped the French team make a promising start to the season. Besides, Citroën has won seven of the 13 Mexican events in the WRC thus far.

The team tested the C3 WRC in the Almeria province of southern Spain last month and 44-year-old Loeb was encouraged by the feedback: “The evolution of the suspension and the geometry helped give me more confidence and that’s something I needed. Compared to the old World Rally Car, for sure, the engine is stronger and the balance of the car was good.”

Citroën’s new team principal Pierre Budar added: “The aim will be to pick up where we left off in Sweden. We know the rally very well and claimed the C3 WRC’s first ever win here. We also know the first gravel round of the year is unusual, mainly due to the altitude, and that can shake things up completely.”

Local hero Benito Guerra will not be taking part in the 15th Rally Guanajuato México after his Skoda Fabia R5 was completely destroyed by fire at the test session in Irapuato on Monday.

The Mexican had taken part in a couple of runs and the car was sitting under a tent in the service area when a fire rapidly took hold and could not be extinguished before terminal damage had been done. It was a bitterly disappointing start to what should be a seven-rally WRC programme for the Mexican with Motorsport Italia.

Several of the 28 entrants will be competing on Mexican gravel for the first time. One of those is young Finn Kalle Rovanperä, the son of 2002 Rally Mexico winner Harri Rovanperä. He has the backing of Skoda Motorsport for his WRC2 entry in a Fabia R5 alongside navigator Jonne Halttunen.

Competing against the Finn in a strong WRC2 field will be a 17-year-old Bolivian debutant, who also has a father with a keen motor sporting tradition. Marquito Bulacia drives one of four M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5s and has the backing, not only of father Marco, but also of the Bolivian President Evo Morales.

His plan to tackle Rally México and five other WRC events was launched at a reception in La Paz last week and the youngster has the added benefit of being used to competing at altitude. His father is a regular competitor in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and finished the recent Dakar Rally in 14th overall in a South Racing Ford Ranger.

The youngster, who won his class in the Bolivian Championship at the age of 15 and drove a Fiesta WRC to the semi-finals of the Bettega Memorial rallysprint in Bologna last December, said: “I’m excited to represent my country and I am very proud. It’s incredible, a dream come true.”

Tomorrow (Wednesday), is the second day of stage reconnaissance for competitors and pre-event scrutineering for P2, P3 and Non-Priority drivers.

 

Rallymex.

 

 

LEÓN (México):  The 15th Rally Guanajuato México gets underway with a spectacular special stage through the narrow streets and silver mining tunnels in downtown Guanajuato on Thursday evening.

 

The traditional first gravel round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) has carved its own specialised niche in the calendar and is renowned for its demanding special stages – often at higher altitude than at any other round of the series – slick organisation, thousands of spectators and some of the most spectacular television footage ever aired from the WRC.

 

Belgian Thierry Neuville starts the event in a strong position. He has a 10-point lead over five-time World Champion Sébastien Ogier in the Drivers’ Championship and his Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team leads the Manufacturers’ category by a single point from Toyota GAZOO Racing.

 

Four of the 11 World Rally Car drivers are previous winners in México. Ogier has three wins to his name with Volkswagen, while Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala now drives for Toyota and also achieved a win with the German team in 2016. A returning nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb has won here on six occasions and the Frenchman’s Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team colleague Kris Meeke was triumphant last March, despite a spectacular excursion into a spectator car park on the final stage.

 

Meeke said: “We have made further improvements to the C3 WRC since Catalunya, so I have high hopes that we can be among the front-runners. A lot of our rivals had reliability issues because of the altitude last year and are bound to be a lot better prepared this time. I like the event. The full power of the car is not available and you have to be as clean as possible in your driving. I’m pleased with the recent tests. We have made more progress, especially on the dampers in conjunction with Öhlins. This was Sébastien’s (Loeb) impression too.”

 

 

The 2018 season promises to be the closest for many years and each of the four manufacturers’ teams realise the importance of conquering the Mexican gravel stages. The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team suffered a disappointing setback in Sweden last month and Ogier would dearly love to get the better of Loeb in what promises to be an intriguing contest between the two Frenchmen, who have won the last 14 WRC titles between them!

 

While M-Sport give Teemu Suninen his World Rally Car debut alongside Elfyn Evans and Ogier, Hyundai have opted for the sheer pace and guile of Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen and the experience of Dani Sordo to support series leader Neuville.

 

Ott Tanak has been impressive in México in recent seasons, but made headlines for all the wrong reasons back in 2015 when he left the stage and crashed his Ford into a lake. The Estonian’s switch to Toyota has already netted 21 Drivers’ Championship points and he, Latvala and Esapekka Lappi will be hoping to mount a serious challenge for the Japanese manufacturer after overheating issues and a general lack of development for altitude and heat spoiled the team’s Mexican debut in 2017.

 

WRC2 – wide open in México?

A victory apiece for Czech driver Jan Kopecky and new Japanese sensation Takamoto Katsuta have given them a joint early lead in the WRC2 category after Monte Carlo and Sweden. Neither has made the trip to North America and that has left the door wide open for the likes of Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand and Finland’s Jari Huttunen to close the gap and potentially snatch the category lead in their respective factory-supported Škoda Fabia R5 and Hyundai i20 R5.

 Competition is likely to be intense, but Tidemand claimed victory in León on his debut 12 months ago after an early duel with Eric Camilli and starts as the slight favourite to win again.

 Tidemand said: “This is a rally that has everything, fast sections, narrow and technical hairpins and corners. The climb up the mountains is rough on the engines and, if you make a mistake, you quickly notice that it costs more than usual.We aim to repeat last year’s victory. I feel the event suits me well.”

 Škoda Motorsport’s young Finn Kalle Rovanperä, Russia’s Radik Shaymiev, Bolivian rookie Marquito Bulacia and Spain’s Nil Solans will have other ideas, while the likes of England’s Gus Greensmith and Chile’s Pedro Heller will be hoping for useful points-scoring finishes. A pre-rally testing fire sidelined Benito Guerra’s Škoda on Monday.

 México’s Ricardo Trivino and American Dave Wallingford round off the R5 entry.

 Mexican drivers dominate lower reaches of the entry list in the Non-Priority driver category and Francisco Name and Ricardo Cordero face a Group N duel in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Xs. Miguel-Antonio Cerve, Julian Salazar, Jorge Hernandez and Oscar Balsa round off the local contingent and there are further entries for Lithuania’s Deividas Jocius, Canada’s Jason Bailey and a Ford Fiesta R2 entry for Great Britain’s Tom Williams.

Tomorrow (Thursday), marks the start of the event at the end of a hectic day’s schedule that gets underway with the customary 5.31km shakedown stage for teams from 09.00hrs at Llano Grande, the stage finish located just 15.85km from Rally Campus León.

After putting the final touches to their gravel stage set-up at the shakedown, several of the leading drivers will attend the pre-event press conference (13.30hrs), prior to a pre-start ceremony in the nearby town of Silao.

The opening Monster Street Stage of 2.53km has been modified and gets the competitive action underway along the narrow, slippery roads and through the silver mining tunnels of the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ceremonial start follows in the centre of Guanajuato, adjacent to Teatro Juárez and the renowned Alhondiga de Granaditas museum.

Rally Guanajuato México 2018 – leading starters:

  1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC
  2. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Daniel Barritt (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC
  3. Teemu Suninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Ford Fiesta WRC
  4. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger-Synnevaag (NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
  5. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
  6. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
  7. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC
  8. Ott Tanak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC
  9. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC
  10. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën C3 WRC
  11. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC

2018 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers – positions after round 2:
1. Thierry Neuville (BEL)                   41pts
2. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)                   31pts
3. Jari-Matti Latvala  (FIN)                23pts

  1. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) 23pts
    5. Ott Tanak (EST) 21pts
    6. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)             21pts
    7. Craig Breen (IRL)                           20pts
  2. Kris Meeke (GBR) 17pts
    9. Hayden Paddon (NZL) 10pts
    10. Elfyn Evans (GBR)                        8pts, etc
     

2018 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers – positions after round 2:
1. Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT             54pts
2. Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT          53pts
3. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT       46pts

  1. M-Sport Ford WRT 43pts

2018 FIA WRC 2 Championship – positions after round 2:
1. Jan Kopecky (CZE)                          25pts

  1. Takamoto Katsuta (JPN) 25pts
  2. Eddie Scieserre (ITA) 18pts
    3. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) 18pts
  3. Ole Christian Veiby (NOR) 15pts
  4. Teemu Suninen (FIN) 15pts
  5. Guillaume de Mevius (BEL) 12pts
  6. Mattias Adielsson (SWE) 12pts
  7. Janne Tuohino (FIN) 10pts
  8. Jari Huttunen (FIN) 8pts, etc

 

 

LEÓN (México):  Last year’s Rally Guanajuato México winner Kris Meeke gave himself a major confidence boost by topping the times in Thursday morning’s 5.31km Shakedown stage at Llano Grande, near León.

Crews were permitted to carry out multiple passes through the test stage and the Ulsterman clocked the fastest time of 3min 41.0sec on his third run. WRC series leader Thierry Neuville was second, a mere four-tenths of a second behind the C3 WRC, and defending World Champion Sébastien Ogier rounded off the top three amongst the 11 World Rally Car drivers.

Elfyn Evans laid down the gauntlet on the first run with a time of 3min 45.9sec but that was soon surpassed by Ogier’s second run of 3min 44.8sec. But, a flying Kris Meeke demolished the opposition with a run of 3min 42.7sec to shave 2.1 seconds off the Frenchman’s temporary advantage.

A returning Sébastien Loeb was nearly 15 seconds off the pace on his first run but the nine-time WRC champion was 12 seconds quicker on his second run and slotted into eighth. He eventually finished in ninth.

Ogier’s third run came within a tenth of a second of Meeke’s quickest time, but the Ulsterman was not to be denied and he extended his advantage with a flying third run of 3min 41.0sec.

Teemu Suninen’s fourth run moved him into a virtual third with a time of 3min 43.4sec, only for the Finn to be overtaken soon afterwards by Neuville’s flying third pass of 3min 41.4sec after he had returned to service to change the settings.

Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Ott Tänäk and Jari-Matti Latvala eventually finished the session in fourth and fifth, but Esapekka Lappi suffered technical issues in the stage.

Pontus Tidemand topped the early times in WRC2 with a run of 3min 54.3sec, but Kalle Rovanperä went even faster later in the session with a 3min 51.9sec flyer.

LEÓN (México):  Last year’s Rally Guanajuato México winner Kris Meeke gave himself a major confidence boost by topping the times in Thursday morning’s 5.31km Shakedown stage at Llano Grande, near León.

Crews were permitted to carry out multiple passes through the test stage and the Ulsterman clocked the fastest time of 3min 41.0sec on his third run. WRC series leader Thierry Neuville was second, a mere four-tenths of a second behind the C3 WRC, and defending World Champion Sébastien Ogier rounded off the top three amongst the 11 World Rally Car drivers.

Elfyn Evans laid down the gauntlet on the first run with a time of 3min 45.9sec but that was soon surpassed by Ogier’s second run of 3min 44.8sec. But, a flying Kris Meeke demolished the opposition with a run of 3min 42.7sec to shave 2.1 seconds off the Frenchman’s temporary advantage.

A returning Sébastien Loeb was nearly 15 seconds off the pace on his first run but the nine-time WRC champion was 12 seconds quicker on his second run and slotted into eighth. He eventually finished in ninth.

Ogier’s third run came within a tenth of a second of Meeke’s quickest time, but the Ulsterman was not to be denied and he extended his advantage with a flying third run of 3min 41.0sec.

Teemu Suninen’s fourth run moved him into a virtual third with a time of 3min 43.4sec, only for the Finn to be overtaken soon afterwards by Neuville’s flying third pass of 3min 41.4sec after he had returned to service to change the settings.

Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Ott Tänäk and Jari-Matti Latvala eventually finished the session in fourth and fifth, but Esapekka Lappi suffered technical issues in the stage.

Pontus Tidemand topped the early times in WRC2 with a run of 3min 54.3sec, but Kalle Rovanperä went even faster later in the session with a 3min 51.9sec flyer.

Thursday, March 8th 2018

 

Present:

1st Kris Meeke – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

2nd Thierry Neuville – Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

3rd Sébastien Ogier – M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

 

Q:

Kris it was a win for you here last year in México. Quickest at shakedown today. Are you feeling happy?

 

KM:

Yes, the feeling was good right from the beginning. We had a good test last week. We did a few things on the set-up and everything felt quite comfortable. It’s nice when you arrive at the shakedown and you have that comfortable feeling. The feeling is still there. We always arrive in Mexico and the weather is a lot different to Europe. It’s even different to last year. Last year, we had cloud cover. This year it is baking hot. The shakedown is a little bit tighter and twistier than the rally, but it’s always nice to have a good rhythm on a Thursday morning.

 

Q:

Kris, it was a stunning win for you last year. A repeat performance for you this time around, maybe, without one element?

 

KM:

We will forget the car park element this time! The thing I care to remember about last year was the strong performance throughout the whole rally. We had a good road position on day one, but half the loop was cancelled and we had only two stages to make a difference. We were able to manage it. I had a good feeling. You have to be on your guard on this rally. There are so many obstacles, bridge parapets, rocks on the inside and the outside and some new tricky parts on stages this year. It’s never dull.

 

Q:

Thierry, you come here as the leader of the championship. First on the road. Is it good to be back in the sunshine after two tough winter events?

 

KM:

Oh it is. We all like the sun and atmosphere here. It is a lovely event. While our friends and family are still freezing in Europe we have the honour to be in the sun with the nice weather.

 

Q:

Winning from first on the road has been done before, but it’s not going to be easy, is it?

 

TN:

Somebody told me that Loeb has won when he was first on the road, and Seb (Ogier), so Seb and Seb. I think it is much more difficult this year. The competition is very close and high. Since one year, the championship has been exciting for the drivers and the fans. It’s going to be a tough challenge for us. I tried to prepare mentally before we came, but there will be a lot of frustration for us in the car.

 

Q:

Sébastien, huge support every year when you come here. Describe what the stage and start in Guanajuato is like?

 

SO:

It is simply the best ceremonial start of the season. Last year, it was amazing to be in México City, but we were somehow missing the special atmosphere of Guanajuato. It’s nice to be back. We also have a tricky stage to drive there. It’s always tricky in the narrow streets, but it’s much longer now and it would be easy to make mistakes. I guess we need to be a bit cautious.

 

Q:

What about your aim for the weekend?

 

SO:

You know, I always aim for the best. I start every rally with hope to have the chance to fight for the top. It will be difficult. At least I will have one single line that will help me a little bit. The feeling is good and I am motivated like always. The shakedown was not so bad. We will see tomorrow. You have to look at the big picture and score the maximum points you can for the championship.

Pre-event Press Conference

Thursday 8 March

 

Present:

Sébastien Loeb, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Dani Sordo, Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT

 

Q:

Welcome back to the WRC Seb! 2015 was when we last saw you behind the wheel of a WRC car, with 2012 being your last full season. You return to a rally you’ve had great success at with six wins. Is it good to be back?

SL:

It’s not very different, but I suppose it’s a bit more complicated to get in the rhythm on the first stage on the recce. I definitely had to think a bit more. It’s less natural than it was. The feeling came back during the recce and it was okay. It was the same thing this morning in the shakedown and I was not really confident. My position was very low. I tried to take it easy and increase the rhythm and was quite okay.

 

Q:

How are you finding the new generation WRC car? What are your thoughts on the performance from your tests?

SL:

I tested two days, two weeks ago, and for me the feeling was quite good. I was not able to compare to the other car. With the new regulations and the new evolutions, the car feels fast, the engine feels good and the suspension and the balance are good.

 

Q:

You have a good road position here, you know how to win at this event – in your mind what are you targeting in terms of a result?

SL:

It is difficult to say what I can do. All the WRC drivers do a lot of rallies every year and they are in the rhythm. It’s not easy to fight with any of them. I hope I will be able to find a good rhythm, but it’s really difficult to predict. It’s a surprise but I don’t know what to expect. The feeling is okay, the shakedown was okay and I hope I can do a good rhythm and drive a bit more.

 

Q:

What do you think will be the toughest challenge?

SL:

El Chocolate, the second stage. Everyone knows it very well but it’s the first time for me. It is one of the challenges for me. The other stages, some of the old notes are okay, from 2011 and 2012 – my last time here. Some do not change a lot. The hardest challenge is to get the confidence with the car and myself.

 

Q:

Jari-Matti, what are your thoughts on the event and are you feeling confident?

J-ML:

The feeling is now good. Sweden was frustrating for me. Now it’s a new page and we had a good test and, up to the shakedown, I am happy with the car. We made some changes and everything is good now.

 

Q:

You had some issues here last year. What have you done to rectify those?

J-ML:

We have done a lot of work with that side and we have used a dyno in Japan to acclimatise the car to these conditions. The team have done a good job there. Juho Hänninen, our test driver, concentrated on the engine side in Spain. We are well prepared. Remember, more power means more heat and heat needs to go somewhere. We have a good solution to the cooling and we have a strategy for this in case it goes bad.

 

Q:

Sébastien (Loeb) mentioned the El Chocolate stage could be tricky. What are your thoughts?

J-ML:

This stage is always challenging. Guanajuatito has a new part too. There is a seven-kilometre section that is tricky and technical and narrow with rocks in the side. The stages are in good condition, but you cannot go wid. There are some nasty rocks on the side of the road.

 

Q:

It looks like it’s going to be a very competitive year and, of course, Sébastien Loeb is back as well…

J-ML:

I think the challenge at the moment is higher that it has been for many years. Seb being here is great. It will be testing for him and all the other drivers. The years are going quickly. I am getting older as well. It’s good fun. I was 17 when I started, but it’s been many years now….

 

Q:

Elfyn, you were quoted this week as saying you’ve had a ‘rubbish’ start to the season. In your mind is it a combination of factors that have led to a disappointing start?

EE:

No it’s not been the best start. It’s not what we wanted, punctures on both events is not great, I take part of the responsibility but, the one in Sweden, I was a bit unlucky. We have to try to turn things around. I have a good road position and will push to the maximum to get a strong result.

 

Q:

This evening’s street stage is longer and more challenging. What are your thoughts?

EE:

I think everybody with be erring on the side of caution. It’s a tricky one to open the event and more so than before. There are more corners, more grip changes with the cobbles, so you have to be clean and efficient.

 

Q:

Dani, welcome back. You return to the championship after missing Rally Sweden where we saw you become a TV presenter. Was it a good experience?

DS:

It was not bad. The weather is better here. In Sweden, it was cold outside! But I prefer to be in the car.

 

Q:

By missing out on Sweden you are handed a very favourable road position here. Can you take advantage?

DS:

The target is to try to fight for the victory. I have a really good road position to do something really good. The podium is the minimum and after that we see if we can take the victory. The first day is important to try to drive well and fast on the fast stages.

 

Q:

Your former team-mate Sébastien Loeb returns. Is it good to have him back?

DS:

I am happy to see him back. It’s nice to see him again. I think he can do a nice rally. I am sure he will fight for a win.

 

Q:

What is your plan now for the year?

DS:

The plan is the same as before, to try to be as fast as possible on the rallies we do. We have less rallies but we will try to enjoy.

 

 

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

 

Present:

Nil Solans

Benito Guerra, Motorsport Italia Srl

 

Q:

Nil, this is the first of your prize drives for winning the FIA Junior WRC last year. The first time with the R5 on gravel, are you fully prepared?

NS:

I am with the Fiesta the first time. We have a good feeling. We had a one-day test in a different place. We develop well and find a good speed. The car is fast and easy to drive.

 

Q:

What do you think of the stages here?

NS:

They are good. They are quite similar to Spain. The stages, the lines and the gravel are similar, but a bit more slippery. I think it will be similar to Spain.

 

Q:

There is a good line-up in WRC 2, what can you achieve?

NS:

It’s difficult to say, but it would be great to finish all the rallies on the podium.

 

Q:

You are the reigning WRC 3 and Junior WRC Champion. We have Tom Williams here who is taking the same path you did; what advice would you have for him?

NS:

Just work, work and try to do the maximum you can do and go flat put and beat everyone!

 

Q:

Benito, I think many people here would have seen the video from the WRC 2 test where your car went up in flames. Fortunately no one was injured but a sad sight indeed, can you tell us how it happened?

BG:

I am really sad about what happened on Monday at the test. I was testing to get the set-up right, to be fast and safe. The times were good. I was trying to compare with Pontus (Tidemand). After that, we were doing a co-driving experience for winners of TV and radio competitions. The last lap, with one of my mechanics, I start to feel a strange odour in the car. It was smelling of burning, but it was not the brakes or the tyres. I went in and the car was smoking. I thought it was the brakes, on the last lap we broke the handbrake and I had the lever in my hands. The pipeline of the brakes was broken and there was fluid in the axle system. The car started to catch fire by the left rear wheel. My team manager said you have to go out of the car and I was walking a few metres from the car and took my helmet off and then I heard a strange boom, not an explosion, and the car was on fire inside. It was so crazy. I have never seen anything like this before and I was really scared. I am glad it had not happened in the stage and we had to stop. It’s very bad for us. 90% of the car was burned. It’s bad for me and the Motorsport Italia team.

 

Q:
What does that mean for the rest of the season?

BG:
Now we have Force Majeure from the FIA. That is the best thing to have at the moment. We will not be competing in México and will start our season in Portugal. The car has to go back to Europe in a container, not airfreight. A new car is needed and we will miss Argentina. I like that rally, I was on the podium last time. I also have a lot of fans in Argentina. So, my first rally will be Portugal and then we have a full season of European rallies, Italy, Germany, Spain, Wales, Turkey and then Australia instead of Argentina.

 

Q:
How will you spend the weekend? We hear you were guest of honour at the León football match last night?

BG:
It was really nice to be the guest of honour and to be in the centre of the pitch and everyone was clapping. I appreciate that there are a lot of things to do now with the sponsors here. The fans want to see me. I will be in the stages and I will be tonight in Guanajuato. I will also be supporting my friends, like Nil (Solans). I will also be supporting the other Mexican drivers and good luck to Tom (Williams) too; welcome to México. Try to have a good weekend.

 

 

FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

 

Present:

Tom Williams

 

Q:
You had a tricky start in Sweden, I guess it’s vastly different here?

TW:
This is a great rally. The atmosphere is like no other, the people, the heat. Sweden was great but I found it hard. It was so high speed. The pace notes were quite a challenge. We have done a lot of    homework and training and improvements for this event.

 

Q:
What are your thoughts on the stages?

TW:
They are similar to when we did the recce for Spain, loose gravel but the stages are so much longer. I need to be physically fit enough to be able to listen to all the pace notes and not cut and go wide. I need to listen to the notes and not lose concentration.  The main objective is to learn all the events and I want to be as competitive as we can. It was a tough start in Sweden and we struggled but we can drop the score and put that behind us.

LEÓN (México): The Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team’s Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul
stormed into a lead of 1.9 seconds after an impressive run through the opening 2.53km Monster
Street Stage of the 15 th Rally Guanajuato México on Thursday evening.
The intricate special wound its way over slippery cobbled streets, around treacherous kerbs and
through narrow silver mining tunnels in the historic city of Guanajuato and preceded a ceremonial
start in front of tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans with the backdrop of the stunning Alhondiga
de Granaditas museum.
The Belgian driver carded a time of 2min 06.7sec and returned to the overnight halt in León ahead
of Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Ott Tänäk, with five-time World Champion Sébastien Ogier in third
place in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC.
Ogier relished the ceremonial start: “It is simply the best ceremonial start of the season. Last year,
it was amazing to be in México City, but we were somehow missing the special atmosphere of
Guanajuato. It’s nice to be back. We also had a tricky stage to drive. It’s always tricky in the narrow
streets, but it was much longer and it was easy to make mistakes. I guess we needed to be a bit
cautious.”
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Kris Meeke won the event last year and held seventh
place after the opening special. Meeke said: “You have to be on your guard on this rally over the
next three days. There are so many obstacles, bridge parapets, rocks on the inside and the outside
and some new tricky parts on stages this year. It’s never dull.”
Finland’s Jari Huttunen spun on a slippery section in the tunnels and dropped 15.6 seconds to
WRC2 rival Pontus Tidemand.
Shakedown
Meeke gave himself a major confidence boost by topping the times in Thursday morning’s 5.31km
Shakedown stage at Llano Grande, near León. Crews were permitted to carry out multiple passes
through the test stage and the Ulsterman clocked the fastest time of 3min 41.0sec on his third run.

WRC series leader Neuville was second, a mere four-tenths of a second behind the C3 WRC, and
Ogier rounded off the top three amongst the 11 World Rally Car drivers.
Elfyn Evans laid down the gauntlet on the first run with a time of 3min 45.9sec and that was
surpassed by Ogier’s second of 3min 44.8sec. But a flying Meeke edged clear of the opposition
with a run of 3min 42.7sec to shave 2.1 seconds off the Frenchman’s temporary advantage.
A cautious, returning Sébastien Loeb was nearly 15 seconds off the pace on his first run but the
nine-time WRC champion was 12 seconds quicker on his second run and slotted into eighth. He
eventually finished in ninth.
Ogier’s third run came within a tenth of a second of Meeke’s quickest time, but the Ulsterman was
not to be denied and he extended his advantage with a flying third run of 3min 41.0sec.
Teemu Suninen’s fourth run moved him into a virtual third with a time of 3min 43.4sec, only for
the Finn to be overtaken soon afterwards by Neuville’s flying third pass of 3min 41.4sec after he
had returned to service to change the settings. Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Ott Tänäk and Jari-Matti
Latvala eventually finished the session in fourth and fifth, but team-mate Esapekka Lappi suffered
broken suspension in the stage.
Tomorrow
Friday is the longest day of this year’s event with a total of nine special stages and 155.15
competitive kilometres. The action gets underway with the first of two runs through the Duarte-
Derramadero (26.05km), El Chocolate (31.44km) and Ortega (17.23km) specials and a short blast
along a street stage in León precedes the early afternoon return to the Rally Campus Service Park.
The three demanding gravel specials are repeated in the afternoon, prior to the now customary
two passes along a purpose-built 2.3km spectator stage at the León Autodrome, where cars tackle
numerous jumps, tight turns and water splashes in pairs in front of a large crowd.
Rally Guanajuato México 2018 – positions after SS1:
1. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 2min 06.7sec
2. Ott Tänäk (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC 2min 08.6sec
3. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC 2min 08.7sec
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 2min 09.2sec
5. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 2min 09.6sec
6. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger-Synnevaag (NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 2min 09.9sec
7. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën C3 WRC 2min 10.2sec
8. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 2min 11.2sec
9. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Daniel Barritt (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC 2min 11.3sec
10. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC 2min 11.4sec

SERVICE FLASH

Date:            Friday, March 9th

Day:             2                                                                                           Flash N°: 1

Service:       A (Rally Campus Service Park)

 

All 29 starters had completed the Monster Guanajuato Street Stage on Thursday evening. Jari Huttunen

blotted his copybook with a spin and the loss of 15 seconds in WRC2 and México’s Ricardo Cordero

dropped 90 seconds to his nearest rivals and plummeted to the bottom the rankings in his Mitsubishi

Lancer Evo X.

 

But there were no major dramas to rectify at the morning service before the start of Friday’s leg of nine

special stages.

 

Russian Radik Shaymiev (Car 34) did not start the rally in his Taif Motorsport Fored Fiesta R5.

Date: Thursday, March 8 th
Day: 1 Flash N°: 1
Special stage: Monster Street Stage GTO Distance: 2.53 km
Weather: Warm and humid
Road conditions: Dry with some slippery patches

Car 1. OGIER/INGRASSIA
“We like to make a show a little bit. It is a special anniversary for me (10th time here).”

Car 4. MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG
90th WRC start – “It’s beautiful here in Mexico. I am sorry I did not do the rally last year, but it’s great to
be back. I hope we can do well this weekend.”

Car 5. NEUVILLE/GILSOUL
“It’s great but it’s going to be a difficult weekend. I am happy to be here. I am going to enjoy it even
though there is going to be a bit of frustration.”

Car 7. LATVALA/ANTTILA
12th time here. “It is always great to be here. I am so happy the start is here in Guanajuato this year.”

Car 8. TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA
“You can see it is fantastic here. I love these people, It is so special. I love this place, Guanajuato.
Everything feels good.”

Car 9. LAPPI/FERM
“Something that I have never seen before. Marvellous spectators at the regroup and here, it’s amazing.
I got a lot of pictures with the girls. It’s going to be tough. The amount of spectators, wow!”

Car 10. MEEKE/NAGLE
“Really slippery and I think my pace was good. The Mexican fans are fabulous. I appreciate their
support.”

Car 31. TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON
“The stage was a bit tricky but I really enjoyed the stage.”

Car 32. HUTTUNEN/LINNAKETO
Made a mistake on the stage and had to correct a half spin and dropped 15.6 seconds to Tidemand in
WRC2. “It’s more slippery than I thought.”

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 2

Special stage: Duarte-Derramadero 1 Distance: 26.05 km

Weather: Warm, windy and sunny, 21-22°C

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“I cannot see a line for him (Neuville) to be honest. It was quite loose to be honest. I could not go much

faster. The guys behind are going to be faster.”

 

Car 2.   EVANS/BARRITT

“There were no big issues. It felt like the tyres were moving around a bit. It’s difficult to judge if there is

tyre wear or not. The grip was low.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“It is hard to know. You try to push hard and then you come out of the lines. I try to find something in the

middle and be aggressive too. It was an okay stage.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

“It was slippery. I tried to do my best obviously. I have to discover a bit. I am not 100% comfortable. We

have to get used to it. At the beginning I struggled a bit.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I lost a little bit at the end. It’sa veyr hard stage on the soft tyres. he first stage, so I am happy.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“I must say the engine was really good at the start and then the power went down. The temperature

was rising but not the same as last year.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“Extremely slippery. Very tough and going slow, so slippery.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“I am not happy. Driving is bad and some small things. Still we are here. It is very slippery all the time

and we do not have the confidence.”

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“I think it’s important to keep it very clean. It was difficult. We are benefitting from the rocks. The first

part was like the beach, so much sand. I even felt the soft tyres starting to move. I’m happy I have a

couple of hard tyres.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“I’m quite surprised by that. A good run but not perfect. In places, I am hesitating, but it’s coming.”

 

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 3

Special stage: El Chocolate 1 Distance: 31.44 km

Weather: Warm and dry at altitude

Road conditions: Dry

 

 

Car 1.   OGIER/INGRASSIA

“Not the best position obviously. We tried our best.”

 

Car 2.   EVANS/BARRITT

“Tough. It was so slippery and so little grip. We had to manage between pushing and being tidy.”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

“I think we lost some time not having the pace. I need to improve.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“Very slippery with the rear of the car. It was everywhere. Not the best feeling to be honest. I tried to

push as hard as I can. Push too hard and you lose the lines.”

 

Car 5.   NEUVILLE/GILSOUL

“I tried my best. I had a better stage than the first one I struggled with the balance of the car. We are not

still on the good settings for these conditions.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“Really nice and I enjoy a lot. I try to drive well and push a little bit. The time is not so bad!”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“We have a problem with the engine temperature, the engine temperature is going too high. We can

control it by losing power. The system is working well and we have to keep it safe. We do not want to

cook the engine. We see what we can do in service.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“Slow, slippery, tricky, hot!”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

“It’s quite long and really slow average speed. I guess we will lose more than a minute. It’s what it is..”

He has a similar engine overheating issue to Latvala.

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“Tricky, I had the hard compounds at the front and the balance was a bit tricky. Let’s see.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It was okay, very slippery I think. We start to destroy our tyres. It was not an easy stage.”

 

Car 36.   SOLANS/IBANEZ SOTOS

Stopped in SS2.

 

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 4

Special stage: Ortega 1 Distance: 17.23 km

Weather: Warm

Road conditions: Dry – stage climbed to over 2,700 metres

 

 

Car 2.   EVANS/BARRITT

Rolled in the stage and started again with the loss of over two and a half minutes. “Sixth gear, we hit a

bad bump and the car flew in the air. We tried to gather it, but we had no power and the back end came

round and flipped us over quite a few times. We are okay.”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

“It has been difficult to find a rhythm and find the good line. Not so good.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“The car is a bit strange over the bumps. I’m still retaively new to the car and I’m uncertain what speed

we can go.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I did not do so well this stage. I am not happy. I coud go a little faster in some places. I could go faster

in the car. I am happy for the team. They helped a lot. We will try to continue this.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“We have the overheating issue on the uphill sections. We have to go into road mode on the uphill

sections. We see what we can do at service.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“I guess we have same car. Not much difference (engine overheating). I try to manage it. We are taking

really good care of it.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

Engine overheating issues like his team-mates.

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“A massive moment over a bump. Tricky, I thought the hard tyre was going to work. But it upsets the

balance. When two softs are like jelly compared to the other ones, it upsets the balance.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It’s okay. The feeling was good. It is quite hard for the tyres. I didn’t imagine the speed bumps would

be so high. At the moment on the plus side, I am happy.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“No dramas. A bit slippery The set-up is good and everything is fine. It was nice to drive. I had the

bumps in my pace notes.”

 

Car 32.   HUTTUNEN/LINNAKETO

Flat tyre in SS2. “We spin one time (in SS4). It was very difficult.”

 

Car 33.   ROVANPERÄ/HALTTUNEN

Retired in SS2. “That’s it for the day, after a big jump in the middle of the road and it broke the

radiator.”

 

Car 35.   BULACIA/MUSSANO

“We have a lot of problems with engine temperature in the car.”

Date: Friday, March 9th

Day: 2 Flash N°: 4

Special stage: Ortega 1 Distance: 17.23 km

Weather: Warm

Road conditions: Dry – stage climbed to over 2,700 metres

 

 

Car 2.   EVANS/BARRITT

Rolled in the stage and started again with the loss of over two and a half minutes. “Sixth gear, we hit a

bad bump and the car flew in the air. We tried to gather it, but we had no power and the back end came

round and flipped us over quite a few times. We are okay.”

 

Car 3.   SUNINEN/MARKKULA

“It has been difficult to find a rhythm and find the good line. Not so good.”

 

Car 4.   MIKKELSEN/JAEGER-SYNNEVAAG

“The car is a bit strange over the bumps. I’m still retaively new to the car and I’m uncertain what speed

we can go.”

 

Car 6.   SORDO/DEL BARRIO

“I did not do so well this stage. I am not happy. I coud go a little faster in some places. I could go faster

in the car. I am happy for the team. They helped a lot. We will try to continue this.”

 

Car 7.   LATVALA/ANTTILA

“We have the overheating issue on the uphill sections. We have to go into road mode on the uphill

sections. We see what we can do at service.”

 

Car 8.   TÄNÄK/JARVEOJA

“I guess we have same car. Not much difference (engine overheating). I try to manage it. We are taking

really good care of it.”

 

Car 9.   LAPPI/FERM

Engine overheating issues like his team-mates.

 

Car 10.   MEEKE/NAGLE

“A massive moment over a bump. Tricky, I thought the hard tyre was going to work. But it upsets the

balance. When two softs are like jelly compared to the other ones, it upsets the balance.”

 

Car 11.   LOEB/ELENA

“It’s okay. The feeling was good. It is quite hard for the tyres. I didn’t imagine the speed bumps would

be so high. At the moment on the plus side, I am happy.”

 

Car 31.   TIDEMAND/ANDERSSON

“No dramas. A bit slippery The set-up is good and everything is fine. It was nice to drive. I had the

bumps in my pace notes.”

 

Car 32.   HUTTUNEN/LINNAKETO

Flat tyre in SS2. “We spin one time (in SS4). It was very difficult.”

 

Car 33.   ROVANPERÄ/HALTTUNEN

Retired in SS2. “That’s it for the day, after a big jump in the middle of the road and it broke the

radiator.”

 

Car 35.   BULACIA/MUSSANO

“We have a lot of problems with engine temperature in the car.”