S\u00e9bastien Ogier Wins Shortened WRC Rally Mexico
Sébastien Ogier scored a record-tying sixth WRC Rally Guanajuato Mexico victory Saturday night after the event was brought to an early conclusion.
The rally ended a day early in the face of fast-changing travel restrictions connected with the global COVID-19 virus outbreak.
After snatching the lead Friday morning, the Frenchman kept his Toyota Yaris on the road in sizzling hot conditions. As many of his rivals hit trouble, Ogier was level-headed and ended with a 27.8 second advantage over Hyundai i20 driver Ott Tänak.
In doing so, he claimed his first victory for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team and equaled the six victories achieved by fellow countryman and nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb.
“A victory is a victory, of course, but this one feels different from any other. I want to thank my team; they have done a fantastic job,” Ogier said after moving to the top of the FIA World Rally Championship standings after three rounds.
Tänak was left to wonder what could have been. Had it not been for rear suspension damage when he hit a wall on Friday morning, he could have had a shot at the win.
After losing 40 seconds, the Estonian delivered an impressive comeback drive, leapfrogging Teemu Suninen on Saturday afternoon for a gutsy second place.
Suninen was 10.1 seconds farther back, picking up valuable championship points after a difficult weekend for the M-Sport Ford team. His teammate Esapekka Lappi retired in dramatic fashion when his Fiesta became engulfed in flames on Friday.
“Actually, it’s more than I hoped for at this rally. We were able to have a consistent pace and stayed away from problems. At the end, we lost one brake, which basically stopped the fight. Even without those issues, I don’t think I would have beaten Ott,” he said.
Elfyn Evans was fourth, 35.5sec adrift of the podium finishers in another Yaris. The championship leader ahead of the rally was unable to match the pace of the leaders as he struggled with road cleaning duties on Friday.
He ended 1:07.10 seconds ahead of teammate Kalle Rovanperä, who gained more valuable experience on his gravel debut in a Yaris.
Thierry Neuville had a disappointing weekend. Mechanical gremlins forced him out on Friday, but he returned to action on Saturday and claimed five stage victories in his i20 en route to finishing 16th.
The WRC not only shortened the Mexico rally: On Friday it was announced that the Rally Argentina event, originally set for April 23-26, has already been postponed. No new race date was given.
“We regret the postponement and all parties will work closely together to identify a potential new date for the event,” said WRC promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla.
The next scheduled event on the WRC calendar is May 21-24 in Portugal.
WRC Rally Mexico Results
1 RC1 Sébastien Ogier, J. Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota
2 RC1 Ott Tänak, M. Järveoja, Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai
3 RC1 Teemu Suninen, J. Lehtinen, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford
4 RC1 Elfyn Evans, S. Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota
5 RC1 Kalle Rovanpera, J. Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota
6 WRC2 Pontus Tidemand, P. Barth, Toksport WRT Skoda
7 WRC2 Nikolay Gryazin, Y. Fedorov, Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai
8 WRC3 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson, G. Bernacchini, Marco Bulacia Wilkinson Citroen
9 RC1 Gus Greensmith, E. Edmondson, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford
10 WRC2 Ole-Christian Veiby, J. Andersson, Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai
11 WRC3 Emilio Fernandez, R. Garcia, Toksport WRT Skoda
12 WRC3 Ricardo Trivino, M. Marti, Ricardo Trivino Bujalil Skoda
13 RC2 Ricardo Cordero Jr., M.H. Valdez, Ricardo Cordero Citroen
14 WRC3 Kajetan Kajetanowicz, M. Szczepaniak, Kajetan Kajetanowicz Skoda
15 RC2 John Coyne, S. Joyce, John Coyne Ford
16 RC1 Thierry Neuville, N. Gilsoul, Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai
17 RC5 Gerardo Rejon Basanez, M. Pimentel, Gerardo Rejon Basanez Renault
18 NAT2 Enrique Meza Reynoso, C.J. Coronel, Enrique Jose Meza Reynoso Ford
19 NAT4 Serge Brachet, F. Suberville, Serge Brachet Mitsubishi
20 WRC3 Benito Guerra, D. Cue, Benito Guerra Skoda
21 NAT2 Alejandro Sanchez, G.M. Mulas, Alejandro Mauro Sanchez Ford
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