A tough Rally Mexico for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team ended on a high with the team winning all three of the stages on the final day. Jari-Matti Latvala took the first fastest time as he secured eighth overall, before Ott Tänak scored two more stage wins, including on the rally-ending Power Stage to take home five bonus points.
Latvala had to restart under Rally 2 rules on Saturday after a technical issue on Friday evening, but despite a time penalty, he managed to get back into the points positions and finish eighth overall. He won the day’s first stage, Alfaro, by 9.7 seconds. He was then second on both runs over Las Minas, scoring four bonus points on the Power Stage. On his first time competing in Mexico, Esapekka Lappi was forced to retire on Friday after going off the road, but restarted and gained valuable experience on his way to 11th overall.
Tänak restarted this morning with the aim of scoring points in the Power Stage, after a mechanical fault had forced him out of the fight for the rally win. Having already won the first pass of Las Minas, he used maximum effort to get as good a result as possible from the Power Stage. He went quickest to claim five bonus points, leading Latvala by 1.3 seconds in a one-two for the Toyota Yaris WRC.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal) “Today has been a positive way to end a difficult weekend. To win all three stages was a big bonus for us and we were happy that it worked out on the Power Stage for Ott to score some important points. It was good to see that his car was performing as it should: the team did a good job to fix the problem yesterday. I was also pleased to see Jari-Matti also do some good times today and that he was enjoying the driving. It was obviously disappointing to have the technical issues earlier in the weekend but to score good points today has made everyone happy and we are looking forward to the next event.”
Jari-Matti Latvala : “I had a fantastic feeling this morning and the car felt very good. We had a really big push and won the first stage. Then the second stage was also really good, even though we had to save the tyres a bit. In the Power Stage I gave it everything and I’m really happy to finish second fastest with my road position. It has been a difficult weekend but to retire from one day and still come back and score eight points is good. Overall I know that the car performance is there, and now I am starting to find the performance in myself.”
Ott Tänak : “Today we were putting everything on the Power Stage. We had nothing to lose and just wanted to get these five points. The car was performing really well and I felt really comfortable in the car so I could give an extra push. Of course I’m not happy with the overall result as we were in contention for the win, but we still have a long season ahead of us and the performance side has been good. It was my first time on gravel in the car, we learned a lot and we can see many places where we can improve.”
Esapekka Lappi : “Today we were concentrating on the Power Stage, so in the first two stages we just wanted to get through them, check the pace-notes and save the tyres. It has been a tough weekend for us. The highlight has actually been the spectator stages. In our pre-event test we did some work on a go-kart track and we managed to find some new things which seem to have worked, because last evening I almost did the fastest time on the street stage. Previously we had been losing a lot of time in those. We also gained a lot of experience and data, which we can use to improve next year.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY MEXICO
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3h54m08.0s
2 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m03.6s
3 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m19.2s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m38.4s
5 Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroen C3 WRC) +2m24.6s
6 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +9m03.0s
7 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +10m24.7s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +15m37.1s
9 Gus Greensmith/Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +17m09.3s
10 Pedro Heller/Pablo Olmos (Ford Fiesta R5) +24m18.1s
11 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30m57.8s
14 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1h02m42.8s
(Results as of 17:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Round four is the Tour de Corse on April 5-8. The classic event on the French island of Corsica is famous for its narrow and twisty asphalt stages, which give it the nickname ‘The Rally of 10,000 Corners’. Mountainous stages lined by rock faces on one side and steep drops on the other, numerous surface changes and long stages provide a major test for the drivers.