Jari-Matti Latvala ended team mate Sebastien Ogier‘s perfect start to the WRC season with a convincing victory at Rally Guanajuato Mexico. After a disastrous opening two rounds in which he failed to score, Latvala controlled the first gravel round of the season to secure his 16th career victory on hot and dusty mountain roads near León.
Volkswagen Motorsport equaled its own record with twelve wins in a row. This marks the second time the manufacturer has achieved the longest winning run in the history of the World Rally Championship. Volkswagen had previously completed a dozen back-to-back victories with the Polo R WRC between the 2013 Rally Australia and the 2014 Rally Finland.
Latvala led Ogier, starting his 100th WRC round, by 1min 05.0sec after almost 400km of white knuckle driving, wrecking the world champion’s unblemished start to the campaign after maximum scores in Monte-Carlo and Sweden.
Latvala laid the groundwork with a faultless performance on the dirt speed tests. The Finn enjoyed a low start position and benefited from roads cleaned of gravel by those ahead to leave a faster line. He won all 10 loose surface stages over those two days and measured his pace through the final two tests, which included the 80km Guanajuato, the longest in the WRC since 1986.
“This is a fightback and it’s a fantastic feeling. I had such a difficult start to the season with two rallies and zero points. My mind wasn’t so good and this hasn’t been a strong rally for me in the past, but I drove with no problems,” said Latvala.
Facing the worst of the conditions as road opener for two full days, Ogier was resigned to his fate by Saturday afternoon. He recognized he had no chance of catching his colleague and settled for a strong haul of points in his quest for a fourth title, adding a maximum three bonus points by winning the final live TV Power Stage.
Dani Sordo completed the podium, Hyundai‘s third consecutive top three finish with its new i20 car. The Spaniard finished 3min 37.9sec behind Latvala, despite a broken fan and brake problems. Mads Østberg claimed fourth in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS to climb to second in the drivers’ standings behind Ogier. The Norwegian was penalized for a jump start and had a gearshift problem early in the event but headed New Zealand’s Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon by 46.2sec.
Ott Tänak completed the top six in another Fiesta RS, with Martin Prokop, Lorenzo Bertelli, WRC 2 winner Teemu Suninen and Valeriy Gorban filling the leaderboard. Andreas Mikkelsen did not restart after crashing, joining Thierry Neuville on the sidelines after the Belgian suffered a heavy accident.
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Mexico – Final Results:
01. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen, 4h 25m 57.4s
02. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 1m 05.0s
03. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 3m 37.9s
04. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 5m 36.4s
05. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai,+ 6m 22.6s
06. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 9m 59.5s
07. Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ), Ford, + 12m 58.5s
08. Lorenzo Bertelli/Simone Scattolin(I/I), Ford, + 14m 09.6s
09. Teemu Suninen/MikkoMarkkula (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 18m 01.8s
10. Valery Gorban/Volodymyr Korsia (UA/UA), Mini, + 32m 37.3s
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