Race Reviews

Our WRC Rally Mexico Review

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After an exciting WRC Rally Mexico we take a team-by-team look at how the WRC guys fared.

Volkswagen

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Sébastien Ogier:
“Mexico really is a fantastic country for us! I like the rally, and it seems to like me. I picked up my first win as a junior here back in 2008 and took overall victory with Volkswagen last year – and now here I am, back on the top step of the podium. It is a fantastic feeling. Our entire team did a sensational job all weekend, and the Polo R WRC was once again super reliable and super quick in extreme conditions. I was hungry for this win after my mistake in Sweden! That is why Julien and I refrained from taking any risks on the final day. We really wanted to get this win under our belts. And it goes without saying that I also wanted to get my hands on the Power Stage points. Although we will now have to act as street sweepers for the opposition at the next round in Portugal, the World Championship points are more important than anything else.”.

Our View:
Again, simply dominating performance – they were untouchable and appeared to have the only car that could really stand up to the tough Mexico conditions.  It is hard to see them losing at all this year.  Latvala has stepped up his performances this year and Ogier is simply untouchable.

Citroen

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Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal):

“Obviously, it’s a disappointing result when you know the potential of our team, the Citroën DS3 WRCs and our crews. Once again Mads showed, however, that he was capable of matching the best drivers. He was one of the quickest drivers throughout the weekend. He is improving consistently and quickly, which is highly encouraging for the next few events. As regards Kris, obviously it was tough for him competing in such a difficult rally for the first time. We knew our crews were relatively inexperienced. We’ve probably paid the price for that today, but that takes nothing away from their potential.”

Our View:
They were unlucky not to get a podium with Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg both looking like the could stand there but the rough conditions took their toll on the DS3.  Overall a disappointing result but the pace was what we expected.

M-Sport

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Elfyn Evans (4th) said:

“I certainly didn’t come here expecting to finish fourth – simply to finish would have been an achievement given how little experience we have on these kinds of stages and how many of the top drivers were caught out!
 
“We put in some strong performances on some individual stages and identified a few areas for improvement as the weekend went on. It’s all part of the learning curve and we’re really looking forward to Portugal.”

Our View:
A great rally for rookie Elfyn Evans with a fourth place, repaying Malcom Wilson’s faith in him.  He will only get better with experience.   While another tough rally for Mikko Hirvonen he does have pace to challenge with Citroen.  M-Sport are really hamstrung by funding for development – it would seem

Hyundai

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Thierry Neuville:

“We are incredibly happy to have scored this podium result today and especially in a rally as demanding as Mexico. We kept our heads down and focused on delivering the best results we could in each stage without going over the limit. Our objective has always been just to bring the car home and finish the rally, so to take a podium is a really nice bonus for the team, who have worked so hard. Having the first-hand experience of rally competition is so valuable for the team and the data we have gathered this weekend will be extremely useful in further development of the Hyundai i20 WRC and the team overall. We are delighted with this result and to have exceeded our targets. It’s been a real team effort and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, even if there is much more to come.”

Our View:
We possibly thought that Hyundai would be up on the podium earlier than this and not so far off Volkswagen but it was a massive achievement to jump on the podium – something they couldn’t their first time around.  Neuville rallied well while Atkinson was hampered some 60m into the rally – but first drivers points and a podium for the i20 is a great reason to celebrate.

Other major runners

Martin Prokop

Our View:
A strong rally from Martin – for his non-manufacturer status, he is developing well

Robert Kubica

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“It has been a very disappointing rally for me. Up until the first incident on Friday, I felt that our pace was very good. I was driving well, but we made a small mistake on the super special which set us back. It was a case of low concentration and I was caught out on the slippery Tarmac into the first corner. 
 
“Unfortunately, we made another mistake today. It was a combination of a number of factors that finished our rally. We went slightly too fast into a corner over a crest but I also think that the pacenotes were not as strong as they could have been through that section. Since it was so slippery there was no margin for error, and no possibility to prevent the roll. The road was very narrow and we hit a small block on the side of the stage – rolling the car and ending up on the roof.”

Our View:Fast but ultimately fragile Kubica, he will need to slow up a bit and get to the end of a rally without rolling the car.  Once he can do that, I think we will see great things.  Whether he can make it there, time will tell.

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By Sam Tickell, with media releases March  2014

Photos courtesy of their respective teams.

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