Ogier/Ingrassia's perfect performance edges them towards third Mexico winWell organized: Mikkelsen/Fløene in third place at the end of day threeMixed feelings for Volkswagen: Setback for Latvala/Anttila who were in second place
Thumbs up for the double world champions and the “youngsters”: Volkswagen is still in the lead with Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia at the Rally Mexico after three of four days. At the third event of the season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the French duo continued to keep up the pace and extended their lead to 1:15.2 minutes. Ogier/Ingrassia are the only duo in Mexico to have finished in the top three on all 18 of the special stages held so far. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) have also shown a strong performance, and are contesting their first joint Rally Mexico in the Polo R WRC. They are third in the overall standings – trailing Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën), in second overall, by just 4.5 seconds. Going into the final three special stages on Sunday – including the longest stage of the rally year so far, the 55.82-kilometre “Guanajuatito” - they are within striking distance of possibly seizing second place.
However, day three of the rally ended earlier than expected for Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), who will start under Rally 2 regulations on Sunday. The Volkswagen duo were in second place overall when they hit a bank with the rear of their Polo R WRC on the twelfth special stage of the Rally Mexico, damaging the suspension. As a result, the runners-up of last year's world championship, who were the only ones able to keep up with the pace of Ogier/Ingrassia at that point, were forced to retire. The Volkswagen mechanics repaired their World Rally Car so that they can restart the rally on Sunday.
Quotes, day 3 Rally Mexico
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1“From a driving perspective, this weekend is definitely one of the best of my career, I'm very happy with my performance. Julien and I have had another perfect day and haven't made any mistakes. We kept putting pressure on the others. While I didn't need to continue taking risks after Jari-Matti Latvala retired, the job is far from done. I said previously that a win here was highly unlikely unless my rivals had a bad weekend – and now it looks like it might actually happen. But we still have the longest and most challenging stage of the rally ahead of us. I can promise you this: Despite our lead, we won't be making the mistake of shifting down a few gears. The danger of losing focus would be too great.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2“If you want to win, you have to put the leader under pressure. But I knew that I couldn't risk everything. I had a good rhythm on the twelfth stage. There was a pothole on the inside of a bend and I came off the line slightly to avoid it, and I ended up on loose ground in this really narrow section. I hit a bank with the rear left of the car and damaged my suspension. I had hoped that we would be able to repair it at the end of the stage, but unfortunately there was nothing we could do.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9“We're sticking to our plan and aren't changing it: Our aim is to drive at our own rhythm, stay out of trouble and to reach the finish of each special stage without incident. We don't have much experience of Mexico and many of the stages are new to us. Which is why the first pass of the special stages in the morning wasn't as good as the pass in the afternoon. We left room for manoeuvre and waited until the afternoon loop to attack a bit more. I'm very happy with how the rally is going for us. So far, so good – tomorrow will be another hard day for us, with tricky special stages. But even then we need to stick to our plan for the rally.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director“Volkswagen has experienced a day of mixed feelings at the Rally Mexico. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia demonstrated their superior class once again, and extended their lead without resistance. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene also organized the day and the special stages perfectly and are on course to finish on the podium, and are even within reach of second place. Unfortunately, we also suffered a setback here today. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila damaged their car trying to put their team-mates under pressure, and forfeited their chance of winning. Our mechanics worked extremely hard to give them a perfect Polo R WRC so that they can start tomorrow and battle for points in the manufacturer's world championship.”
And then there was ...
... the “Fiesta Mexicana”. On Saturday evening at the Rally Mexico, Volkswagen Mexico traditionally invites the rally team of Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen to a Mexican evening. The evening, which the Volkswagen mechanics and engineers always look forward to attending, is a fantastic event that is part of a rally week organized perfectly by the Mexican importer. From the presence in the service park that is clearly visible, to looking after the guests on the special stages, the Volkswagen Mexico commitment is exemplary worldwide. Our “thanks” go to our colleagues!