Ogier takes championship lead with Mexico win

Stephen Brunsdon
This article first appeared on autosport.com

Sebastien Ogier stayed out of trouble to reclaim the World Rally Championship points lead with a dominant victory on Rally Mexico, beating Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke.

Despite the disadvantage of running second on the road on both Friday and Saturday, the M-Sport driver put in a series of blistering stage times to remain within striking distance of early rally leader Sordo and the Citroens of Meeke and series returnee Sebastien Loeb.

Sordo won two stages on Friday to lead the event from Meeke, but Loeb marked his first WRC round since Monte Carlo 2015 by usurping the Spaniard on Saturday morning with two stage victories of his own.

Both Sordo and Loeb suffered front-left punctures on Saturday afternoon, which allowed Ogier to hit the front.

From then on, Ogier took four stage wins to extend his lead over Meeke, who spun three times before rolling on SS20, with the world champion going on to claim his second win of the season.

Having led the opening leg, Sordo lost time to Loeb due to gambling on the softer tyre on Saturday morning.

He was primed to set a faster time than the nine-time world champion on SS14 (Guanajuatito 2) before hitting a rock early in the stage and losing 30 seconds.

Loeb hit a similarly-sized stone on the same pass and lost more than two minutes when he and co-driver Daniel Elena stopped to change a wheel.

2017 Rally Mexico victor Meeke would have challenged Ogier more were it not for two spins in successive stages (SS7 and SS8), the latter on a narrow piece of road which forced the Northern Irishman to drive the wrong way to rotate the car.

A further half-roll on SS20 after sliding on a cobbled hairpin cost Meeke another 45 seconds, dropping him behind Sordo to third.

Aside from Sordo’s podium, Hyundai endured a frustrating event, not least for lead driver Thierry Neuville.

The Belgian, who won the previous round in Sweden, suffered a loss of fuel pressure at the start of the Leon Street Stage on Friday which cut the power to his i20.

The problem was compounded with a power steering failure on SS8 (Ortega 2) and another engine cut-out on the opening pass on Saturday morning (Guanajuatito 1).

Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen lacked speed all rally and was never in contention. The Norwegian finished fourth ahead of Loeb, while Neuville recovered to finish sixth.

Toyota suffered engine overheating caused by the Yaris WRC’s inability to take in air in the high altitude, which left Ott Tanak, Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi starved of outright power.

Lappi had “probably the slowest crash I’ve ever had” on SS7 while Latvala’s alternator failed on the road section before SS9.

Tanak had been primed for an assault on the podium places on Saturday morning but suffered a turbo failure after SS11.

The Estonian however returned on Sunday and adopted the same Power Stage tactics as Ogier did in Sweden by arriving late for the stage, copping a penalty.

The decision paid off for Tanak, who took the stage win from Ogier to claim five points, while Neuville, who also arrived late, could only manage fourth.

Pontus Tidemand took WRC2 honours at a canter by beating Brit Gus Greensmith by over six minutes and claiming a superb seventh place overall.

Leading finishers

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 3h53m58.0s
2 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 1m13.6s
3 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 1m29.2s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 1m48.4s
5 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 2m34.6s
6 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 5m03.0s
7 Pontus Tidemand, J.Andersson Skoda Motorsport Skoda 10m34.7s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 15m47.1s
9 Gus Greensmith, C.Parry   Ford 17m19.3s
10 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 31m07.8s
11 Teemu Suninen, M.Markkula M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 33m16.3s
12 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 58m22.8s

 

Recent news

Column

Who I have my money on for the BTCC title

By Matt James

Rallying News

Citroen: Meeke was 'not under control'

Citroen World Rally team principal Pierre Budar felt Kris Meeke was out of control and left...

Karting: The secrets to PF International

As part of our special investigation into the world of karting, we got former karting star and...

Racing News

BTCC driver Moffat quits TCR UK

British Touring Car Championship driver Aiden Moffat has exited the TCR UK championship, with...

Rallying News

Citroen: C3 design saved Meeke in crash

Citroen team principal Pierre Budar believes the design of the manufacturer's C3 World Rally...

Rallying News

Triple ERC champion makes WRC2 move

Reigning three-time European Rally champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz will move into the World Rally...

Taking on the European karting scene

The international karting paddock has witnessed its fair share of talented British drivers in...

Column

Silverstone's rallycross adventure

By Matt James

Rallying News

Electric Mitsubishi rally car being developed

Swedish outfit Mpart has started developing an electric Mitsubishi rally car built around R5...

Rallying News

New WRC GB route a missed opportunity - Evans

Last year's Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans feels the revamped route for Wales' 2018 World Rally...

Rallying News

Rally seeding rules relaxed

Two-wheel drive and historic rally cars will be able to run first on the road on rally events...

Rallying News

MN Road Rally legends to attend Speed and Rally Show forum

Legends of the Motoring News Road Rally Championship will attend a forum at this weekend’s...

Rallying News

New push to get privateers back in WRC

World Rally Championship organisers are mounting a new push to get privateers back in the series'...

Rallying News

Toyota rules out team orders to boost Tanak

Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen has ruled out making Ott Tanak a clear number one and imposing...

Exploring karting's family tree

It’s commonly defined by professional racing drivers as the purest form of motorsport. It’s...

Rallying News

Kelly to make surprise Killarney return

Manus Kelly will make a surprise visit to the International Rally of the Lakes in Killarney...

Rallying News

Rally GB to unveil major route revamp

A significantly different route for Rally GB 2018, Britain's World Rally Championship round,...

Rallying News

Rovanpera hospitalised after Argentina crash

Kalle Rovanpera was hospitalised for checks after crashing out of the Rally Argentina WRC2 lead...

Rallying News

Ford sets out conditions for works RX return

Ford wants to see how the future of rallycross develops amid changes in America and plans for...

Racing News

Ingram takes victory in Donington Race 2

Tom Ingram became the first two-time winner in this season's British Touring Car Championship...

Racing News

Cook claims maiden BTCC victory

Josh Cook has broken his victory duck in the British Touring Car Championship, taking his Power...

Racing News

Cook takes first BTCC pole at Donington Park

Josh Cook has taken his maiden British Touring Car Championship pole position after heading...

1 2 3 52

More national news, in-depth race reports and analysis. Subscribe to the Motorsport News paper today.

What’s On

This weekend

No Events

Later

No Events

This weekend

No Events

Later

No Events

X