Part-time Ogier wins Wins Mexico to Lead WRC!

Sébastien Ogier started the second rally of his - part-time - 2023 campaign, with a record seventh victory in Guanajuato Rally Mexico. After opening out a 35.8sec advantage going into the final leg, the Frenchman made it a relatively straightforward Sunday for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, safely negotiating the remaining four speed tests and then collecting maximum bonus points from the Wolf Power Stage, to eventually finish 27.5sec clear of Thierry Neuville at the event where he made his FIA World Rally Championship debut in 2008.

Neuville's tenacity behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20 N kept fans on the edge of their seats as he battled relentlessly with Ogier's Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans. Having started the day 5.3sec in arrears, Neuville closed in on the Welshman, who was impeded by a bent suspension arm. The Belgian's perseverance paid off as he overtook his rival in the finale, claiming second overall by just four-tenths of a second and providing an exhilarating end to the four-day international. Kalle Rovanperä struggled to match the pace of the frontrunning trio and settled for a lonely fourth overall in his Toyota, but the defending champion continued to pull further away from Hyundai's Dani Sordo, who finished over one minute further back in fifth.

The rough gravel terrain took its toll on several leading Rally1 crews including Esapekka Lappi who had made the early running with some stunning times in his Hyundai, only to go off and collect a telegraph pole which put paid to his challenge, although the amiable Finn accepted the incident with commendable pragmatism. But the misfortunes affecting R1 crews enabled Gus Greensmith to score a great sixth overall in his Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 closely followed by fellow WRC-2 worriers Emil Lindholm and Oliver Solberg.

Ninth overall was the best Ott Tänak could manage after turbocharger failure cost the M-Sport Ford Puma driver more than 14 minutes on Friday morning, while WRC2 star Kajetan Kajetanowicz closed out the top 10.

After the rally a delighted Ogier commented: "The car was great this weekend and it was a faultless rally for us and the team. As I am doing the next rally, it's important to start first on the road there and it was important to get the points for the team as well", he added, referencing the next round of the championship Rally Croatia, asphalt based and centered in the capital city of this picturesque country, Zagreb 20 - 23 April. Ominously, Ogier now leads the championship by 3 points with the chasing pack comprising of; Thierry Neuville, Kalle Rovanpera, Ott Tanak and Elfyn Evans cover by a mere 12 points, but who'd bet against Ogier extending his slender lead?

20th March, 2023