Loeb secures 2nd victory of season at WRC Rally Mexico
2012-03-12 01:11:14 Author: admin Source:
Loeb Citroen Ford Volkswagen PoloR
The 3rd Round of the World Rally Championship at Mexico concluded with reigning WRC Champion Sebastian Loeb triumphant over team mate Mikko Hirvonen and Ford WRT's Petter Solberg. Loeb's sixth victory at Guanajuato represented the Frenchman's 2nd of the season and 69th of his career, increasing his grip in the WRC Drivers' standings by 7 points to Hirvonen; 39 to 32 points. Rally Mexico featured 22 special stages and 380 timed kilometres around Leon, a city with a population of 1.3 million. The start at Guanajuato, a city that is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, saw 65,000 enthusiasts attend the ceremonial processions.
After a rather relaxed final leg and a controlled drive through the last four stages on Sunday, Loeb's huge margin lead from the first two legs simply gave him the opportunity to cruise to the Rally Mexico win. “I am very happy. I always win here! It is a great result for the team as well, with Mikko (Hirvonen) finishing second, a one-two for us.”
Ford WRT faced an up and down rally as Solberg (above) claimed third place and first driver Jari-Matti Latvala (above right) retired from an accident. Latvala was on course for third and quickest in eight special stages, but the Finn went off the road at Guanajuatito when he rolled out of the path, following a distraction caused by Evgeny Novikov's crash. Solberg, who was 20-second behind his team mate, inherited third after Latvala retired. Although Latvala was able to limp to the stage finish, damage to the roll cage of his Fiesta WRC was too severe to the extent he was unable to tackle the final two stages of the event, forcing his second retirement of the season. "I first thought the car was on the road and I made a movement to avoid it and my car went off and rolled. It took a lot to get it back on the road,” Latvala said.
Solberg salvaged some pride for Ford by garnering the final place on the podium. The Norwegian also posted quick times at the Leon stages, including the fastest run in the Power Stage. With the third place, Solberg consolidated third in the drivers standings, while Latvala dropped to fourth.
The Rally Mexico was an eye-opener for Volkswagen as Sebastien Ogier captured the first points for the team. Ogier's eighth place which yielded four precious points marked a successful test run and provided the factory squad a valuable experience for fielding the Polo R WRC from 2013 on. “It’s fantastic to drive past the fans through the narrow alleys and tunnels. It’s definitely the best starting stage on the whole calendar,” Ogier beamed.
Other worthy finishers included Mads Ostberg who survived a puncture on Guanajuatito to finish a strong fourth, with Ott Tanak in fifth and former Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah sixth. Seventh through ninth were; Armindo Araujo for WRC Team MINI Portugal, then Ogier and American rally driver Ken Block.
Next Rally event takes us to Rally Portugal from 29 March - 1 April.
1 S. LOEB 4:15:32.7
2 M. HIRVONEN +42.4
3 P. SOLBERG +2:11.4
4 M. ØSTBERG +4:51.5
5 O. TÄNAK +5:02.6
6 N. AL-ATTIYAH +6:41.4
7 A. ARAÚJO +12:46.9
8 S. OGIER +14:57.8
9 K. BLOCK +22:26.8
10 R. TRIVINO +23:30.7
1. Sebastien Loeb 39
2. Mikko Hirvonen 32
3. Petter Solberg 29
4. Jari-Matti Latvala 26
5. Evgeny Novikov 21
6. Dani Sordo 18
7. Mads Ostberg 15
8. Francois Delecour 8
9. Henning Solberg 6
10. Pierre Campana 6
1. Citroen Total World Rally Team 65
2. Ford World Rally Team 55
3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 28
4. MINI WRC Team 26
5. Qatar World Rally Team 8
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