Citroen's Sebastien Loeb
did the business again in Mexico this weekend to maintain an unbeaten run on the Leon-based event that stretches right back to 2006.
Loeb moved into the lead on Friday afternoon and after that was never really troubled, gradually building up a cushion over his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen. Seb ended the opening day 11.2 seconds ahead and he proceeded to extend that margin on Saturday to go into the final leg today 36.2 seconds in front. Although the final day included the long 54.30 km Guanajuatito test, Loeb – unlike some of his rivals – negotiated it with no problems and he eventually claimed his sixth Mexico win in succession by a dominant 42.4 seconds. He also finished second in the Power Stage as well to claim two extra bonus points.
“I am very happy,” said Loeb. “I always win here! It is a great result for the team as well, with Mikko finishing second, a one-two for us.”
Hirvonen was also pleased with the result, and while he wasn't able to challenge for the win, it was still a very solid performance on his first outing with the DS3 WRC on gravel. Indeed he kept Loeb honest initially on day 1 and he also posted two quickest stage times, which bodes well for the future: “I am really happy,” Hirvonen reflected. "It was my first rally on gravel with this car. My pace was very good against Sebastien so I am happy!”
Ford's Petter Solberg
meanwhile took the final place on the podium, inheriting the position near the end, when team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala
rolled in SS22. All-in-all it was a pretty frustrating weekend for the 'Blue Oval'.
Solberg made a great start, setting the pace in the qualifying stage on Thursday and topping the times in the Guanajuato Street Stage, SS1. However two punctures on Friday morning pretty much ended his hopes of victory there and then.
Latvala initially ran with the Citroens after that in the sister car and was leading until he hit a rock in SS5 and broke the front left suspension arm. That dropped the Finn down to eighth and although he recovered to third on day two, despite hitting another rock, his luck ran out today. Distracted by Evgeny Novikov's accident he rolled it and the damage to the roll cage meant he was not allowed to start SS23.
Ford will though take comfort from the speed of the Fiesta and Petter's win in the Power Stage was also a boost of sorts: “I am pleased with the end result [and third place]. But I am still disappointed with the four punctures and the brake problem,” Solberg commented.
Behind, Mads Ostberg
hung on to take fourth position, ahead of fellow Ford Fiesta runner Ott Tanak, despite losing 2 minutes today in SS22 with a puncture: “It has had its up and downs. We had a puncture today on the absolutely worst stage we could. It was a little bit tricky but we managed to go to the end and it did not affect the result, so that was good,” said the Norwegian.