Ford driver Markko Martin drove a perfect rally today [Sunday] to take victory just ahead of young team-mate Francois Duval in second, the pair recording Ford's first one-two finish since the Cyprus Rally in 2000.

Martin was delighted with the result, and the Estonian is now joint first in the drivers' championship, both he and Sebastien Loeb tied on 20 points.

This result also means that Ford lead the constructors' championship, 40 points to Citroen's 30.

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"It's been a tremendous weekend for us and Ford," noted Martin, "We've all worked hard as a team and we deserve this result. To lead the manufacturers' championship by such a margin is fantastic. We've had a few small problems but we've always kept on top of them. It has been a difficult event and hard for the cars but that makes victory all the better. My only mistake was a spin on the first day. Apart from that we've stayed to our plan and kept out of trouble. There was no point in trying to drive too quickly. Too many others did that and hit problems. It was necessary to be patient."

"Ford's last 1-2 was in Cyprus in 2000 and, like Mexico, that was achieved on a rally appearing in the championship for the first time," added team boss, Malcolm Wilson, "It's very special to achieve a 1-2 in the modern era of the sport and even more fitting that we should gain this result on M-Sport's 100th rally with Ford. It was a far more difficult event than we predicted but the reliability of the Focus has shone through again. Both Markko and Francois drove superbly. Our target for 2004 was for Markko to win the drivers' championship but the way that Francois is developing as a driver has put us in a strong position in the manufacturers' series."

Duval ended the event 42.5 seconds behind Martin, and was more than pleased with second, his best result to date on a WRC event.

"It's the first time I have finished second on a world rally and I'm so happy," he commented, "I have had a perfect car for three days, it gave me no worries at all. It's like new and all the team have really had to do is to fit a new bumper. The rally was a new event for everyone and it's not been an easy weekend. We were under no pressure today and would have been happy to have finished third. But when Carlos crashed and we moved into second it completed a great three days. To finish first and second is the kind of result that teams dream of but to do it on a rally which is new to everyone makes it even more special."

Citroen's Carlos Sainz was the only challenger to the Ford duo on the final leg. However, his chances ended midway though the third stage when his brakes failed and the Spaniard rolled. It took more than a minute to push his car back onto its wheels and he had to settle for third.

"Today, we were under a bit of pressure," revealed Sainz, "being the only Xsara left in the race, we absolutely had to finish the rally. However, we tried hard, and we believed we could win, before making a small mistake. Then it was a case of collecting six points, important both for Citroen and for us. This rally will remain in my memory, both due to the non-sporting events of which everyone is aware, but also because it has been a very well organised FIA WRC round, which I enjoyed getting to know."

Petter Solberg meanwhile recovered superbly from his five-minute penalty at the end of the opening leg to climb back to fourth, moving ahead of Subaru team-mate Mikko Hirvonen on the penultimate stage.

"To lose 5 minutes 40 seconds on Friday, but still finish in fourth place is a pretty incredible result I think and I'm very happy," said the 2003 world rally champion, "We know where we could have been if it wasn't for that penalty, but that's just how it is sometimes. I'm feeling very positive about the way the new car felt to drive. It's even better than I had expected, a real improvement, and I think the number of stage wins has proved how good it is. I've really enjoyed this new event, the stages were fantastic and apart from the incident on Friday I've had really good fun here in Mexico."

Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm set two fastest times today to retain his overnight sixth while amateur Jussi Valimaki and Gilles Panizzi completed the drivers' points-scorers.

"This has been far from an easy rally for me and we've had our share of problems," reflected Gronholm. "But I think everybody knows now which directions we have to work in, and the car has demonstrated that it is quick. Today was just a question of reaching the finish, and to be four points behind the championship leader with a new car at this stage of the season is not too bad. I'm looking forward to the next rally, in New Zealand, as we should have some new parts on the car that will make us even more competitive."

Team-mate Harri Rovanpera meanwhile climbed back to tenth in the sister Peugeot 307 WRC after suspension problems yesterday. He took the final manufacturers' point.

"This was my first rally in the 307 WRC, and I was still getting used to it during the first day," said Harri. "As time went on I was able to find a rhythm and grow in confidence with the car. Unfortunately, a steering arm broke yesterday, which was not my fault, and we dropped a lot of time. But at least we were able to score a point and build up more experience of the car which will be very useful for the future."

Of the rest Daniel Sola won the Production Car World Rally Championship category, the Mitsubishi driver 2 minutes up on Toshi Arai, who was second in class, while Niall McShea completed the PCWRC podium.

In total eight cars finished in the production car class, and overall 26 made it to the finish, 54 having took part in the ceremonial start on Thursday. There were only two works retirements, 'Gigi' Galli and Sebastien Loeb, both retiring yesterday, the former with suspension woes, while the latter damaged the sump after a heavy landing.

Round four of the 2004 FIA World Rally Championship starts in just over three weeks time when teams travel across the globe for the Rally New Zealand, the second gravel rally of the year.

Comprising a total of 395.50 competitive kilometres and 23 stages based around the city of Auckland, the event starts on Thursday 15 April and concludes on Sunday 18 April.

Rally Headquarters will be based at the Sky City complex in Auckland.