Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has taken the victory on Rally Mexico, his second win in succession on the event and also his second triumph of the 2014 WRC season.
Ogier led throughout much of the event, the third round in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship, and while Citroen's Mads Ostberg demoted him to second in SS3 on Friday morning, the Frenchman fought back in the afternoon, retaking the lead in SS7, El Chocolate 2, and eventually ending the leg with a 26.1 second cushion.
Ogier then continued to push on Saturday, winning all five 'proper' tests to stretch his advantage to just over a minute.
It meant the final day was all about getting to the finish and Ogier didn't disappoint, although he didn't ease up, winning SS19 and the event ending Power Stage. He eventually took the spoils by 1 minute 12.6 seconds, a result that puts him back on top in the 2014 WRC Drivers' Championship, albeit just 3 points up on team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala.
“It was a perfect week,” said Ogier. “I came here very angry and very hungry after what happened in Sweden - but this is the perfect way to re-start the championship. The car was perfect, very strong and very fast. [Overall] I am very happy.”
Latvala meanwhile had to settle for the runners-up spot, having lost time on the opening day when he had to act as the road sweeper. Nevertheless though, it was a mature drive and he deservedly ended up 'best of the rest'.
"I'm pleased to score my best ever result in Mexico. I am satisfied with my performance. We made no mistakes and had a clean run through. It is really, really great. It was a good rally for us," noted the Finn.
Thierry Neuville completed the top three and took the very first rostrum result for the new Hyundai WRC team. The Belgian's i20 WRC was by no means perfect, but Neuville kept his head and benefitted as those ahead hit trouble: "A big thanks to the team. There are a lot of things we still need to work on, but this bodes so well for the future,” Neuville remarked.
Elfyn Evans secured his best-ever WRC result and was fourth in his M-Sport World Rally Team-run Fiesta RS WRC. The Welshman posted 20 top-ten times in total from a possible 22: "It's been a great experience [here]. We can now move forward and I am looking forward to that,” he noted.
Behind, Martin Prokop was fifth in his privately entered Fiesta RS WRC, and after DNFs in Monte Carlo and Sweden, the Czech driver was delighted to open his account – and open it in style.
Local ace, Benito Guerra rounded out the top-six, despite going off on Saturday and hitting a tree: "I am really happy. This is my best result so far in WRC. I hope this will be good for my sponsors. Sixth place is fantastic!”
Further back, Chris Atkinson took seventh on his first event with Hyundai and his first in the WRC for over 12 months.
Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg were eighth and ninth, both having re-joined on Saturday under Rally 2. Hirvonen had been running third until electrical problems stopped him in SS8, while Ostberg had been running second, until he hit a bank in the opening test on Saturday and broke the suspension on his Citroen DS3 WRC. He later admitted that a pace-note error was to blame for the incident.
Andreas Mikkelsen also finished under Rally 2 and was classified in P19. He went out on both Friday and Saturday, but came through Sunday's stages unscathed.
Robert Kubica and Kris Meeke were the two major retirements. Kubica had been running fourth until he rolled his Fiesta RS WRC in the penultimate test on Friday. He re-started in ninth on Saturday, but binned it again in SS13 and was unable to rejoin on the final day as the roll cage was damaged. Meeke also went out, but on Friday in SS8. He had been running fourth. He then rejoined on day two and was up to ninth, until he hit a rock in the event ending Power Stage.
In WRC2, Yuriy Protasav took the class honours, having led since SS4 on Friday. He finished more than 20 minutes up on Luca Bertelli, while Massimiliano Rendina took third.
The 2014 FIA World Rally Championship now returns to Europe next month for Rally de Portugal, which runs from April 3-6.
To view the result for Rally Mexico 2014 - CLICK HERE