Evgeny Novikov admitted he was disappointed at being forced to retire from Rally Mexico after an impressive return to the World Rally Championship was brought to a premature end.

The Russian youngster went into the weekend without any prior testing of his M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC in what was his first appearance in the series for some 18 months.

Novikov impressed with a series of strong stage times on the opening day to run inside the top six but his hopes of celebrating his return with a finish came to an end on day two when his engine overheated while running fifth and put him out of the event.

"It was very disappointing to retire as it had been a very good rally for us until then," he said. "It has been a good weekend in terms of learning about the car and I am feeling more confident now for Italy. I think that will be a better rally for us.

"We had a small impact yesterday [Saturday] and unfortunately this affected the engine but these things happen and there was nothing we could have done. I really enjoyed myself and I've now got good experience in the car so that is very important."



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