M-Sport World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured their third podium in as many events at this weekend’s Rally Mexico. Piloting their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC to second place, the Frenchmen have also regained the lead in the drivers’ standings
Having encountered Tarmac, snow and gravel in the opening three rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Ford Fiesta has excelled – securing stage victories and podium places across all three surfaces.
Here in Mexico, the Fiesta shined throughout the field. All three Fiesta WRCs secured stage wins and thanks to a fine fourth place from Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, the team have strengthened their lead to 36 points at the head of the manufacturer standings.
In the WRC 2 category, Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas displayed stunning pace behind the wheel of their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta R5.
Locked in an intense battle for victory, the pairing had overturned a 25 second deficit through yesterday’s stages, but ultimately had to settle for second position. Their impressive speed, coupled with a new evolution Fiesta R5 waiting in the wings, bodes well for M-Sport’s future WRC 2 endeavours.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been another great rally for us and it’s fantastic to see the Fiesta performing so strongly on all surfaces. We’ve witnessed asphalt, snow and gravel and we’ve proven to be competitive on all three.
“With another podium for Sébastien he’s regained the lead in the drivers’ championship; and with Ott just behind in fourth we’ve strengthened our lead at the head of the manufacturers’ championship. It was also particularly rewarding to see all three cars setting fastest stage times once again.
“But it’s not just in the main field that we’ve shown our strength. In the WRC 2 category, Éric has been very impressive. He’s been a bit unlucky at times this weekend, but when everything was working in his favour I think it’s fair to say that he had the measure of everyone else.
“It’s great to see him regaining his confidence, but it’s also great from a team perspective with a new evolution for the Fiesta R5 waiting in the wings.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Thanks to a third successive podium in as many events at this weekend’s Rally Mexico, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have regained prime position at the head of the drivers’ standings.
Despite being tasked with the arduous job of sweeping a clean line through the opening stages, the four-time World Champions didn’t let the disadvantage halt their charge. Posting a string of competitive times, only the tenth car on the road could better their pace.
As the conditions became more consistent, Ogier was able to match the rally winners’ speed but the damage had already been done and he had to settle for second position.
Second place in the points-paying Power Stage added to a strong points’ haul – strengthening the Frenchman’s championship campaign.
SS18: 2nd (+6.3)
SS19: 2nd (+0.3)
Sébastien Ogier (2nd) said:
“I’m really pleased with this result. Coming away from Mexico with 22 points is a great result for me and honestly I would have taken that before the rally. Opening the road on Friday, we knew that we would struggle in the loose conditions but I think we managed it pretty well.
“When the conditions become more even we were able to set the same pace as Kris but I must congratulate him also. He had a really strong drive and didn’t give us the chance to make any inroads into his lead so it was a deserved victory for him.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja found themselves in an unusual position at this weekend’s Rally Mexico – not on the podium for the first time this year!
The Estonians had been in joint second position after the spectacular opener in Mexico City before a temperature alarm saw them fall a minute adrift of the lead.
With the issues resolved for the following speed tests, Tänak may have had a less advantageous road position than his rivals but quickly found his feet and posted a string of competitive times including the fastest time through the second pass of El Brinco (SS14).
Securing fourth place overall as well as third place in the points-paying Power Stage, the pairing claimed a strong haul of points to retain their third place in the drivers’ championship.
SS18: 8th (+25.6)
SS19: 3rd (+3.8)
Ott Tänak (4th) said:
“We lost a lot of time on Friday so it was a shame not to be on the podium, but it was still a positive event for us. From yesterday onwards we were back on the pace and setting good times so I’m happy with that. It was a very positive rally for the team as a whole and we’ve got some more good points on the board for the championship which is really important.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
After incurring a five minute penalty for an engine change on Thursday evening, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt were playing catch-up from the start.
Despite starting the rally in last position and having to contend with the worst of the road cleaning through the longest day of competition, the Brits climbed safely into the top-ten.
Securing three stage victories on his way to ninth place overall, the Welshman has gained a wealth of knowledge which he hopes will pay dividends on the next gravel outing in Argentina.
SS18: 10th (+33.5)
SS19: 6th (+9.9)
Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
“It’s been a tricky weekend with the penalty and then having to run first on the road, but overall I think we can be pretty happy with the weekend. This was our first time on gravel with these new cars and we’ve completed all of the mileage with good speed and three stage victories.
“It could have been a lot worse for sure and we’ve collected a lot of good knowledge which bodes well for the next gravel outing in Argentina.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE M-SPORT TEAM
In the WRC 2 category, Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas have also strengthened their second position in the drivers’ standings – leading the way before having to settle for second place behind the wheel of their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta R5.
Setting a stunning time through the first gravel test of the rally (SS4) the French pairing were 17.6 seconds faster than anyone else. Encountering some rear suspension issues throughout the remainder of the day, they fell 25 seconds adrift before mounting an almighty comeback.
Overturning the deficit, Camilli was soon back at the front and held a 6.8 second advantage after the second pass of Media Luna (SS12). Ultimately however, a wet set-up combined with a less than ideal recce through the closing stages meant that the French pairing had to content themselves with the runner-up spot.
Despite missing out on the victory, Camilli has shown impressive pace which proves both his progress on gravel as well as the performance of the Fiesta.
Éric Camilli (2nd WRC 2) said:
“I’m happy with second place but at the same time I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to win. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Pontus drove really well today and we didn’t have the best recce of today’s stages so it wasn’t possible to do more.
“I’m still really pleased with my speed. We had a few issues on the opening day, but this rally has made it clear that we have the pace to challenge for wins on gravel – and that is really good. When everything was working well, we felt really comfortable in the car and our times were really strong.
“A big thanks to the team who have worked really hard all hours of the day. It’s looking good for the future.”
1. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) 3:22:04.6
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13.8
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +59.7
4. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:18.3
5. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3:32.9
6. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:40.3
7. Juho Hänninen / Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:06.2
8. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +5:22.7
9. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6:32.7 +8:41.8
10. Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +10:51.9
1. Sébastien Ogier - 66
2. Jari-Matti Latvala - 58
3. Ott Tänak - 48
4. Dani Sordo -30
5. Thierry Neuville - 28
6. Kris Meeke - 27
7. Craig Breen - 20
8. Elfyn Evans - 20
9. Hayden Paddon - 17
10. Stephane Lefebvre - 10
1. M-Sport World Rally Team - 103
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 67
3. Hyundai Motorsport - 65
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 55