M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have secured the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC’s second victory of the year at this weekend’s Rally Mexico.
The victory comes 14 years after the Blue Oval’s last Mexican triumph – when Markko Märtin and the late Michael Park piloted their Ford Focus RS WRC to the win.
Highlighting the successful partnership between M-Sport and Ford, just as Martin had done in 2004, Ogier delivered the perfect performance – speed and intelligence combined to secure yet another victory.
The result reinstates Ogier and Ingrassia at the head of the FIA World Rally Championship standings for Drivers and Co-Drivers, and propels the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team from fourth to second in the Manufacturers’ standings.
But the Fiesta didn’t just perform at the highest level – strong performances in the WRC 2 category highlighting the effectiveness of M-Sport and Ford’s ‘Ladder of Opportunity.’
Securing career-best performances behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5s, Gus Greensmith and Pedro Heller secured second and third places in the WRC 2 category as well as their first driver points for ninth and tenth places overall.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“The way Sébastien and Julien tackled this event has just been extraordinary. It was an incredible performance right from the start and what they achieved from their road position on Friday was amazing. Then on Saturday afternoon, we saw Sébastien at his best. In my opinion that has to be his best drive since joining the team – going from fifth to first in the space of a day was quite remarkable.
“The pressure is most definitely on us as a team now. We know they are not going to let us down, and we need to ensure everything is 100 percent at every rally. But it was great to see the progress that we’ve made. This time last year we weren’t quite able to challenge for the win, but this year was a different story. We haven’t stopped working, and it’s great to see all the hard work paying off.”
Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsport, Mark Rushbrook, said:
“Congratulations to Sébastien and Julien on today's well-deserved victory. Coming from a nearly 30 second deficit to win by more than a minute is incredible. We are proud of the work that the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team has done with the Ford Fiesta WRC, and look forward to the team's continued success in 2018."
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have taken their fourth Rally Mexico victory – on the tenth anniversary of their FIA World Rally Championship debut.
The French pairing have long had an affiliation with this event, and that continued this weekend as they displayed all the attributes of a five-time World Champion.
Patience, focus, speed and determination – Ogier had it all as he overcame the disadvantage of an unfavourable road position through the opening stages. Making the best of every situation, he chose his moments perfectly.
Whilst having to contend with some of the loosest gravel through the opening speed tests, a stunning drive saw him limit the potential time loss – ending the day just 31 seconds adrift of the lead.
With a slightly improved road position on the second day, he pushed hard – four fastest stage times transforming fifth place and a 31 second deficit into first place and a 35.9 second advantage.
Embarking on the final day of competition, Ogier not only managed but increased his advantage – securing a second victory for the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC by more than a minute and regaining the lead at the head of the championship standings.
SS20: 2nd (+9.7)
SS21: 4th (+5.1)
SS22: 2nd (+0.4)
Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:
“I’m super happy today and this win is a fantastic way for me and Julien to celebrate our tenth year anniversary in the FIA World Rally Championship. It started in 2008 with a win in the Junior category and so many great things have happened here since then – this win, I think, being one of the best.
“This weekend we really gave it everything. Julien was perfect, and the team were so strong as well. The victory is great of course, but it’s the performance that was really good. We’ve made such a big improvement from last year, and that is a big positive for the rest of the season.
“I was pretty much on the limit all weekend. When you’re early on the road you’re trying your best but the time is still far away from those starting behind. There’s always some frustration coming with that, but you have to keep going and not give up.
“That’s what we did, and on the second day – when our road position was a bit better – we kept pushing and were able to take the lead in the afternoon.
“We can be very proud this weekend, and there’s not a lot we could have done better. We gave it everything – right up until the final stage.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula had much to learn as they tackled Rally Mexico for the first time with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC this weekend.
Discovering the rhythm and style required to harness the performance of the top-specification Fiesta on this unique event, Suninen made good progress whilst gaining the vital knowledge and experience needed to excel at this level.
The young Finn may have suffered a set-back when damaging the cooling package through the second pass of El Chocolate (S77) yesterday afternoon, but he also showcased his speed potential with the fastest time through the first León Street Stage (SS5).
SS20: 4th (+11.9)
SS21: 10th (+19.4)
SS22: 11th (+21.2)
Teemu Suninen (12th) said:
“It’s been a difficult rally for us, but we showed some improvement over the second loops and I was also fast on the city stages which is a big positive. These type of stages [city stages] had been my weakness and we worked really hard to improve, so that was a good.
“Of course it would have been nicer to have been a bit faster on the gravel – and not to have made the mistakes on Friday – but we still learnt a lot and know where we can improve. I need to keep the car on the line and be a bit earlier on the throttle. It’s just some little things, but if you lose 0.1 seconds on every corner it will be a lot of time at the end of the rally!
“We need to analyse this event and then focus on our next one in Argentina. I did the recce there in 2016, so I know something about the stages but this will be my first time in a rally car. Because of this, we will need to prepare even more than normal.”
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:54:58.0
2. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:03.6
3. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen DS3 WRC) +1:19.2
4. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:38.4
5. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (Citroen C3 WRC) +2:24.6
6. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +9:03.0
7. Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +10:24.7
8. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +15:37.1
9. Gus Greensmith / Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +17:09.3
10. Pedro Heller / Pablo Olmos (Ford Fiesta R5) +24:18.1
12. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33:06.3
1. Sébastien Ogier - 56
2. Thierry Neuville - 52
3. Andreas Mikkelsen - 35
4. Kris Meeke - 32
5. Jari-Matti Latvala - 31
6. Ott Tänak - 26
7. Esapekka Lapp - 23
8. Craig Breen - 20
9. Dani Sordo - 18
10. Sébastien Loeb - 11
=12. Elfyn Evans - 8
=15. Teemu Suninen - 4
1. Hyundai Motorsport - 84
2. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - 72
3. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 71
4. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 67
*Subject to official confirmation from the FIA. The team have appealed Stewards Decision No. 7 and await a final decision.