Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team ended a gruelling Rally Mexico with a flourish yesterday, claiming a clean-sweep of wins in the final day’s three stages to net valuable championship points. The third round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship had taken a heavy toll, with all three Yaris WRC having to retire from the action at different points during the four days of action.
On Friday, the first full day of competition, both Jari Matti-Latvala (alternator failure) and Esapekka Lappi (a minor off) were taken out of top-level contention, but Ott Tänak, contesting his first gravel event with the team, was in a commanding third place, just 11 seconds off the lead, after winning the day’s final three stages. His hopes of a podium result were dashed on day three when turbo issues dropped him two minutes down the field, prior to him having to retire and prepare for a restart on Sunday.
Latvala meanwhile was demonstrating the Yaris WRC’s pace, climbing back into the points in ninth place. He went on to claim victory in Sunday’s opening stage and maintain his pace to improve to eighth position at the close. Tänak seized the initiative in the final two tests, including the Power Stage which earned him five bonus championship points. He ended the day in 14th place, with Lappi in 11th.
Tänak said: “Today we were putting everything on the Power Stage. We had nothing to lose and just wanted to get these five points. The car was performing really well and I felt really comfortable in the car so I could give an extra push. Of course, I’m not happy with the overall result as we were in contention for the win, but we still have a long season ahead of us and the performance side has been good. It was my first time on gravel in the car, we learned a lot and we can see many places where we can improve.”
Attention now shifts to the Tour de Corse, the classic event on the French island of Corsica, taking place from 5 to 8 April. It’s famous for its narrow and twisty asphalt stages, earning the nickname The Rally of 1,000 Corners. Mountainous stages are lined by rock faces on one side and sheer drops on the other. There are numerous changes in surface and long stages that present a major test to the teams.
PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY MEXICO
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3h54m08.0s
2 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m03.6s
3 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m19.2s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m38.4s
5 Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroen C3 WRC) +2m24.6s
6 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +9m03.0s
7 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +10m24.7s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +15m37.1s
9 Gus Greensmith/Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +17m09.3s
10 Pedro Heller/Pablo Olmos (Ford Fiesta R5) +24m18.1s
11 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30m57.8s
14 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1h02m42.8s
(Results as of 17:30 CET on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)