WRC: Volkswagen in ‘Flight of fantasy’ in Mexico
Volkswagen duo Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) pulled off an outstanding victory at the Rally Mexico. A dazzling display at the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) produced win number three of the season and their third success in a row in Mexico. The French pair now has an impressive 27 victories to its name, putting them ahead of rally legend Carlos Sainz and into third place in the all-time winners list. It was the 25th triumph for Volkswagen in its 29th rally with the Polo R WRC. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) also completed a hat-trick, claiming their third podium finish in a row and climbing into second place in the Driver and Co-Drivers’ Championship.
Irresistible #GOgier: double world champion in superb form
It does not get much better than that: Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a perfect rally in Mexico. From the first metre to the last – the double world champions finished in the top three on 20 of the 21 special stages. They even clocked the fastest time on nine of the 21 stages. Ogier/Ingrassia moved into the lead just 5.61 kilometres into the rally and never surrendered that position. There was no lack of competition for the works drivers from Wolfsburg: as well as their team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai) and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën) were also heavily involved in what was an exciting battle for the lead.
Ogier/Ingrassia laid the foundation for their fifth victory in a row with a clever tyre selection on Friday, when they overcame the disadvantage of having to open the route and sweep the roads free of loose gravel by opting for a crossover mixture of hard and soft Michelin tyres. They made the most of their masterstroke with a flawless display of driving and navigating.
Higher than anything in Europe – the entire Rally Mexico is held over 1,800 metres above sea level. For comparison: the highest point on the ten European rallies is 1,608 metres above sea level – on the “La Bollène-Vésubie–Sospel” stage at the Rally Monte Carlo. And the Rally Mexico is always a time for superlatives: the World Rally Cars reached the “roof of the WRC” at 2,752 metres on the “El Chocolate” special stage, while the final Sunday saw them complete the longest stage of the 2015 season – the 55.82-kilometre “Guanajuatito”. And then there was the emotional start in the silver mine city of Guanajuato, where the passionate fans ensured nobody was spared goosebumps.
The conditions on the special stages posed big challenges for the drivers and co-drivers. The road surface on the first of six gravel rallies in a row consisted of a mixture of loose sand on the one hand and rough, jagged gravel on the other. “Otates”, “Los Mexicanos”, “Ibarilla” and “Derramadero” are classics on the WRC calendar. The “El Brinco” Power Stage, with its famous and popular jump, provided a fitting finish. The three bonus points for the fastest time went to Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, with Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene picking up two extra points for finishing second.
25 of 48, and 21 – fact finding at the Rally Mexico
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s success not only marked the 25th victory for the Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship, but was also the 47th podium for Volkswagen since the manufacturer first entered its World Rally Car in 2013. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene finished third to add podium number 48. Volkswagen is now undefeated in the last seven WRC events. Since 2013, 373 of a possible 542 stage wins have gone to Wolfsburg. The Volkswagen drivers have also won 21 of the 28 Power Stages since 2013.
Quotes after day four of the Rally Mexico
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Absolutely incredible! I am so happy and proud of this victory in Mexico. It is one of the best wins of my career. Julien and I had a perfect weekend, the Polo was fantastic, and the team did a magnificent job. We pushed like crazy from the word go in the cockpit, came up with the cleverest tyre selection on Friday – and were rewarded in the end. It is my third win in a row here. The Rally Mexico seems to be kind to me. And I love coming here. The route suits me, the countryside is fantastic, and the fans make the rally a great fiesta every year.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“All in all, the weekend obviously did not go to plan. I had hoped for more from my starting position, and did not manage to establish a rhythm over the course of the weekend. I tried to put as much pressure as possible on Ogier, which meant driving at the limit. My rally was over once I damaged the suspension. Fortunately I have a break now and have time to forget about the disappointing start to the season. I need to find my rhythm and then attack again in Argentina.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Third place at the Rally Mexico plus two bonus points on the Power Stage – that is an absolutely fantastic result for us. We do not have an awful lot of experience of the special stages, so always set a safe pace. Our plan was to get through each special stage without making any mistakes. We executed that perfectly. I am totally happy with our rally. And second place in the championship does not look bad either.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“To win the Rally Mexico three times in a row is a fantastic effort. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia more than deserve this triumph for their outstanding display of driving and navigating. From tyre selection to a perfectly calculated risk strategy – it was a flawless rally from the two of them. However, they are not the only ones who have continued their superb start to the season: Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene have too. They produced a tactical masterclass and looked very good. You cannot forget that Andreas was making only his second appearance here and had hardly any experience of the special stages. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila made the best of the unfortunate situation after their crash yesterday and picked up some points for the team in the Manufacturers’ Championship. All in all, we are very happy with the outcome of the Rally Mexico.”