Ott Tänak has claimed a superb second place finish on Rally Mexico following an impressive final day, maintaining his lead in the FIA World Rally Championship drivers’ standings. All three Toyota Yaris WRCs finished the gruelling gravel event inside the top eight, helping TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team to add to its manufacturers’ championship advantage.
Having coped well with running first on the road on Friday as championship leader for the first time in his WRC career, Tänak climbed up into the podium positions on Saturday and came into Sunday just 2.2 seconds away from second place. He claimed that position with a stage win in the first of the day’s three stages, and took another in the next test to further extend his advantage. A puncture denied him the chance to claim bonus points in the Power Stage, but he held onto second place.
Kris Meeke showed a strong performance in his first gravel event behind the wheel of the Yaris WRC, even claiming the lead briefly on Saturday morning before he suffered a puncture that dropped him down the order. Sitting in a comfortable fifth position overnight, he saved his tyres for the Power Stage, where he was second fastest to claim four bonus points, missing the best time by only one tenth of a second.
After restarting the event on Saturday following an electrical fault, Jari-Matti Latvala moved up to seventh place overall on the penultimate stage. He and co-driver Miikka Anttila had to make last-minute repairs before the final stage, but made it to the finish in eighth.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It has been a very difficult rally for the drivers, for the engineers and for the mechanics, but we have improved a lot here compared to the previous two years. There were no issues with the cooling packages and the performance has been strong. Ott did very well running first on the road for the first time with no complaints and I think he got the maximum from the situation. Kris and Jari-Matti were unfortunate but they kept fighting and scored some good points, helping us in the championship.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It has been a good weekend. This has been a very demanding event: tough for the car, tough for the tyres and tough for the drivers inside the car. I believe we managed it well and I’m really happy to make it through without mistakes or problems. It really shows how strong we are. I had a puncture on the Power Stage, so there was nothing I could do there, but the first two stages were good and we managed to get the second place. It’s been a good start to the championship with three podiums from three rallies, and it would be great if we can carry on like this.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“I don’t think I’ve ever fought so hard to get four points! At the end of the second stage of the day, we hit some bedrock with the sump guard. We thought we had no chance to continue but I said we can’t give up at this point. The sump guard was only half-fixed so I couldn’t drive fast in the Power Stage, and we were late into the time control so we lost seventh place by four seconds. But at least we made it to the end. There have been a lot of things happening this weekend, hopefully the next rally will be a bit calmer!”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“We were in a secure fifth place in the overall standings, so we had to balance protecting that with a push in the Power Stage. I saved my tyres through the first two stages, which I think was the right strategy. I then gave it everything in the Power Stage, while still making sure to bring home the fifth place. It’s been a tough rally for me after the puncture while we were leading, but to come away with 14 points is still positive. For the team and for the manufacturers’ championship it’s been a really strong rally.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY MEXICO
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3h37m08.0s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30.2s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +49.9s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m27.0s
5 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6m06.2s
6 Benito Guerra/Jaime Zapata (Skoda Fabia R5) +15m35.5s
7 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson/Fabian Cretu (Skoda Fabia R5) +18m51.5s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +18m55.9s
9 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +22m44.1s
10 Ricardo Trivino/Marc Marti (Skoda Fabia R5) +30m13.8s
(Results as of 13:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The Tour de Corse on March 28-31 is the first true asphalt rally of the season, taking place on twisting and twisting roads on the French island of Corsica. With long, mountainous stages lined by rock faces on one side and steep drops on the other, as well as numerous surface changes, there is plenty to catch drivers out.
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