11 March 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Hat-trick! Ogier celebrates third
2015 WRC victory with Rally Mexico win

2015 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Mexico: Ogier/Ingrassia

In a familiar story and a repeat of the previous two wins from the same number of events, Volkswagen Motorsport driver pairing Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia emerged victorious at the third round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Mexico. The South American group of stages which ran from 6-9 March was the 25th time the Polo R WRC has come out on top in the 29 WRC events it has started since 2013.

‘Perfect rally’
Described as a ‘perfect rally’ for the French pairing, Rally Mexico saw Ogier and Ingrassia finish in the top three driver pairings in 20 of the 21 special stages, taking the fastest time in nine of them. Leading from 5.61km in, the double world champions set the pace and never looked back. With new rules legislating that the championship leader starts the stages first, Ogier selected hard and soft tyres, turning his ‘sweeping’ disadvantage into a positive opportunity.

From then on, the duo displayed a truly flawless example of driving and navigating on the first of six consecutive gravel rallies. Run at over 1,800 metres above sea level, the WRC cars can be affected by the air at high altitudes, but this didn’t stop Ogier and Ingrassia, who promised a blistering pace by setting the fastest time at Shakedown before the rally around the Guanajuato area of the country got properly underway.

Ogier and Ingrassia didn’t relent and collected the three bonus points for the fastest time on the final run through the ‘El Brinco’ Power Stage, known for its popular and spectacular jump. The French drivers’ team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene picked up two extra points as they tamed El Brinco and finished second.

‘Absolutely incredible! I am so happy and proud of this victory in Mexico,’ said an elated Ogier. ‘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.’

Third consecutive podium
It was good rally for the Norwegians, too. With a third consecutive podium finish, Mikkelsen and Fløene are now second in the drivers’ world championship points table behind Ogier and Ingrassia. It was a Mexican debut for the Scandinavian pair and one which they relished. A fast but safe driving style ensured the young Norwegian and his older and more experienced co-driver were always in reach of the leading Ogier and Ingrassia as well as the Citroën of Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson.

With Finnish team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, as well as the Hyundai pairing of Belgians Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul also hot on Ogier’s heels, Mikkelsen and Fløene delivered a consistent drive and finsihed just 6.3 seconds behind Østberg and Andersson by the time the curtain came down on 2015’s first South American rally.

Mikkelsen was pleased with his performance: ‘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.’

Early retirement
It wasn’t such good news for Latvala and Anttila. Up until the twelfth stage, they were the only crew able to keep with Ogier and Ingrassia, but a mistake saw the back of their Polo strike a bank. Suspension damage saw the Finns lose a wheel and be rescued back to the service park, an early retirement enforced. Starting under Rally 2 regulations on the final day, the 2014 world champion runners-up managed to secure six points for Volkswagen in the Manufacturers’ Championship on completion of the event.

‘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,’ reported a disappointed Latvala.

‘Fantastic effort’
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director once again lavished praise on his squad: ‘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. All in all, we are very happy with the outcome of the Rally Mexico,’ he added.

The success of the Mexican event brought Volkswagen Motorsport’s podium tally up to 48 since the 318bhp all-wheel drive Polo R WRC debuted in 2013. The outfit from Wolfsburg (technically Hannover, but we’re splitting hairs) is now undefeated from the last seven WRC events and 373 from 542 stage wins have gone to Volkswagen Motorsport. Three-quarters of the 28 possible Power Stage victories have also gone to the Polo-based crews.

The 2015 World Rally Championship circus moves to the area surrounding Córdoba in Argentina next for Rally Argentina on 23-26 April.

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

RALLY MEXICO FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 4h 19m 13.4s
2 Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën: + 1m 18.8s
3 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen: + 1m 25.1s
4 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford: + 3m 40.2s
5 Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai: + 5m 01.8s

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1 Sébastien Ogier, 81
2 Andreas Mikkelsen, 47
3 Thierry Neuville, 35
4 Mads Østberg, 32
5 Elfyn Evans, 26

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 99

2 Hyundai Motorsport, 75
3 M-Sport, 48
4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 42
5 Jipocar Czech National Team, 20

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