The rocks and rough roads of Mexico’s state of Guanajuato took their toll over the weekend, as the WRC held the first of it’s two events in the Americas. Hit the jump to see some amazing pics and video as well as our typically amateur commentary on the weekend’s stages.
Rally Mexico proved to be a challenge to the title hopes of a number of the WRC’s favorites for the 2013 championship. Lattvala was forced to retire at the start of the stage three, after breaking a control arm on a large rock only three corners into the stage.
The retirement of Ford M-Sport’s Evgeny Novikov and their title contender Mads Ostberg left the Belgian Thierry Neuville as the M-Sport teams standard bearer. Neuville, who is known as a tarmac specialist, managed to overcome the treacherous roads, and a close call with a ditch, to capture his first podium finish in the WRC.
Meanwhile the always quick Mikko HIrvonen was able to bring his Citreon home in second place, well over three minutes behind Sebastien Ogier’s Volkswagen. Mikko showed a great deal of promise early in his career, frequently battling both his teammate Marcus Gronholm and the legendary Sebastien Loeb, but his years of bad luck at Ford and being utterly dominated by Loeb for the past decade might have taken it’s toll. Watching Mikko now, it seems that perhaps he doesn’t have the confidence it takes to win?
Picking up where the other Sebastien left off, Sebastien Ogier has simply dominated the 2013 season so far. Overcoming the traditional hurdle of being on a first year team, albeit one with serious money and testing behind it, and having a teammate who is also a title contender, Ogier has shown the same brilliance that Loeb has had on display for the last decade.
Not only was Ogier fast but he also ran a clean rally with none of the mechanical issues,that seemed to plague his compeittors. The only real problem he encountered was a closed gate on one of the stages. His final time was nearly three and a half minutes quicker than Hirvonen and while that is great news for Ogier and the Volkswagen Motorsports team I really hope the rest of the field can close down that gape.
Maybe there is something in the water in France or maybe you just have to be named Sebastien to win in WRC.
Another notable entrant in Rally Mexico was internet sensation, and hero to trucker hat wearing bros everywhere, Ken Block. Block managed his best WRC finish ever with a solid 7th place. While Block might not be top tier talent on the WRC world stage, he does pretty well for a 45 year old guy who didn’t come up through the traditional driver development programs, like the rest of the field.
As promised we’ve got a little video coverage from the weekend.
Michelin’s Rallylive coverage: (It’s generally a little more pretty than the official coverage.)
The Official WRC coverage:
We’ll see you next time for more high flying action as the WRC travels to the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo regions of Portugal for Round 4 of WRC 2013: Rally Portugal.