Rally Mexico 2015

 

Ogier unbeatable in Mexico, another strong performance from Mikkelsen, bad luck for Latvala.

 

High altitudes evidently agree with Sébastien Ogier! The reigning world champion who drives for Volkswagen Motorsport (Polo R WRC #1) succeeded in winning his third consecutive Rally Mexico – and was once again in a league of his own. At the end of 21 special stages, the Frenchman had a lead of almost 90 seconds over Citroën driver Mads Østberg, who narrowly beat his fellow Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9).

 

While Ogier’s completing his Mexico hat-trick also marked his third rally win in 2015, his teammate Mikkelsen made it onto the third step of the winners’ rostrum for the third time. Things didn’t go quite as well for the championship runner-up Jari-Matti Latvala in the Polo R WRC #2: having already failed to score any points in Sweden, the Finn finished Rally Mexico empty-handed too. A far-reaching instance of slipping meant Latvala was only able to finish in 15th place, although he did at least manage to pick up a few points in the manufacturers’ championship.

 

The first leg of Rally Mexico was dominated by failure, with no less than seven WRC drivers including Latvala not managing to finish on Friday. As a result, they had to start ahead of Ogier on Saturday, in accordance with the Rally 2 rule – this was a major advantage for the world champion, as it meant he only had to serve as the ‘road sweeper’ on the first day of the rally.

 

But even as the first entrant to start, Ogier managed to deliver four fastest times during the first leg – and ultimately even won 9 of the 21 special stages, including the final power stage, which earned him three bonus points in the drivers’ championship. Mikkelsen came second in the power stage and picked up two bonus points in the process.

Sébastien Ogier: “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: “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: “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.”


Another outstanding result for Volkswagen Motorsport, courtesy of Ogier’s win and third place for Mikkelsen. Rally Mexico. The video.


Rally Mexico 2015: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:19:13.4    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 4:20:32.2 +1:18.8  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 4:20:38.5 +1:25.1  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt 4:22:53.6 +3:40.2  
5 D. Sordo / M. Martí 4:24:15.2 +5:01.8  
6 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 4:25:49.5 +6:36.1  
7 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel (WRC 2) 4:34:06.1 +14:52.7  
8 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 4:41:56.7 +22:43.3  
9 N. Fuchs / F. Musano (WRC 2) 4:42:02.4 +22:49.0  
10 J. Ketomaa / K. Lindström (WRC 2) 4:42:23.6 +23:10.2  

The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2015 Rally Mexico a second time around: every single day and every single special stage.

 

Click through each day’s picture gallery and watch video clips of each stage. The whole thing is rounded off with all of the pre-event reports and interviews. Happy reading!

Sunday, 08.03.2015


Another outstanding result for Volkswagen Motorsport, courtesy of Ogier’s win and third place for Mikkelsen. Rally Mexico. The video.


CURRENT PICTURES (20)
LAST UPDATE: 22:01 (CET)


Classification after 21 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:19:13.4    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 4:20:32.2 +1:18.8  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 4:20:38.5 +1:25.1  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt 4:22:53.6 +3:40.2  
5 D. Sordo / M. Martí 4:24:15.2 +5:01.8  
6 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 4:25:49.5 +6:36.1  
7 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel (WRC 2) 4:34:06.1 +14:52.7  
8 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 4:41:56.7 +22:43.3  
9 N. Fuchs / F. Musano (WRC 2) 4:42:02.4 +22:49.0  
10 J. Ketomaa / K. Lindström (WRC 2) 4:42:23.6 +23:10.2  

23:59 (CET)

Mexico winner Ogier: “These roads are made for me.”


The world champion takes stock after an incredible weekend.

 

Sébastien Ogier had every reason to smile. “Three wins in a row and a 34-point lead in the World Championship – it feels like a dream.” The success in Mexico came as something of a surprise, but was once again the result of meticulous preparation. “During the tests, I spent a long time working on finding a perfect chassis set-up for my role as road sweeper here,” revealed Ogier after the champagne shower on the podium.

 

The slightly risky tactic of fitting a crossover of hard and soft tyres on Friday morning proved to be spot on. “I tried that out again in the Shakedown and knew that it worked.” The fact that this combination of tyre compounds posed a certain risk to the handling of the #1 Polo R WRC, despite the advantages in terms of grip, was evident in the different tyre selections made by his team-mates. “The handling is definitely rather precarious,” Ogier admitted.

 

The world champion was inclined to doubt whether this variant might be used again at the forthcoming Rally Argentina: the next round of the World Championship (23rd to 26th April) will be held almost exclusively on soft tyres. “We now have another five gravel rallies in a row. I cannot be that lucky every time. Furthermore, we only have the first three of 13 rounds behind us. I do not believe that the title race has been won already.” Or, as co-driver Julien Ingrassia put it: “We have a lot more corners ahead of us. Something could go wrong in any one of them. Even at 20 km/h if you are really unlucky.”

 

After three wins in a row, it is no wonder that the Rally Mexico is one of Ogier’s favourite results. “The roads here are made for me. They are perfectly suited to my driving style.” Co-driver Ingrassia highlighted the special importance of the Rally Mexico in the careers of the two Frenchmen. “We first started here in the Junior WRC in 2008.” Even back then, Ogier/Ingrassia finished on the top step of the podium at the first attempt.


21:40 (CET)

Absolutely perfect.

Sébastien Ogier won in Mexico with one of the best performances of his career. Andreas Mikkelsen also finished higher than expected.

Third win in a row, and the fastest men on the Power Stage for the third time too – the Rally Mexico could not have gone better for Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (Polo R WRC #1). “Right from the start I was extra motivated to win this rally from the front,” Ogier revealed upon arriving back at the service park in León. “We pushed as hard as possible from the very first metre, and gained a crucial edge with a risky tyre selection on Friday. All in all, that was one of the best rallies of my career.” Victory on the Power Stage was not such a great surprise for the Frenchman. “I love this stage. It has a great rhythm with a lot of fast corners.”

 

The third win of the season was another small step towards a successful title defence for the reigning world champion. “We now have another five gravel rallies, where the starting position could play a key role. As such, it is perfect to have taken maximum points from the first three rallies.”

 

Beaming smiles were also to be found in the number 9 Polo R WRC. “If someone had told me before the start that I would finish third here and pick up two points on the Power Stage, I would have considered them mad,” said a delighted Andreas Mikkelsen, for whom the weekend panned out better than expected. “Of the top drivers, I am probably the one with the least experience in Mexico. For this reason, the most important thing for me was to finish the rally.”

 

Mikkelsen could live with losing the duel for second place with compatriot Mads Østberg (Citroën) by just 6.3 seconds. “I spun on the first stage today, otherwise it might have been even closer.” Third place sees Mikkelsen move into second place on his own in the World Championship table. “I really could not expect more than that.”

 

In contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) was still clearly crestfallen when he reached the finish of round three of the 2015 WRC. “I still do not 100 per cent have the feel for the new car. As such, I am slightly lacking the confidence you need to beat someone like Sébastien – not just on one stage, but over an entire rally,” the Finn admitted. He has already found areas with room for improvement. “I have to change the way I operate the brake pedal.” Latvala now has almost seven weeks to work on improvements before the Rally Argentina. “First of all, however, I am looking forward to two weeks of holiday in California.”


21:15 (CET)

The success story of the Volkswagen Motorsport team and the Polo R WRC continues. At the Rally Mexico, the World Rally car celebrated its 25th victory – in just 29 rallies that it has taken part in since entering the competition in January 2013. That gives a win ratio of an incredible 86 percent! After ten wins in its debut year in 2013, twelve fantastic victories followed the next year. This season the win ratio currently stands at 100 percent: All three of the rallies completed so far have been won by Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1. The double world champion has a total of 20 wins to his name, on top of this are the five wins of his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the Polo R WRC #2.


21:00 (CET)

“This is one of the best wins of my career.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.


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-Direktor

“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.”


Last update 19:57 (CET)

The final kilometres in Mexico.


SS 19: Marathon impressively mastered.

It was the final major obstacle for the WRC drivers at the Rally Mexico: On the 55.82-kilometre special stage “Guanajuatito”, the drivers and cars were put to the test for over 35 minutes – now only 20 kilometres of the rally remain. Overall leader Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 was on the ball on the marathon section, and drove to a strong second place without taking too many risks. The battle of the Norwegians for second place remains gripping: Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) finished in third, just 3.5 seconds behind stage winner Mads Østberg – but with only a deficit of 8.0 seconds to the Citroën driver he is still hoping to finish second overall.

 

SS 20: Ogier in safety mode, Mikkelsen hasn't given up.
Both these drivers are fighting on equal footing: Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) and Mads Østberg (Citroën) went head-to-head for second place in the overall standings once again on the penultimate special stage of the Rally Mexico. At the end of the 11.59 kilometres of the special stage “Derramadero”, just 0.6 seconds separated the two Norwegians. This means that Mikkelsen remains in third place going into the final 8.25 kilometres, narrowly trailing his fellow countryman. Unfazed by the duel, Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 is driving towards his third win in Mexico and of the season.

 

SS 21: Seb and Julien win in Mexico!
¡Ay, caramba! Third strike for the World Champion pair! Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia are the glorious victors at the Rally Mexico. A double hat-trick, since it is not only the third win in a row this season for the Frenchmen, but also their third Mexico win in the Polo R WRC. The icing on the cake for Volkswagen Motorsport is the double Fiesta Mexicana: Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene also made it onto the podium, finishing third overall. And if that wasn't reason enough to celebrate, a total of five bonus points also went to the Volkswagen drivers on the final Power Stage “El Brinco”; Séb and Julien demonstrated their superiority once again with a commanding best time and picked up three bonus points, Andreas and Ola got the second-fastest stage time and picked up two points. Well done Señores!


13:00 (CET)

Living in boxes.

At the overseas rallies the service park structure mainly consists of containers.

The journey to the Rally Mexico was a long one. Particularly for the almost 90 tonnes of equipment that was shipped to Central America. The eight 40-foot containers, which form the backbone of the Volkswagen Motorsport service park structure, left Bremerhaven on 03 February. From the sea port of Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico, the containers continued their journey by truck to Léon.


For logistics manager Lutz Meyer, the whole procedure has become something of a routine. But new challenges still crop up every year. “This time it was the date of the Rally Sweden that was pushed back a week,” explained Meyer. “That meant there wasn't much time to transport the equipment that was sent to Mexico as air cargo.” Regulations such as the 24-hour customs seal didn't make the timing any easier. “But even that went according to plan.”


Every cubic centimetre of the eight containers is used. One of the steel boxes more than twelve metres long is kitted out as a kitchen, a second houses the office for the team management and engineers. The remaining containers clad in the new team colours are used to store equipment. Four Golf Rs used for testing also fit inside the sea containers.


“We have made a great deal of improvements to detail compared with 2014,” said Meyer. This also includes the purchase of a new generator. “This not only means that we no longer rely on local providers, but we can also set up our entire power supply in line with European safety standards.”


Mexico is only the first stop on the 2015 world tour of the “overseas set-ups” of Volkswagen Motorsport. The next stop is the Rally Argentina (23 – 26 April), and from there it's on to Australia. Meyer isn't expecting the equipment to return to Germany until mid November.


The three Polo R WRCs for the drivers Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen reached Mexico about a week before the rally, as part of a total of almost 20 tonnes of air cargo. Volkswagen Motorsport uses custom air cargo containers. “They are sealed in Hannover and processed entirely by customs,” explained Meyer. They are only unpacked when they arrive at their destination. This is to prevent the valuable cargo from being damaged during reloading.


For the same reason Meyer is happy that the Rally Argentina was postponed by a week. “With the original date it wouldn't have been possible to ship the cargo from Veracruz to Buenos Aires via the Atlantic. We would have had to send the sea cargo to Santiago in Chile via the Pacific.” From there it would have travelled by truck across the Andes to Argentina. “It's a very bumpy ride,” said logistics manager Lutz Meyer, “one that is better for fragile cargo not to make.”


Sunday: the special stages of the third stage.

12:00 (CET)


World Champion flying high, Drama on three wheels and a fascinating battle for second place. The second leg. The video.


CURRENT PICTURES (13)
LAST UPDATE: 05:10 (CET)


03:10 (CET)

Sticking with a controlled attack.

Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen will stick to the same strategy for the final leg.

An advantage of more than a minute is not a good enough reason for Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) to assume the cowboy boots presented to the winner will have his name on them. “The longest stage of the whole rally is on Sunday. It's far from over,” said the Frenchman as he waited to drive into the service at the end of the second leg.


But it isn't the physical stress of the special stage “Guanajuatito”, which covers almost 56 kilometres, that is the biggest challenge for Ogier. “As long as everything on the car is working – power steering, ventilation and so on, - it's not that hard. It's much more difficult to not lose concentration when driving for more than half an hour.” And he doesn't want the supposed safe lead to lull him into a false sense of security. “I prefer it when I need to go on full attack. That's when I have a better rhythm. But the advantage is that I don't need to risk everything, for example, when cutting corners.”


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) has a similar strategy. “The most important thing for me is to finish the rally to gain experience. For example, I'm not familiar with many sections of the long special stage “Guanajuatito”. My aim is to win the 2016 Rally Mexico. Which is why I am still driving at my own speed and am not letting myself get caught up in a duel with Mads Østberg.” At the end of the second leg, Mikkelsen trails his fellow countryman in the Citroën by just 4.5 seconds. “In this instance it's good that we no longer get any split times in the car,” said Mikkelsen. “They would only distract me.”


Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala is preparing for a restart on Sunday. The Finn didn't want to miss out on personally driving his now repaired Polo R WRC to the parc fermé for the evening – a task normally performed by a mechanic. Latvala received a total of 42 minutes of penalties for the six stages he missed, and was in 17th place overall at the end of the second leg.

And then there is the Power Stage, the special stage “El Brinco” right at the end. “That's what I'm focussing on,” said Sébastien Ogier. “I'm going to get the three bonus points for the best time.”


Classification after 18 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:33:27.4    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:34:42.6 +1:15.2  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 3:34:47.1 +1:19.7  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt 3:35:56.0 +2:28.6  
5 D. Sordo / M. Martí 3:37:38.0 +4:10.6  
6 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 3:38:07.0 +4:39.6  
7 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel (WRC 2) 3:44:11.3 +10:43.9  
8 N. Fuchs / F. Musano (WRC 2) 3:52:01.9 +18:34.5  
9 J. Ketomaa / K. Lindström (WRC 2) 3:53:06.9 +19:39.5  
10 A. Al-kuwari / M. Clarke (WRC 2) 3:53:16.5 +19:49.1  

Last update 01:45 (CET)

The special stages in detail.

 

SS 16: Three men really going for it.
What a great performance from the front-runners. Just 1.7 seconds separated the podium contenders on the special stage “Otates 2”, which stretches over almost 43 kilometres. Sébastien Ogier still has everything under control; the Frenchman was happy with the third-fastest time. Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen drove with the bit between his teeth and managed to finish 0.6 seconds faster – however, Mads Østberg (Citroën) narrowly beat him in the end, and is fighting tooth and nail to defend his second place in the overall standings.

 

SS 17: Battle for second place continues.
These two are giving nothing away: On the second pass of the special stage “El Brinco”, getting the faster time, Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen managed to chip away at Østberg's advantage a little bit more – but only by 0.3 seconds. The gap now stands at 5.7 seconds. World Champion Sébastien Ogier got another best time on the special stage. “A perfect rally for us so far. Now the main thing is to not make any mistakes.”

 

SS 18: Just a perfect day…
…at least for World Champion Sébastien Ogier, for whom everything ran like clockwork today. After the Super Special Stage, the Volkswagen driver ended Saturday's rallying action in Mexico with a comfortable lead of 1:15.2 minutes. With his best time, team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen showed once again that he will try anything to snatch second place. He now trails Citroën driver Mads Østberg by just four and a half seconds – meaning a double Fiesta Mexicana could be on the cards for Volkswagen.

Saturday, 07.03.2015


22:10 (CET)

That was close! On Special Stage 14, only a blink of an eye separated six WRC drivers at the finish on the street stage Léon 2. Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) were part of the pack. The World Champion from France was the second-fastest to complete the short 1.37-kilometre asphalt section, with a time of 1:12.0 minutes. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) and Martin Prokop (Ford) drove exactly the same time as the World Champion.


A second trio completed Special Stage 14 in 1:12.1 minutes, just one tenth of a second slower. Andreas Mikkelsen, Mads Østberg (Citroën) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) achieved this feat. Six drivers getting times within a tenth of a second of each other on a special stage is almost unheard of in the WRC. Incidentally, victory on the street stage Léon 2 went to Poland's Robert Kubica (Ford). With a time of 1:11.8 minutes he was two tenths of a second and three tenths of a second faster than his six pursuers.


Last update 23:03 (CET)

The special stages in detail.

 

SS 15: Seb still supreme – Andreas increases pressure on Østberg.
After the lunch break Sébastien Ogier has picked up where he left off before the service – with top performances behind the steering wheel. The Frenchman in the Polo R WRC took control and was able to extend his lead over Mads Østberg (Citroën) by a further 5.6 seconds to 1:13.9 minutes on the second pass of the special stage “Ibarilla”. Andreas Mikkelsen also put in a strong performance, and took just 0.8 seconds longer than Ogier to complete the special stage. The Norwegian is piling the pressure on Østberg, who is second overall. Only 4.9 seconds separate the two rivals now. Will the youngster manage to overtake the Citroën man on the next special stage that covers just under 43 kilometres, “Otates 2”?


21:40 (CET)

Relaxed, frustrated and eager to attack.

The three Volkswagen drivers are experiencing totally different sensations at the Rally Mexico.

Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) is on the way to his third Mexico win in a row. After the retirement of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, the Frenchman now has an advantage of more than a minute over his closest pursuer, Mads Østberg in the Citroën. “The duel with Jari-Matti was very intensive. My strategy was to not let him overtake me. That's why I went on full attack again on the first stages in the morning,” said Ogier. “Naturally there is much less pressure now and I need to rethink my strategy. But as we've seen, a minor error on the hard stages here can become serious quite quickly. It's certainly not going to be easy.”

Latvala was devastated after his early finish. “I don't really want to think about my chances in the championship at the moment,” said the Finn, who was forced to retire his Polo R WRC #2 after making a driver error on special stage 12. “I swerved to avoid a pothole in a fast bend and came off the line. In the next bend the rear of my car hit a slope. This bent the suspension, but the wheel stayed on initially.” Latvala tried to make it to the finish. “We have some wheel suspension parts on board as spares. I had hoped to be able to repair it after the finish.” But the left rear wheel came off – making it impossible to use the standard tools to make an emergency repair.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was in a much better mood. “Seeing as the first time that I had driven some of the stages was at race speed, I wasn't that far off the top,” said the delighted Norwegian, who is currently in third. “I feel that I can do a bit better. There were loads of bends where I was nowhere near my limit.”

Mikkelsen is embroiled in a gripping duel with his fellow countryman Østberg. He trails by 9.7 seconds after two thirds of the rally. “Can I catch him? I'm not sure, Mads knows this rally much better than I do. But I'm definitely going to try and keep putting pressure on him.”


Classification after 14 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:38:36.9    
2 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 2:39:45.2 +1:08.3  
3 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 2:39:54.9 +1:18.0  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt 2:40:29.4 +1:52.5  
5 D. Sordo / M. Martí 2:40:48.6 +2:11.7  
6 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:41:44.8 +3:07.9  
7 Y. Protasov / P. Cherepin (WRC 2) 2:46:09.4 +7:32.5  
8 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel (WRC 2) 2:46:46.9 +8:10.0  
9 J. Ketomaa / K. Lindström (WRC 2) 2:51:15.6 +12:38.7  
10 N. Fuchs / F. Musano (WRC 2) 2:52:24.3 +13:47.4  

Last update 20:45 (CET)

The special stages in detail.

 

SS 11: Dream start for Ogier and Latvala on the second leg.
What a start to the second leg for World Champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and runner-up Jari-Matti Latvala (#2). On the eleventh special stage, the 30.27-kilometre Ibarrilla 1, the two Volkswagen drivers were in a league of their own; overall leader Ogier won his fifth special stage at the 2015 Rally Mexico with a time of 17:41.4 minutes, ahead of Latvala who was just 0.2 seconds slower and finished in second. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was sixth on Special Stage 11, but remains fourth in the overall standings, behind Mads Østberg (Citroën).

 

SS 12: All over for Latvala, Ogier unstoppable.
The outcome of special stage Otates 1 was almost as spectacularly different for team-mates Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) as it could have been. While the World Champion from France set another fantastic time and celebrated his third successive special stage victory, Latvala's dream of a win in Mexico was crushed. About halfway through the course, the Finn slid off the track and lost his left rear wheel. The Volkswagen driver dragged himself across the finish line with a deficit of more than six minutes. This sees Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) move up into third in the overall standings – behind Mads Østberg (Citroën).

 

SS 13: Ogier keeps cool, Mikkelsen exerts pressure.
The World Champion remains cool: Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) didn't take his foot off the gas on the 8.25-kilometre special stage El Brinco 1, despite his closest pursuer Jari-Matti Latvala (#2) retiring. In 4:42.5 minutes, the leader in Mexico got the second-fastest time, trailing stage winner Dani Sordo (Hyundai) by 0.6 seconds. Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was third, just 0.7 seconds behind Ogier, and now trails second-placed Mads Østberg (Citroën) by just 9.7 seconds in the overall standings in third place and is poised and ready to pounce.

 

SS 14: Ogier has everything under control on asphalt too.
At the end of the first loop of the second leg, the drivers took to the streets of Léon for the second time. Robert Kubica (Ford) got the win on the short 1.37-kilometre asphalt special stage, Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) was two tenths of a second slower and finished in joint second alongside Dani Sordo (Hyundai) and Martin Prokop (Ford). Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (#9), Mads Østberg (Citroën) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) were in joint third place and only a further tenth of a second behind. Ogier now leads the overall standings with an advantage of more than a minute over Østberg, Mikkelsen is lying in wait in third place, 9.7 seconds behind his fellow Norwegian.


13:00 (CET)

Driver points yes, team points no.


Why Andreas Mikkelsen is unable to pick up WRC points for his team in Mexico for a second time.


Just like at the Rally Monte Carlo, Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) is fighting for championship points in the Drivers' standings in Mexico, but not for points in the Teams' standings. The Norwegian – strictly speaking the Volkswagen Motorsport II team – is only nominated for eleven of 13 WRC events in the 2015 season. The reason for this is the plan to also have Mikkelsen compete in a 2015 Polo R WRC as of the Rally Portugal. This would be a logistical nightmare if he would have to respect the rules for being able to pick up points in all WRC rallies.

 

A brief explanation of the regulations sheds some light on this. Before the start of the season, all officially registered teams need to specify in which WRC events they will use certain vehicle components (differentials, transmission, subframe, steering) more than once. Teams that want to pick up points in all 13 WRC rallies need to observe the following combinations – official term “linked rallies”: one combination of four, one combination of three and two pairs.

 

Logically, rallies of a similar character are linked. For example, the two asphalt rallies in Germany and France. The teams usually select the two extra special WRC rallies in Monte Carlo (asphalt, snow, ice) and Spain (gravel, asphalt) as their “free rallies” - the total of all combinations only adds up to eleven rallies.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen is not bound by this pattern because he plans to change from the 2014 version of the Polo R WRC to the 2015 version part way through the season. This means that he only needs to link two rallies four times, and has three “free rallies”.

 

The downside is that because Mikkelsen is only nominated for team points for eleven WRC events, he can only take part in eleven days of testing in the 2015 season. Volkswagen Motorsport's first team can make use of a total of 42 days of testing for the two drivers Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2).


Saturday: the special stages of the second stage.

12:00 (CET)


The Volkswagen drivers impress on a day dominated by retirements. Day one. The video.


CURRENT PICTURES (07)
LAST UPDATE: 00:02 (CET)


03:00 (CET)

Brilliant drive paves way to overnight lead.


Sébastien Ogier proved once again this afternoon why he is World Champion.

 

Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) had every reason to be happy with his day’s work. “Today was my best day since I started driving in the World Championship,” said the delighted Frenchman at the end of Friday’s leg – on a day that saw him open the route and consequently battle with dustier roads than anyone else. “I pushed as hard as possible in really difficult conditions, and without making a mistake. I am obviously particularly pleased that I played my joker with this morning’s tyre selection, which paid off 100 per cent. Sure it was a risk, but I had tried that set-up during the Shakedown, so I knew that it worked.”


At the end of the first leg, the World Champion led his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) by 13.5 seconds. “That is far better than I expected. I actually expected to be 30 to 40 seconds behind Jari-Matti at this point,” said Ogier.

 

Latvala’s mood has improved significantly since this morning: “The afternoon was much better,” said the Finn, who received mental support from an unexpected source. “As well as my race engineer Fabrice van Ertvelde, Sébastien’s wife Andrea also gave me a real lift during the midday break.” However, despite two stage wins he was only able to close the gap on leader Ogier by a mere 2.3 seconds. “I fear I may already have lost too much time to Séb to really mount a serious challenge.”


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was embroiled in an exciting duel with his fellow Norwegian Mads Østberg (Citroën) for the final podium place. However, he ended the first full day of the rally trailing his compatriot by 15.7 seconds. “The most important thing for me was to get through all the special stages without any problems, in order to get to know the route here in Mexico better.”

 

Ogier must no longer play the role of road sweeper for the rest of the field on the second leg. The rules state that any competitors rejoining under Rally2 conditions after retiring today must start ahead of him. A full six of the World Rally Car drivers are hoping they will be able to return to action on day two.


Classification after 10 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:45:03.0    
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:45:16.5 +13.5  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 1:45:32.5 +29.5  
4 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 1:45:48.2 +45.2  
5 E. Evans / D. Barritt 1:46:06.9 +1:03.9  
6 D. Sordo / M. Martí 1:46:43.5 +1:40.5  
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 1:47:06.5 +2:03.5  
8 Y. Protasov / P. Cherepin (WRC 2) 1:50:00.7 +4:57.7  
9 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel (WRC 2) 1:50:18.2 +5:15.2  
10 N. Fuchs / F. Musano (WRC 2) 1:53:01.7 +7:58.7  

Last update 01:50 (CET)

The special stages in detail.

 

SS 9: Latvala piles the pressure on Ogier.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) narrowly missed out on his third stage win in a row. Norwegian Mads Østberg (Citroën) won the ninth special stage (Las Minas 2), finishing 3.4 seconds ahead of the Finn. Team-mate Sébastien Ogier (#1) was third on the 15.54-kilometre stretch of route, while Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) was sixth fastest. It is a case of ‘as you were’ in the overall standings: Ogier still leads, ahead of Latvala, Østberg and Mikkelsen. “Jari is really pushing, but we still have a long way to go,” said Ogier, who has seen his team-mate cut his lead to just 10.9 seconds.

 

SS 10: Ogier responds to Latvala’s attacks.
Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) brought day one to a successful end: the leader claimed his fourth stage win of the Rally Mexico on the tenth stage to pull clear of the chasing pack again. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) finished second on the 4.6-kilometre Super Special 2, followed by Martin Prokop (Ford). Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was fourth fastest, followed by his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (#2). Ogier’s lead over the Finn is now back up to 13.5 seconds. Mikkelsen is currently fourth, 15.7 seconds behind Mads Østberg (Citroën).

Friday, 06.03.2015


23:45 (CET)

Having been somewhat disgruntled with his performance over the opening special stages, Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) claimed his first stage win of the 2015 Rally Mexico on Los Mexicanos 2. It was the fourth success of the season for last year’s runner-up in the World Championship – and the 20th for Volkswagen Motorsport.

 

At the season-opener in Monte Carlo, it was Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) who secured the team’s only two stage wins. A further 14 were to follow in Sweden: nine for Ogier, three for Latvala and two for Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). After the opening seven special stages in Mexico, of which Ogier won three and Latvala two, Volkswagen Motorsport now has 20 stage wins to its name.

 

By this point in the 2015 season, a total of 42 special stages had been contested. That is a win rate of 48 per cent for Volkswagen Motorsport. This means, on average, that the Polo R WRC has won almost every other special stage – long may that continue.


Last update 23:30 (CET)

The special stages in detail.

 

SS 7: Volkswagen trio on top – Latvala bags his first stage win.
The Volkswagen drivers appeared to enjoy the seventh special stage (Los Mexicanos 2): Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) tasted his first success of this year’s Rally Mexico on the 9.91-kilometre stretch. “Good stage, I am happy,” said the Finn. Leader Sébastien Ogier (#1) was second fastest, 1.6 seconds ahead of his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (#9), who shared third place with Spain’s Dani Sordo (Hyundai). Latvala closed the gap to second-placed Thierry Neuville in the overall standings. Ogier continues to lead the field by eleven seconds, whilst Mikkelsen is well-placed in fifth.

 

SS 8: Volkswagen drivers continue to set the pace.
Jari-Matti Latvala’s (Polo R WRC #2) challenge is picking up momentum. The Finn won the eighth stage (El Chocolate 2) ahead of team-mates Sébastien Ogier (#1) and Andreas Mikkelsen (#9). The Volkswagen trio also benefitted from the retirement of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). Latvala climbs into second place behind Ogier in the overall standings, with Mikkelsen now fourth. “I had far more grip than in the morning,” said Ogier, who was about 25 seconds faster that the first time they tackled the same stage (El Chocolate 1).


20:23 (CET)

Full house in tyre lottery.

 

Sébastien Ogier had already stolen a march on the opposition by the time he left the service park.

 

Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) both took a chance. They headed into the morning loop with two soft tyres and two hards – plus a spare tyre with the harder compound – while the likes of Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) took four hard and just one soft tyre with him. And the risk paid off. After six special stages, Ogier leads Neuville by 8.9 seconds, with Latvala trailing 15 seconds back in third place.

 

“The tyre selection was my means of compensating for the disadvantage of having to open the route,” said Ogier on arrival at the midday service. “That worked really well, although we did have a bit of luck with the weather.” While the sun was shining over the service park in León, the sky over the mountains – and thus over the special stages – was overcast. “I have never known it be so cold in Mexico. It was even foggy,” said Jari-Matti Latvala, who was anything but happy with the way the morning panned out. “My tyre selection was wrong,” the Finn admitted. He had fit his only soft tyre on the front axle. My car had serious oversteer with two hard tyres on the rear axle. That is why I never really had full confidence in it.”


In contrast, Ogier, Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) all turned to the so-called crossover format: one soft and a hard tyre on the front axle, and the same but on opposite sides of the car on the rear axle. “Only on the long ‘El Chocolate’ stage did I fit four hard tyres,” reported Mikkelsen, who was the only Volkswagen driver to leave the morning service with two spare wheels.


The tyre selection was ideal, but not so his knowledge of the route. Not quite yet. “I still lack a bit of experience of Mexico compared to Séb and Jari-Matti. That is why I did not go all out on the attack,” said Mikkelsen, who lies sixth after the morning loop, 33 seconds off the lead.


The Volkswagen drivers and their rivals in the other works teams have just 40 tyres at their disposal for the entire Rally Mexico, 24 of which are the hard compound – presumably the unanimous choice of tyre in the afternoon, as the temperatures have increased significantly.


Classification after 6 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 53:55.5    
2 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 54:05.1 +9.6  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 54:11.3 +15.8  
4 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 54:19.9 +24.4  
5 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 54:29.5 +34.0  
6 E. Evans / D. Barritt 54:29.6 +34.1  
7 D. Sordo / M. Martí 55:02.1 +1:06.6  
8 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 55:03.0 +1:07.5  
9 Y. Protasov / P. Cherepin (WRC 2) 56:04.2 +2:08.7  
10 B. Guerra / B. Rozada 56:09.7 +2:14.2  

Last update 19:55 (CET)

The special stages in detail.

 

SS 3: Seb defends narrow lead.
A gripping dust battle is hotting up: The third special stage (Los Mexicanos), which kicked off Friday's rally action, was closely contested. Leader Sébastien Ogier got the third-fastest time on the section covering just under ten kilometres and was just about able to defend his overall lead. However, with a deficit of just two tenths of a second, Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) is virtually in the Volkswagen man's slipstream. Britain's Kris Meeke (Citroën) got the best time. Ogier's team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala are in fourth and fifth place in the overall standings.

 

SS 4: Ogier with a magical time – lead extended considerably.
Wow, what a strong performance from the World Champion! The Frenchman was unbeatable on the 44 kilometres of the second-longest section of the Rally Mexico, "El Chocolate". Pursuer Thierry Neuville couldn't keep up with his pace and dropped back by more than 13 seconds. Even Mads Østberg, who got the second-fastest time was almost nine seconds slower. While things are going great for Séb, team-mate Latvala is struggling with the conditions: “It's incredible how slippery it was. I'm not at all happy with our performance,” said the annoyed Finn at the finish line. Latvala lost more than ten seconds off the top, but is now in third place overall after Citroën driver Kris Meeke retired. Andreas Mikkelsen is in fifth.

 

SS 5: “Clever tyre selection pays off.”
It's still exciting: Volkswagen duo Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia still lead after the fifth special stage in Mexico (Las Minas 1), however, the best time went to Thierry Neuville. The Belgian managed to reduce his deficit to Ogier by 4.4 seconds. But Ogier was pleased with the morning's rallying: “We made a clever tyre selection, which is paying off now,” said the delighted front-runner. With the third-fastest time, Jari-Matti Latvala wasn't much slower than Séb and remains in third place overall. Andreas Mikkelsen dropped down into sixth place.

 

SS 6: A successful morning for the World Champion.
The WRC drivers took on the 1.37-kilometre street stage Léon just before half-time on Friday. As expected, the mini special stage didn't see any major changes in the overall standings. Sébastien Ogier was unbeatable once again. The Frenchman took 1:12.4 minutes to complete the short asphalt section. Pursuer and second-placed in the overall standings Thierry Neuville was 0.7 seconds slower. The gap stands at 9.6 seconds after the first part of today's rally schedule. Jari-Matti Latvala is in third overall and trails by 15.8 seconds, Mikkelsen moved up into fifth. He is 34 seconds off the top.


13:00 (CET)

Like wearing a snorkel to run a marathon.

In the Mexican altitude the turbo engines lose about a quarter of their power. Without the skills of the engineers the loss would be greater.

Léon in Mexico, 06 March. The sun beats down on the service park, the thermometer registers 25 degrees Centigrade in the morning. The contrast with wintery central Sweden where the WRC was held just three weeks ago couldn't be much greater. However, another difference is only noticeable on closer inspection – the altitude. While Karlstad is practically at sea level, the altimeter in Léon registers more than 1,800 metres.

 

The contrasts in temperature and air pressure mean that the WRC events in Sweden and Mexico make for the two extremes in terms of engine performance. Cold air with plenty of oxygen and high air pressure at sea level – almost perfect conditions for a turbo engine in a World Rally Car. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine in the Polo R WRC gives its drivers around 320 hp in these conditions. Not much of this makes it to Mexico, where the cars drive at altitudes that are almost always above 2,000 metres, and go up to just over 2,700 metres. “In the sections at the highest altitudes the engines lose about 28 to 30 percent of their power compared with the Rally Sweden,” explained Donatus Wichelhaus, head of engine development at Volkswagen Motorsport.

 

It goes without saying that the engineers counter this with a specially developed program for the engine electronics. However, restrictive factors include the maximum permitted boost of 2.5 bar, the amount of fuel injected into the engine with each cycle that is reduced as a result of the lower percentage of oxygen in the air and the mandatory air restrictor in the intake passage. The air restrictor has a diameter of just 33 millimetres. “That's like a marathon runner having to breathe through a snorkel,” described Wichelhaus.

 

At the same time, the lower air resistance in the turbocharger means that the paddle wheels that rotate at around 150,000 revolutions per minute reach higher speeds than at other rallies. However, the turbocharger is a mandatory standard component stipulated by the regulations, and isn't even allowed to be modified for the Rally Mexico. Once again the engine electronics ensure that the charger doesn't sustain any damage despite the extreme pressure.

 

Test drives outside of Europe are banned in the World Rally Championship. That's why the engineers rely on simulations in their own engine test bench and even more so on past experiences. This gives Volkswagen Motorsport the perfect position. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) has won the Rally Mexico in the previous two years.

 

The World Champion and his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) can rely on their cars even at altitudes of up to 2,700 metres. In comparison: Germany's highest mountain, Zugspitze, is not even 300 metres higher. But you won't find any rally tracks up there.


Friday: the special stages of the first stage.

12:00 (CET)


Volkswagen drivers relish the challenge in Mexico. The video.


CURRENT PICTURES (16)
LAST UPDATE: 05:00 (CET)


Classification after 2 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4:13.0    
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 4:14.2 +1.2  
2 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 4:14.2 +1.2  
4 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4:14.8 +1.8  
5 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 4:15.1 +2.1  
6 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 4:15.7 +2.7  
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder 4:15.9 +2.9  
8 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 4:16.8 +3.8  
9 D. Sordo / M. Martí 4:17.6 +4.6  
10 L. Bertelli / G. Bernacchini 4:18.3 +5.3  

Last update 04:30 (CET)

The first two special stages.

 

SS 1: Ogier and Mikkelsen tied in third place.
Tens of thousands of fans created a fantastic atmosphere at the start of the Rally Mexico in Guanajuato. Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) ended the 1.01-kilometre street stage tied in third place with a time of 53.2 seconds. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) was seventh in 53.7 seconds. Victory on the opening stage went to Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) with the fastest time of 52.8 seconds, ahead of Lorenzo Bertelli (Ford). Latvala was impressed by the location. “This is a great place to start the rally,” said the Finn before the start of round three of the World Rally Championship.

 

SS 2: Volkswagen one-two-three – Ogier leads Mikkelsen and Latvala.
The world champion is confirming his fine form: Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) clocked the fastest time of 3:19.8 minutes to win the 4.60-kilometre Super Special 1 stage ahead of fellow Volkswagen drivers Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) and Jari-Matti Latvala (#2). Mikkelsen, who trailed Ogier by 1.2 seconds, was just 0.1 seconds faster than his Finnish team-mate. This result completes a successful start to the Rally Mexico for Volkswagen, who can look ahead to the next few days with confidence. “I will do my best tomorrow, when it really matters,” said Ogier.


Friday: the special stages one and two.

00:00 (CET)

Previews


Thursday, 05.03.2015

20:20 (CET)

Sébastien Ogier fastest in shakedown.


Free practice in Mexico was used for more extensive testing than usual.

 

Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) secured the best time in the shakedown ahead of the Rally Mexico. Last year's winner was 2.2 seconds faster than Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) on the five-and-a-half-kilometer track; Kris Meeke (Citroën) was a further 0.3 seconds behind in third.

 

Ogier opted for an unusually high number of laps in the shakedown, completing five passes. “I tried two different set-up variants,” explained the World Champion. “One for the first passes of the special stages when loose gravel will still be on the track. The second variant for the second loop in the afternoon when the track will be extremely worn.”

 

Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) opted for the same strategy, and got the fourth-fastest time after also completing five passes. “From experience, the character of the rally changes completely between the morning and the afternoon. It gets a lot rougher,” said the Finn. “This might mean that I need to tune the chassis even more for the second loop.”


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) even drove six laps to make sure he is well prepared for the first gravel rally of the year. “The last two WRC events were on asphalt, ice and snow. That's why I was a bit careful on the first passes in the shakedown, to get the feel for gravel again. Maybe I chose a chassis tuning that was too soft,” said the Norwegian who finished in sixth. “On the other hand, the shakedown track was probably tougher than the rest of the rally.”

 

Next up on the schedule is the spectacular ceremonial start in Guanajuato, about 50 kilometres away. Up to 80,000 fans are expected in the silver mining town that is listed as a world heritage site.


Sunday, 01.03.2015

Cowboy boots up for grabs.


Prizes with a local touch are something of a tradition at Rally Mexico. And at least two of the Volkswagen drivers are already practising their Wild West swagger.


After ice and snow in the Alps around Monte Carlo and in central Sweden’s Värmland region, it’s now time for the Volkswagen drivers to tackle the first gravel rally of the year, in Mexico. It won’t just be the hot summer temperatures in the mountains around León, approximately 300 kilometres north of Mexico City, that will be in stark contrast to the first two events. The route also frequently goes up to altitudes well in excess of 2,000 metres, which is tough not only on the human body – due to the air’s lower oxygen content, the power output of the vehicles’ turbocharged engines can drop by up to 30 per cent here too.

 

The winner will ultimately be crowned on gravel, but some of the 21 special stages are actually asphalt all the way, such as the opening Guanajuato Street Stage. Some 50,000 fans are expected to flock to the historic old town of Guanajuato to see the spectacle of rally cars racing through the city streets over a distance of just under a kilometre. And there is even some underground action, as the route also includes a stretch that goes through an old mine. This is then followed by a super special stage at a racetrack on the outskirts of León.

 

But the rally proper really only gets going on Friday, when the drivers will head up to altitudes of more than 2,000 metres in the Sierra de Lobos and the Sierra Guanajuato. The eye of the storm on Friday is the innocuous-sounding El Chocolate stage – but with a distance of more than 44 kilometres, this is anything but a treat for the competitors. The longest stage on Saturday, the Otates stage, is likewise more than 40 kilometres. Things then get even tougher still on Sunday with the mammoth 56-kilometre Guanajuatito stage, which is one of the longest stages the drivers will have to tackle all season.

 

Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) doubts very much that he will be the proud recipient of the prize of cowboy boots for a third consecutive time here. “It’s not possible to win in Mexico if you start out in front,” says the current overall leader, commenting on the effects of the loose gravel on the tracks. Following a change to the rules, the reigning world champion will have to start ahead of the other entrants for almost all of the rally (approximately 320 of the 395 timed kilometres), and will therefore serve as their ‘road sweeper’.

 

“This year, poorer results in the first half of the year won’t have quite such a dramatic impact as they did before,” says Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2), analysing the new running order rules. He will be the fourth driver to set off in Rally Mexico, behind Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Polo R WRC (#9). “My starting position is therefore pretty much perfect,” says Latvala, who is hoping for all the parameters to come together for him to clinch his first championship title this season. Mikkelsen is a hot tip for a win now too, with two third places in Monte Carlo and Sweden already under his belt. These two Volkswagen drivers would certainly be delighted to add a pair of original Mexican cowboy boots to their trophy collections.


Friday, 27.02.2015

“I cannot afford to make any more mistakes.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I have won the first two rallies of the season, which is very reassuring for me. The pressure is definitely not on me, but those drivers behind me in the championship. As a driver, you gain extra confidence when you win a battle as close as the one between Andreas Mikkelsen, Thierry Neuville and me in Sweden. The past two rallies in Mexico have shown how comfortable I feel in Mexico. And in recent years our Volkswagen Polo R WRC has always coped superbly with the thin air at high altitude in Mexico. We can only wait and see whether the same is true in 2015 and our powerful engine can compensate for our early starting position.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am looking forward to the Rally Mexico, as I have some amends to make and because, as the fourth-placed man in the World Championship, I have an ideal starting position. The starting position can be decisive at the first gravel rally of the year. My goal for Mexico is to close the gap to Thierry Neuville, Andreas and Sébastien as much as possible. I missed out on points in Sweden. However, that is part and parcel of this sport and not something I can do anything about now. I now have to look forward and make the best of the situation I find myself in. When you look back through the history books, most world champions have scored points at pretty much every race. As such, I cannot afford to make any more mistakes.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“At the moment, a lot of people are talking about how I missed out on victory at the Rally Sweden. To be honest, though, I moved on from that a long time ago. It was unquestionably very disappointing for me, as I came within touching distance of my maiden WRC win. However, I prefer to take the positives out of it and now travel to Mexico full of confidence. I am matching Seb and Jari-Matti for pace at the moment. That is important for me, and I will not be hiding behind anyone in Mexico. Furthermore, my third place in Sweden has had a pleasant knock-on effect: I start as the third car onto the route at the Rally Mexico, so will not have to do so much road sweeping.”


Wednesday, 25.02.2015

Time to get rough and ready!

 

Dust, heat and very thin air – Rally Mexico really puts both man and machine to the test. But just how much do you know about the first gravel rally of the season? What’s Volkswagen Motorsport’s track record in Mexico? Who won the first Rally Mexico? And which German driver most recently did well there? Put your knowledge to the test in this quiz – it’s the perfect way to gear yourself up for the 2015 Rally Mexico. Good luck!

 

Start the quiz


Monday, 23.02.2015

Mexican wave.

 

All three Volkswagen drivers have their sights set on winning Rally Mexico.

 

It’s fair to say that Sébastien Ogier likes going to Mexico: there’s a fantastic atmosphere at the first gravel rally of the year, the special stages are demanding, and the Frenchman who drives for Volkswagen always has good reason to be happy at the end of the rally – at least, that’s the way things have been in the past few years. Ogier was in a league of his own in 2013 and 2014, clocking up a lead of more than a minute over the second-placed driver last year and a whopping lead of more than three minutes two years ago. The driver of the Polo R WRC #1 won two-thirds of all the special stages (30 out of 45) and also secured three bonus points in the closing power stage in both seasons – it doesn’t get much better than that.

 

But his teammates intend to really give Ogier a run for his money this year: the championship runner-up Jari-Matti Latvala has never managed to score a win in Mexico and now resolutely intends to eradicate this blemish from his rallying track record. The Finn, who drives the Polo R WRC #2, is also eager to clinch his first win of the current season, so as not to slip too far back in the overall rankings following his disappointing result in Sweden. And he’s in with a good chance of doing just that, as his Scandinavian setback means he now has a much better starting position than Ogier.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen has likewise tasted blood. The youngster came within sniffing distance of his first ever WRC win in Sweden, but a minor mistake during the final stage proved to be his downfall and he ultimately had to make do with third place. Now the Norwegian in the Polo R WRC #9 is ready to attack again – in spite of not having won a single stage in his first stab at Mexico in 2014, which saw him cross the finishing line more than an hour slower than the rest, at the end of what was a difficult weekend for him. But this year, Mikkelsen most definitely won’t be giving us a repeat performance.