An outstanding driver at the wheel of competitive technology: the first full day of competition on gravel for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC ended with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F) at the top of the overall standings at the Rally Mexico. Ogier won seven special stages and claimed nine of eleven possible top-three results on the longest day of the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), which saw the competitors tackle 160.75 kilometres against the clock.
In contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were struck by incredible misfortune in the second Polo R WRC. Just 300 metres into day two of the rally, the Finnish pair hit a large stone lying in the road just round a blind corner. A broken wishbone meant an early end to the day for Latvala and Anttila. The so-called Rally-2 regulation allows them to rejoin the rally on Saturday, but they will consequently be awarded a 50-minute penalty for the stages they did not complete. However, this does give them the opportunity to pick up the bonus points towards the World Championship, which are awarded to the first three drivers in Sunday’s Power Stage.
Quotes, Day Two of the Rally Mexico
That was the shortest stage I have ever driven.
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“That was the shortest stage I have ever driven. The dust from the previous car was still in the air, so vision was not great. 300 metres after the start we were rounding a right-hander when we came across a stone the size of a melon right on the racing line. As it was not possible to avoid the stone at the speed we were travelling, I tried to position it centrally between the two front wheels and line it up as well as possible with the underride protection. The impact was not particularly strong, but the stone damaged the right wishbone. It was just unlucky. The rock had probably been pulled out onto the road by one of the cars in front of us. We were obviously very disappointed at first, but I hope that is the end of my run of bad luck. I will start again tomorrow and, as a result of the big time penalty, will view the rally as a test and an opportunity to gain more experience in the Polo R WRC.”
“I am obviously very happy with today’s result. The special stages were not easy, with a lot of stones, loose gravel and little grip. The 30 kilometres on ‘El Chocolate’, in particular, were extremely demanding. That made it all the more pleasing that we had built up a small cushion by then. Everyone in the team is delighted that the Polo R WRC appears also to be quick on gravel. However, we have to bear in mind that there is still a very long way to go at this rally, and the toughest stages are still ahead of us.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“A day of ups and downs for Volkswagen. The good news is that the Polo R WRC is also competitive on gravel and that Sébastien Ogier’s outstanding performance behind the wheel means he leads the rally after over 160 kilometres. We would have liked to have seen how Jari-Matti Latvala faired, but unfortunately he was unlucky today and had to give up after only a few metres. The broken wishbone shows that there is still work to be done on the car. However, this is precisely the kind of thing you experience when a new car makes its first appearance at a gravel rally.”
And then there were ...
... the luxurious working conditions at the Service Park in León. The blistering sun and dusty routes are reserved for the special stages at this incredible rally in Mexico. A unique feature of the Rally Mexico is the Poliforum in Léon, which hosts the only covered Service Park of the entire WRC season. This provides some welcome shade for the teams and the many fans who flock to the Service Park to check out what goes on behind the scenes during a service.