The Dani Sordo's penalty promoted Mad Østberg into third place and his second podium in just three events.
M-Sport World Rally Teams Mads Østberg has jumped to second place in the FIA World Rally Championship standings – courtesy of a podium finish behind the wheel of his Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC at this weekend's Rally Mexico.
Delivering a flawless drive alongside compatriot co-driver Ola Fløene, the Norwegian adopted an intelligent approach and – despite falling back from the leading pack – remained calm with a steady rhythm that delivered results.
Avoiding the pitfalls that catch out a number of crews year on year, the pairing reaped the rewards whilst demonstrating the strength and reliability of M-Sport's top-specification Fiesta.
In a last minute twist, third-placed man Dani Sordo was penalised two minutes for using 29 Michelin tyres instead of the allocated 28. The penalty promoted Østberg into third place and his second podium in just three events.
...with Dani's penalty we have now been promoted to third, but the result is still the same for me.
Only World Champion Sebastien Ogier has had a better start to the season, and Østberg is keen to improve further as the championship continues.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Éric Camilli was contesting only the eighth gravel event of his career. Discovering Mexico's demanding stages for the first time, the weekend proved character building for the Frenchman.
Having suffered a puncture and a gear shift issue on the opening day of competition, he and co-driver Benjamin Veillas were keen to progress and started well – setting the same pace as their vastly more experienced team mate through 'Ibarrilla' (SS11). Unfortunately, they would not reach the flying finish.
Clipping a rock that had been dislodged by rally-winner Jari-Matti Latvala on a fast right-hander, the Frenchman damaged the steering of his Fiesta RS WRC which brought his day to an untimely end.
Returning under Rally 2 regulations today, Camilli completed all of the stages to gain the vital knowledge and experience that will see him progress his performance in events to come.
The Frenchman also delivered four manufacturer points which adds his name to the record books. Thanks to the performance of both Østberg and Camilli, Ford and M-Sport secured their 200th consecutive points-scoring finish this weekend – an impressive achievement that will prove difficult for any other manufacturer to match.
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Mads Østberg (3rd) said: "It's been a difficult rally but we have really enjoyed it and I was happy to finish in fourth place. Of course with Dani's penalty we have now been promoted to third, but the result is still the same for me.
"I think we have driven well all weekend and we've secured some good points for the championship. The set-up is also working really well on gravel, but I think it's also fair to say that both myself and the team were expecting a bit more.
"We know that we have some work to do and we have some ideas that will hopefully allow us to be more competitive at the next events. We want to be challenging at the top, and I think everyone is capable and determined to achieve that."
Éric Camilli (16th) said: "I knew that this was going to be a very difficult event, but we are here and we have gained a lot of experience. Every kilometre I get with the Fiesta RS WRC I learn a little bit more – especially on gravel where my experience is so limited. From the very first stage I had a very good feeling with the car, and I am still very positive because I know that I am learning all the time.
"Next we have another new event for me in Argentina. It’s not an easy start to the season with Monte, Sweden, Mexico and Argentina but we will try to do our best and complete all of the stages. My motivation is still very high because I know that my mistake on Saturday was a very unlucky one – especially when you see the onboard. But, we need to keep learning and make sure that we finish the events, even when we are unlucky."
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: "Second in the championship is a fantastic position for Mads and it just goes to prove what our team is capable of. Admittedly, we were hoping for more, so we need to understand why he wasn't able to produce the speed we were aiming for – but all credit to the team for delivering another strong and reliable performance.
"It's been a tough event for Éric but we have once again seen glimpses of his potential and what he can achieve once he has the experience to match. To be setting the same pace as Mads on what is only the eighth gravel rally of his career is no mean feat and he remains positive ahead of the next event.
"This has also been a record-breaking event for us as we achieved the 200th consecutive points-scoring finish for Ford. Winning rallies is largely down to the drivers, but finishing rallies is down to the team and all credit must be given to every single member of our dedicated team. This is a massive achievement, and one which will be very difficult for another manufacturer to match."
M-Sport World Rally Team