WRC

Rally Mexico: Round three final summary

Petter Solberg (Subaru) cruised through the final day to give his team's 2005 car a winning debut. He won by 34.5sec and moves into the lead of the drivers' championship. Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) offered no challenge today, happy to settle for...

Petter Solberg (Subaru) cruised through the final day to give his team's 2005 car a winning debut. He won by 34.5sec and moves into the lead of the drivers' championship. Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) offered no challenge today, happy to settle for second with team-mate Markko Martin content to hold third. Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was fastest on both stages to overcome his four-minute time loss during the opening leg and climb to fourth, overhauling both Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) and Gardemeister on the final stage. Ninth was sufficient for Armin Schwarz (Skoda) to claim the final manufacturers' point. Francois Duval (Citroen) restarted under the SupeRally rules after retiring yesterday but after completing both stages he retired on the liaison section back to the finish with more engine problems. Chris Atkinson (Subaru), also rejoining after retiring yesterday, retired for a second time just 2km from the end of the last stage with no oil pressure in his car's engine.

Subaru

Petter Solberg and the new Subaru Impreza WRC2005 won Rally Mexico by a margin of 34.5 seconds today. Having led the event from start to finish, the Norwegian took six stage wins to claim his second WRC victory of the year and the 12th of his career. Claiming ten points in both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships, Petter and co-driver Phi Mills now lead the Drivers' standings. Their success also marked Subaru's 46th WRC victory, the 45th with the Impreza and was the perfect result for the debut of the new Subaru Impreza WRC2005. Competing for the first time as a nominated driver for the Subaru team and for only the second time in a WRC car, his team-mate Chris Atkinson delivered another impressive performance. The young Australian set some encouraging split times before retiring with a technical problem on the final stage.

Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: It's incredible, I'm just so happy! To get a win with the old car in Sweden and another with the new one here is a great feeling - for sure there's still more to come from this car but I'm very happy with the progress we've made already. It's also very special to be able to win here for Mr Kuze. Without him, none of this would be possible, and I'm pleased to be able to dedicate this win to him. At the end of the day this result is all about teamwork, and I'm lucky to have such a great group of people behind me, from Phil in the car to everyone else at Subaru, I can't thank them enough. The Championship is getting pretty close now, there's some very close competition and I reckon this year will turn out to be one of the greatest battles we've ever seen in the WRC.

Chris Atkinson/Glen Macneall: Obviously I'm a bit disappointed not to finish, but I think I've learned so much this weekend it's almost irrelevant. The speed has been encouraging; especially as I wasn't pushing so much that we went off the road all the time. The new car feels great, and there's definitely more pace in it yet. In New Zealand I'm going to be looking to get some good experience of the stages and hopefully a useful finish position too.

Citroen

By Saturday evening, after dropping down the order on Leg 1, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena had already succeeded in carving their way back up to 6th place. To stand a chance of progressing even further up the leaderboard, the challenge was simple: they needed to take 36 seconds off Harri Rovanpera and 37.4s off Toni Gardemeister over the final day's two stages which totalled 62.65 km; an average of just under half a second per kilometre. The Frenchman put in a stunning performance on the last two stages of the event to do just that and record a fabulous 4th place finish.

Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: I have been pushing very hard since yesterday. And today I turned it up a further notch. I honestly drove the final stage as though victory depended on it. It was a near-perfect run, perhaps one of the best of my career. Finishing 4th allows me to stay on the heels of the championship leaders and also keeps Citroën in the frame."

Francois Duval / Stephane Prevot: "They say problems come in threes. I've now done three rallies without being able to defend my chances all the way to the flag and the championship will really begin for me in New Zealand. That said, this was my first outing on gravel with the Xsara. My pace allowed me to compete for 3rd place before my problems. That gives an idea of the potential of the car and the team and that is reassuring concerning my familiarisation with both."

Ford

BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen finished sixth on the Corona Rally Mexico today to extend Ford's record-breaking points scoring tally to 47 rallies with the Focus RS World Rally Car. The Finns maintained their 100 per cent record in this season's FIA World Rally Championship and edged the BP-Ford squad closer to a magical 50 consecutive points finishes, a record dating back to the Monte Carlo Rally in 2002.

Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen: "I couldn't have driven any faster today, I was flat out all the way. I'm a little disappointed with my final position but happy that we finished in the points. I made some mistakes on the opening day and had it not been for that I think I could have finished higher. I didn't have a good feeling with the car yesterday but the Focus has been strong throughout on what has been a difficult and tough rally."

Roman Kresta/Jan Tomanek: Retired (Suspension)

Daniel Sola/Amigo: Retired (Accident)

Peugeot

After an excellent double podium result on the all-gravel Rally Mexico, Peugeot takes the lead of the World Rally Championship for the first time since Rally Australia 2003. Marcus Gronholm has finished second and Markko Martin is third, at the end of a tough rally that clearly demonstrated the speed and reliability of the 307 WRC.

Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen: "Today was actually a bit boring - we were just driving to get to the finish of the rally without making any mistakes. I was very glad to see the end; it has been a very tricky event and I was concentrating extremely hard on not taking any unnecessary risks. This has not really been a rally I enjoyed, but the most important thing is that the car has been extremely reliable and we are on the podium. Next is Rally New Zealand - it's an event I like a lot so I am looking forward to it."

Markko Martin/Michael Park: "I'm quite happy with third place and to keep second in the driver's championship: it was more than I was expecting at this point in the year. With every kilometre I drive in the 307 WRC I gain more experience and confidence, so this is a very good way to start the season. There are still some areas where we need to improve the car to suit my driving style, but we are definitely on the right track."

Skoda

Armin Schwarz and Jani Paasonen ended Rally Mexico in ninth and 13th places respectively. The Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team's newly homologated Fabia WRC 05 showed its improved potential but the event proved difficult as the team had no previous knowledge of the demanding conditions that caused problems even before the start of the rally.

Armin Schwarz/Klaus Wicha: "Our target today was simply to reach the finish safely and be in the points. It was a difficult rally and I was happier with the car's performance than mine."

Jani Paasonen/Janni Vainikka: "We lost the automatic gear-shift on the final stage and we also hit a cow that had been frightened by a helicopter. The car felt better this morning but I am disappointed with my result here after starting so well on the first stage on Friday."

Mitsubishi

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team scored points with both its nominated Lancer WRC05s in the Corona Rally Mexico, the third round of the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship. Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen fought hard to finish fifth and team-mates Gilles and Herve Panizzi took two points for eighth place. This result marks the fourth consecutive rally that Mitsubishi has brought all its cars to the finish.

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen: "I'm happy with fifth place but it was a very tough rally. We drove as hard as we could today; it was hard enough to get past Gardemeister but not fast enough to stay ahead of Loeb. The only thing that happened in the last stage was spectators throwing stones at us and while we didn't lose much time it put a big dent in the windscreen and I lost concentration each time it happened. Whether it would have made up the seven seconds we lost to Loeb, who knows, but our performance was still quite good."

Gilles Panizzi/Herve Panizzi: "It is good that we have two cars at the finish and that we both scored points. Now we have to push and work very hard for the next rally; in my opinion we should be competing for podium positions. Now we have to work on our performance. We know we have a strong car, we just need to make it handle a bit more confidently on gravel." _ Next Event:
The WRC crews face their longest journey of the season for round four next month. Auckland hosts the all-gravel Rally New Zealand on 7 - 10 April, characterised by it's fast and flowing loose surface roads.

-rallyenewsletter-

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About this article
Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team