Carlos Sainz (Citroen) was the only challenger to the Ford BP duo on the final leg. However, his chances ended midway though the third stage when his brakes failed and the Spaniard rolled. It took more than a minute to push his car back onto its...
Carlos Sainz (Citroen) was the only challenger to the Ford BP duo on the final leg. However, his chances ended midway though the third stage when his brakes failed and the Spaniard rolled. It took more than a minute to push his car back onto its wheels and he had to settle for third. Petter Solberg (Subaru) recovered superbly from his five minute penalty at the end of the opening leg to climb back to fourth, moving ahead of team-mate Mikko Hirvonen on the penultimate stage. Marcus Grönholm (Peugeot) set two fastest times today to retain his overnight sixth while amateur Jussi Valimaki and Gilles Panizzi (Mitsubishi) completed the drivers' points scorers. Harri Rovanperä (Peugeot) climbed back to 10th after suspension problems yesterday to take the final manufacturers' point.
Ford BP Rallye Sport claimed a superb 1-2 finish on the gruelling Corona Rally Mexico today and now heads both the drivers' and manufacturers' standings in the FIA World Rally Championship. Markko Märtin and Michael Park secured their third world rally victory, their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car returning to the finish in Leon 42.5sec ahead of the similar car of François Duval and Stéphane Prévot after three days of gruelling competition.
Markko Martin / Michael Park: "It's been a tremendous weekend for us and Ford," he said. "We've all worked hard as a team and we deserve this result. To lead the manufacturers' championship by such a margin is fantastic. We've had a few small problems but we've always kept on top of them. It has been a difficult event and hard for the cars but that makes victory all the better. My only mistake was a spin on the first day. Apart from that we've stayed to our plan and kept out of trouble. There was no point in trying to drive too quickly. Too many others did that and hit problems. It was necessary to be patient."
Francois Duval / Stephan Prévot: "It's the first time I have finished second on a world rally and I'm so happy," said 23-year-old Duval. "I have had a perfect car for three days, it gave me no worries at all. It's like new and all the team have really had to do is to fit a new bumper. The rally was a new event for everyone and it's not been an easy weekend. We were under no pressure today and would have been happy to have finished third. But when Carlos crashed and we moved into second it completed a great three days. To finish first and second is the kind of result that teams dream of but to do it on a rally which is new to everyone makes it even more special."
After their outstanding start to the season with wins in the first two rounds of the 2004 World Rally Championship season in Monte Carlo and Sweden, the Championship's debut round in Mexico has reminded Citroën just how unforgiving rallying can be, but a third place for Carlos Sainz was just enough to keep Citroën in second place for manufacturers' title chase and Citroën's Loeb is now first equal in the drivers title race.
Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti: "Starting off on the third loop, I did my best to get rid over any pressure from the 'tyre incident'," explained Carlos. "I tried to go as quickly as possible while managing the tyres' wear rate. Today, the rally has had its fair share of surprises. It could be the same again tomorrow. Nothing is over yet - it is still all to play for!"
Continuing his remarkable recovery after losing five minutes 40 seconds at the end of Leg one, Petter Solberg delivered another commanding performance in his new Subaru Impreza WRC2004 today to make up another place on the leaderboard and finish the rally fourth overall. The Norwegian won nine of the fifteen special stages, and regained nine of the twelve places he lost with the penalty on Friday. After a trouble free rally, Mikko Hirvonen finished fifth fastest in his Subaru Impreza WRC2004 to score his highest ever WRC finish and collect points for Subaru.
Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: To lose 5 minutes 40 seconds on Friday, but still finish in fourth place is a pretty incredible result I think and I'm very happy. We know where we could have been if it wasn't for that penalty, but that's just how it is sometimes. I'm feeling very positive about the way the new car felt to drive. It's even better than I had expected, a real improvement, and I think the number of stage wins has proved how good it is. I've really enjoyed this new event, the stages were fantastic and apart from the incident on Friday I've had really good fun here in Mexico.
Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen: Yes, I'm really happy with the result. I think I could have got better had I been pushing but that's not what this one was all about for me. I've learnt quite a lot about the new car and the Pirelli's on gravel. I've made a few changes along the way which I think will be of real benefit in the future. I'm particularly pleased that I made no real driving mistakes over the past few days. I think I still have lots to learn on the slow and twisty sections, but sometimes they went very well so I know I can do it. I'm just going to be working on my consistency now.
Marcus Gronholm has finished sixth at the end of the inaugural Rally Mexico, closing his gap to the World Championship leader to just four points. Harri Rovanpera has ended up 10th on his debut in the 307 WRC, scoring a manufacturers point for Peugeot.
Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen: "This has been far from an easy rally for me and we've had our share of problems. But I think everybody knows now which directions we have to work in, and the car has demonstrated that it is quick. Today was just a question of reaching the finish, and to be four points behind the championship leader with a new car at this stage of the season is not too bad. I'm looking forward to the next rally, in New Zealand, as we should have some new parts on the car that will make us even more competitive."
Harri Rovanpera / Risto Pietiläinen: "This was my first rally in the 307 WRC, and I was still getting used to it during the first day. As time went on I was able to find a rhythm and grow in confidence with the car. Unfortunately, a steering arm broke yesterday, which was not my fault, and we dropped a lot of time. But at least we were able to score a point and build up more experience of the car which will be very useful for the future."
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sport crew Gilles and Hervé Panizzi scored two points on the third day of Latin American sunshine and 28 degree temperatures, to boost Mitsubishi's points total on the inaugural Corona Rally México, the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04s first true gravel event since its return to the world series.
Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi: "We had a few problems but I prefer to keep a positive feeling; I'm just pleased to be at the finish after 400km", commented Gilles. "We now know what our priorities are for making improvements on the upcoming test. I'm very happy as Mitsubishi are a team who work well together and I enjoy working with them. I think we can set faster times in New Zealand but we will know for sure after the test in Europe".
Gigi Galli / Guido D'Amore: "It was nice rallying here in Mexico for the first time. The stages were a combination of fast and flowing and aggressive roads through some beautiful landscape and I'm looking forward to returning here".
Mitsubishi Motors driver "Dani" Solà was a clear winner of the Production World Championship class on the second round of the 2004 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, the Corona Rally México. Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the Spaniard led from the second stage to the finish. Second overall in the Group N category was Peruvian Ramón Ferreyros in a Subaru, two minutes behind the winner, followed by Toshihiro Arai also in a Subaru in third, the Japanese now lying second in the FIA Production Car World Championship to Solà.
Next Event - New Zealand
Round four of the 2004 FIA World Rally Championship starts in just over three weeks time when teams travel across the globe for the Rally New Zealand, the second gravel rally of the year. Comprising a total of 395.50 competitive kilometres and 23 stages based around the city of Auckland, the event starts on Thursday 15 April and concludes on Sunday 18 April. Rally Headquarters will be based at the Sky City complex in Auckland.