Following in the slipstream of Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala, who took the spoils in Monte Carlo and Sweden respectively, Kris Meeke clinched the top prize in Mexico on Sunday at the wheel of his Citroën C3 WRC/Michelin. Ogier (Ford/Michelin) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Michelin) joined the Briton on the podium.
After Ogier’s Rallye Monte-Carlo triumph in the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC/Michelin, Jari-Matti Latvala notched up the Michelin-equipped Toyota Yaris WRC’s maiden WRC success in Sweden. Rally Mexico saw Britons Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle claim the season’s first gravel fixture in the new Citroën C3 WRC/Michelin to earn the French firm’s 97th world class victory. The season’s first three rounds have now been won by three different drivers representing three different makes.
Rally Mexico kicked off on Thursday evening with a spectacular super-special around Mexico City’s Plaza de Zocalo where the opening scenes of the last James Bond movie were shot. Unfortunately, the convoy of trucks commissioned to haul the rally cars back to the rally’s base in Leon was delayed by traffic congestion and the organisers were compelled to cancel Friday morning’s two stages.
Friday afternoon saw Citroën’s Kris Meeke take advantage of his late running order to post the best time on the weekend’s longest test (El Chocolate, SS4/54.9km) and pull out an early lead. After that, the Briton produced a perfectly-paced run to clinch the fourth WRC win of his career, despite a scary moment on the Power Stage.
Handicapped by having to run second on the road on Friday and Saturday, the event’s three-time victor Sébastien Ogier (Ford/Michelin, +138s) bagged second place on Sunday afternoon, ahead of the Power Stage winner Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Michelin). Ott Tanak (Ford/Michelin) and Hayden Paddon (Hyundai/Michelin) were third and fourth. The three Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC drivers suffered from a fuel filter problem on Friday evening and Dani Sordo was notably delayed.
Unusually, Rally Mexico was marked by stormy weather and relatively cold temperatures. As a result, Michelin’s partners tended to favour the new, soft-compound LTX Force S5 which is more consistent and resistant to wear than its predecessor and consequently bettered suited to the powerful, latest-generation World Rally Cars. It was the preferred choice for the morning loops and was used in association with the harder LTX Force H4 on the afternoon stages.
The WRC2 class produced a thrilling scrap between Pontus Tidemand (Skoda/Michelin) and Eric Camilli (Ford/Michelin) who started the final leg split by just two seconds. The win ended up in the hands of the young Swede who celebrated Skoda Motorsport’s third victory from three rounds.