THIS year’s Rally Mexico kept fans gripped to their seats − and anything else they could hold on to − right to the final stage.
And Daniel Elena and Sebastian Loeb turned in yet another masterclass in rally driving to notch up their 69th career win. And, if that wasn’t enough, the Citroen Total World Rally Team clinched a one-two when Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen secured second place. This leaves the two drivers in first and second places in the drivers’ standings. Citroen saw their lead in the manufacturers’ rankings grow even bigger.
Although the third and final day of the Rally Mexico was shorter than the first two, drivers and crews didn’t think they were getting let off lightly. A fourth and final dash around the Leon Autodrome special stage was followed up by the battle moving on to the day’s main test: The 54.3km Guanajuatito stage.
Loeb and Hirvonen had comfortable leads in the overall standings, so they didn’t need to push too hard and opted to save their rubber for the Power Stage, in which Hirvonen set the fastest time, seven tenths of a second ahead of Loeb.
On Derramadero, the penultimate stage, Sébastien Loeb added yet another win. The eight-time World Champion then pushed hard on the Power Stage, setting the second fastest time to pick up the two bonus points.
“It really has been a perfect weekend,” enthused Seb on his return to the service park. “I know this 69th win means a lot to Daniel. The rally was very difficult, I had to push really hard to shake off Mikko. Once I’d built up a bit of gap, I was able to control the race a bit more, but I stayed alert nonetheless. There is always a chance of spinning or picking up a puncture, which can ruin a race. This season has started in very typical fashion: a win at Monte-Carlo, an average result in Sweden and a win in Mexico. Let’s hope the rest of the season also goes the same way as in previous years.”
Second again, like in Sweden, Mikko Hirvonen was very pleased with this result: “It’s great for the team to achieve a one-two here. Seb was stronger. He beat me after a good fight, but I had my chances. These three days of racing have helped me to make progress, and little by little I am changing my driving style to adapt to the specific features of the DS3 WRC. It’s been a really good weekend, which bodes well for an interesting season.”
“Our two crews have produced the kind of performances we were hoping they would achieve this weekend,” added Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “The rally was incredibly difficult, right to the very end. The perfect reliability of our DS3 WRCs is all the more precious in such conditions, so I’d like to thank the entire Citroën Racing team for the key part they have played in achieving this result. In addition to the two Citroën Total World Rally Team cars, I would also like to emphasise the performances of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Thierry Neuville. Nasser ran an intelligent rally, making good use of his rally-raid experience. Thierry was unlucky, he had to rejoin under Rally 2 rules, but analysis of his performances shows he has clear potential on gravel. He’ll be able to use the experience gained here in the next round at Rally Portugal.”