Ogier hails ‘faultless’ Rally Mexico
By Jason Craig
Tuesday 21st March, 2023 - 2:42pm
Sebastien Ogier has described as “faultless” his record-breaking seventh victory on last weekend’s Rally Mexico – the third round of this season’s FIA World Rally Championship.
The Frenchman cemented his place as the single most successful driver in the history of the North American event by leading home the main Rally1 field alongside Vincent Landais by a 27.5s margin.
Having inherited top spot early on Saturday following the exit of Hyundai Motorsport’s Esapekka Lappi, he kicked off the concluding leg aboard his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 with a 35.8 second lead.
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And although car preservation meant he relinquished some of that on Sunday to eventual runner-up Thierry Neuville, he went for broke on the end-of-rally Power Stage to scoop maximum points.
As with January’s Rallye-Monte Carlo which Ogier also won, the 39-year-old has something of a soft spot for Rally Mexico as it was there that he clinched his first ever World Rally Championship points.
“It has been an amazing weekend and I’m very happy to take this victory,” said an emotional Ogier, who dedicated the victory to his late friend and coach Tim Lobinger following his death last month aged 50.
“We came here with a clear goal to win this rally. The car was great this weekend; it was a faultless weekend for us and a strong weekend for the team, so thank you to them for making this possible.
“When you end up taking 30 points it’s really a perfect weekend. We had great pace when we needed it, and great management too when it was required. It’s not easy when you need to manage a gap like that and I think today was the toughest loop of the weekend.
“I could afford to lose a bit of time but it was important to stay focused. I felt I had to go for it in the Power Stage because I love that stage, and it’s important to score the points, also for the team.
“Records and numbers are always nice and of course I’m proud of them, but the most important thing for me is this victory,” he added.
Toyota tested extensively in the build-up to Mexico in the hope of addressing the Yaris’ frailties on hotter, tougher rounds of the Championship – as evidenced by its struggles on Rally Italia Sardegna and Acropolis Rally Greece last year.
The one-three finish, according to Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala, is proof the effort undertaken behind the scenes is paying off.
“This is an amazing result for us,” he said. “Last year we were quite far from the pace on hot and rough gravel rallies like this one, and everybody had some doubts about how we would manage here in Mexico.
“But all the work that our development engineers did before this event has turned that around so that we had the car to win the rally and win the Power Stage. I’m so happy and proud of the team.”
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