Following a rather disappointing sixth place finish at the first round in Sweden, reigning World Champions Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena won Rally Mexico this weekend.
The pair, who are unbeaten in Mexico since 2006, scored their fifth consecutive victory on the event and, in doing so, scored a maiden win for the new Citroën DS3 WRC car. Loeb and Elena are now in second place in the Drivers’ World Championship behind Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, in the sister DS3 WRC, went off in the first stage of the final day and had to retire with a broken left-hand front suspension upright.
Only 10.5 sec had separated Ogier and Loeb when they left the Poliforum de León service park that morning, “I had to push to hold onto first place, as my position of being first on the road forced me to sweep the roads yet again,” explained the Citroën Total World Rally Team driver. “In a corner, the car understeered and I went a bit wide. I couldn’t avoid a stone on the verge and the left-hand front upright broke. I gambled and lost, but above all I’m feeling gutted for the whole team. We’d done a great job since the start of the weekend and I didn’t manage to make it pay off by scoring precious points for Citroën,” said Ogier.
When Loeb saw his teammate stopped on the stage he slowed a little until the finish: “Seeing Sébastien and Julien on the side of the road didn’t give me much pleasure. We could have fought until the very end and it’s a pity it finished like that. We went back into the lead with more than 1m 30sec in hand over Mikko, so we just nursed it home.”
After losing a few seconds in Comanjilla, Loeb arrived at the start of the Power Stage with the firm intention of adding a few more points to his tally. By snatching the second-quickest time from Petter Solberg in another Citroën, the seven-time world champion bagged two additional points, rounding off a very exciting weekend: “We’ve just had a tricky rally. I had a great scrap with Sébastien Ogier, a few teething troubles with the car, and my victory only came at the end of the race. It’s a good result where points are concerned, as we’re in second place in the world championship. The season’s really begun here for us.”
“It’s another exceptional result for Citroën,” smiled Olivier Quesnel. “It was a really great rally. We lost Sébastien Ogier along the way; it’s unfortunate but that’s how it goes. In the first event on gravel, we have showed the speed and reliability of the DS3 WRC, even if we had a few glitches. I’m feeling confident for the rest of the season since I’m convinced we’ve got the best car and the best crews. We’ve now got to use our brains to fight for the two world titles.”
Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson drove a cautious third leg and brought their DS3 WRC home in fourth place, scoring a bonus point in the Power Stage.