Celebrated start to the Rally Mexico in the tunnels of Guanajuato
Ogier first, Mikkelsen tied in second, Latvala fourth
Two special stages over 5.61 kilometres whet the appetite
Fiery start in Guanajuato, passionate fans and a promising result – Volkswagen made the perfect start to the Rally Mexico. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were once again shining lights for Volkswagen over the intense opening 5.61 kilometres, which took place in total darkness. The two spectator stages – the world famous “Street Stage Guanajuato” and the special stage at the motor-racing circuit on the outskirts of León – saw Ogier/Ingrassia clinch the top spot, ahead of Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai) and their Volkswagen team-mates Mikkelsen/Fløene, who ended the day with the same time, just 1.2 seconds off the lead in second and third. Fourth place went to Latvala/Anttila in the third Polo R WRC – just six tenths of a second further back.
Year after year, the emotional start in the silver-mining city of Guanajuato, in particular, thrills tens of thousands of fans, as well as the drivers and co-drivers of the World Rally Cars. The route of the opening stage is just over a kilometre long and takes the competitors through tunnels and round roundabouts on “Frog Hill” – the English translation of Guanajuato. The chants and cheers of the fans provided the soundtrack, which is unique in the world of rallying.
Quotes after day one of the Rally Mexico
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“My goal when I came to Mexico was to do my very best, and that is exactly what I tried to do today. We made a successful start to the rally. The key tomorrow is to push as hard and drive as fast as possible. Then let’s see how things are looking tomorrow evening. We are thinking one day at a time.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The opening in Guanajuato was amazing – the passionate fans at the start and along the route once again created an incredible atmosphere. On the whole, the first two stages were okay. Maybe I was a little too cautious at times. However, we still have three long days of rallying ahead of us, and the leaders are closely bunched at the moment.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I think the fans got their money’s worth today. The special stage in Guanajuato is one of a kind and one of the season’s emotional highlights. My team-mate Jari-Matti and I had a good battle on the Super Special stage. I only managed to pull just ahead of him at the very end. However, the real Rally Mexico does not really start until tomorrow, and we have a lot of really challenging stages ahead of us. I am already looking forward to it.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The fans are not the only ones who are excited about the start in Guanajuato each year. The drivers, co-drivers and teams are also bowled over by it every time. The fantastic atmosphere and unbridled support set the standards. And when the result is also a good one, you cannot ask for more. Strangely, the top five at the end of the day mirrors the overall standings in the World Championship. Even Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen finished with the same time, and they are also tied on points in the championship. We want to carry the emotional momentum of today into the coming days.”
And then there was ...
... a speedy appearance at the press conference. Andreas Mikkelsen did not arrive at the FIA’s media appointment on foot. The man currently third in the WRC table just could not resist the temptation of a Ducati Multistrada 1200 S. Ducati Mexico had actually provided the bike for Motorsport Director Jost Capito, to ensure he could get from one special stage to the next quickly. However, it was Andreas Mikkelsen who took it on its maiden trip with a short ride through León before stopping in front of the media centre to fulfil his obligations. Incidentally, Mikkelsen is the proud owner of a Ducati Monster back home in Monaco.