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Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #1

Mexico will be the longest FIA World Rally Championship round held in Guanajuato, with the organisers including in excess of 400 competitive kilometres for the first time.

Seven stages remain untouched from last season - including the superspecials and the street stages in Guanajuato and Leon - while seven have been altered for the March 8-11 event. The event is 143.46km longer this year and 43 of those are competitive. The total competitive distance is 407.87km, with day two making up the bulk of that at 183.80km.

The biggest change to the route comes on the Guanajuatito stage on the final morning (Sunday March 11), which has mushroomed from 29.13km last year to 54.30km next month. The stage starts just north of Leon and finishes out west towards Silao.

Remaining from last year will be the hugely popular DC Shoes Street Stage in Guanajauto, which comes straight after the ceremonial start. This 1.05km stage is the only time through the season when the crews will run underground competitively - and there will be tens of thousands of rally fans cheering them all the way.

New for this year will be the Las Minas and Los Mexicanos stages which are run twice on the opening day of competition. The action will begin, however, with the first ever gravel Qualifying stage, a 5.18km test which starts at 1033 local time on Thursday March 8.

Official Site:



and the Funky Bunch
6,124 Posts
I wish I could actually watch WRC somehow here. Thanks for the links!

Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Ford World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg has afforded himself the best possible start to the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia by winning this morning's Qualifying Stage.

The Norwegian was close to a second faster than anybody else through the 5.18-kilometre test. Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen was second fastest with his team-mate Sebastien Loeb, who is chasing a sixth-straight win on Rally Guanajuato Mexico, a further second down. Jari-Matti Latvala was a disgruntled fourth in his Fiesta RS WRC.

Solberg said: “I was really trying hard not to make any mistakes this morning, but I really tried hard. That was good fun.”

Having seen a mistake away from the start from Loeb, Hirvonen began the stage in confident mood, saying: “I thought I could take him [Loeb] on this stage. I made one small mistake, but when you are driving at this altitude you can lose so much time.”

Loeb felt he had been sliding the car too much and, because of the high altitude, he was running out of power from the DS3 WRC at the exit of corners.

“I was missing the speed,” said Loeb. “I made one or two small mistakes, but nothing major. It was good, but not great.”

Latvala was mystified at his time, which was 2.371s slower than Solberg.

“I thought it was okay,” said Latvala. “I honestly don’t understand what happened in there, really I have no idea, but the time is no good at all.”

Behind the top four, M-Sport driver Evgeny Novikov turned in a solid fifth-quickest time with Adapta's Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville just a couple of tenths down on him. Neuville’s performance in the Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC was particularly merit-worthy, given that this is his gravel debut in a World Rally Car.

Monster drivers Chris Atkinson and Ken Block were 10th and 11th respectively, the American landing on a rock after a jump in the stage.

WRC Team MINI Portugal drivers Paulo Nobre and Armindo Araujo are likely to run first on the road. Araujo’s run was spoiled by turbo and throttle problems, which earlier limited him to one run in free practice.

Crews will select their starting positions for Friday’s stages from 13:00hrs local time.



Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thursday SS1

Petter Solberg has shot into the lead of Rally Guanajuato Mexico - round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia - with the fastest time through the challenging street stage in Guanajuato.

Roared on by thousands of passionate fans, the Ford ace completed the 1.05-kilometre course in a time of 53.7s, which was 0.4s faster than eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb. Mads Ostberg was third quickest for the Adapta squad with Loeb’s Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen fourth.

“It was very, very difficult I must say because it was slippery in some places,” said Solberg, the winner in Mexico in 2005. “I had a good feeling in there with no crazy attacking. This means a lot to me and the whole team.”

Jari-Matti Latvala and Ott Tanak shared the fifth fastest time with Ford driver Latvala reporting a “little mistake” in the middle of the stage.

Ken Block completed the run with damaged front-left bodywork after he nudged a kerb with his Monster World Rally Team Fiesta. “I didn’t realise how slippery it would be in the tunnel,” said the American. “There was no grip and I hit with the front. It wasn’t what I wanted but it’s not so bad.”

Block’s team-mate Chris Atkinson opted for a cautious approach due to the slippery nature of Guanajuato’s cobbled streets. However, he managed to go 5.3s faster than Block and set the seventh best time on his return to the WRC.

Thierry Neuville admitted to running wide on the first right-hand bend in his Citroen Junior World Rally Team entry but he survived to set the ninth quickest time.

Armindo Araujo was the first driver to tackle the stage in his WRC Team MINI Portugal John Cooper Works WRC, which is still being hampered by the electronic fault that slowed him during Thursday morning’s Qualifying Stage. Evgeny Novikov said he lost time with an intercom problem in his M-Sport Fiesta.

Crews are now heading back to Leon for the overnight halt. Friday’s opening stage gets underway at 08:08hrs local time.


Results SS1:


Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Ford's Petter Solberg has chosen to run 14th in the order on the opening day of Rally Mexico.

Solberg got first pick of position after setting the best time in the qualifying stage, almost a second up on Sebastien Loeb. He opted for a position as far down the order as possible, usually best on a gravel event, as the road will have been swept clean.

The full starting order for the 14 priority seeded drivers is as follows...

Rally Mexico: Day 1 running order:

1. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
2. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
3. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000
4. Ken Block Monster WRT Fiesta RS WRC
5. Chris Atkinson Monster WRT Fiesta RS WRC
6. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC M
7. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
8. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC M
9. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
10. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
11. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
12. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC M
13. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC M
14. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M



Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #6

SS2: Hirvonen shines, Solberg slows

Mikko Hirvonen has snatched first place on Rally Guanajuato Mexico with a storming drive through Friday’s first test. And the Citroen-driving Finn said he could have been faster had he not backed off on the paved section nearing the end of the stage.

“I slowed down a lot in the end because I was a little worried about tyres,” said Hirvonen, who has elected to carry one spare tyre for the morning loop of stages. “I saw on the splits I was quite well ahead so it was okay.”

While Hirvonen celebrated a strong start to Friday’s stages there was despair for overnight leader Petter Solberg who has dropped almost one minute after picking up a left-rear puncture four kilometres into the run. The Ford driver then lost more ground when he suffered a spin in his desperation to limit the time deficit. Fortunately for the Norwegian he decided to load two spare tyres in his Fiesta before leaving first service.

Jari-Matti Latva, who was 0.8s slower than Hirvonen through the stage, has moved into second overall in his factory Fiesta, 1.0s behind his countryman Hirvonen. “I felt quite comfortable but I was a bit afraid of the concrete sections,” he said.

Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb was 5.4s slower than Latvala in third position. The eight-time world champion, said: “I had a good drive but it was not a perfect stage. I don’t know why.”

Thierry Neuville impressed with the fourth fastest time for the Citroen Junior World Rally Team. “I was a little out of line in some places but nothing bad,” said the young Belgian. “I am happy with my time and I hope it will continue like this.”

Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Ostberg said he was too cautious on the paved section of the stage on his way to the fifth fastest time. Ott Tanak was sixth quickest in his M-Sport Fiesta.

click: ss2


Rough start for Block

Ken Block might be firmly in contention for a points finish on round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, but the American has reported a tough start to Rally Guanajuato Mexico.

Block was two minutes late leaving service in Leon this morning while his mechanics rushed to repair the damage sustained when he brushed a kerb during the Guanajuato street test on Thursday night.

He also reported a problem engaging neutral at the stage finish. “It’s been a rough morning already,” said the Gymkhana legend who is 11th overall heading to stage three.

Meanwhile, Block’s team-mate Chris Atkinson said it had taken him a while to get into a rhythm on his first start in the WRC for more than three years. The Australian was nevertheless a strong eighth fastest in his Fiesta RS WRC.

Elsewhere, WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Armindo Araujo, who is running first on the road, continues to be hampered by the electronic mapping problem that struck during Thursday’s free practice. Araujo reported making no mistakes in the stage and added that he hoped his car would be restored to full working order during the course of the event.



SS3: Flying Latvala takes Mexico lead

Jari-Matti Latvala has become the third different leader in as many stages on Rally Guanajuato Mexico by going fastest of all on stage three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia counter.

The Finn’s pace in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC means he demotes countryman Mikko Hirvonen to second after the Citroen driver was unable to replicate the speed he showed on stage two. Hirvonen’s team-mate Sebastien Loeb was 1.9s adrift of Latvala through the stage and remains third overall, 6.7s behind Loeb.

There was more frustration for overnight leader Petter Solberg who dropped almost 30 seconds to his rivals in his factory Fiesta. The Norwegian is now 1m23.2s behind Latvala.

Ott Tanak continued his strong start with the sixth quickest time in his M-Sport Fiesta, 1.7s faster than Chris Atkinson managed in his Monster-backed example. However, the Estonian’s efforts were overshadowed by fellow rising star Thierry Neuville, who was 11.7s quicker for the Citroen Junior World Rally Team.

Neuville’s pace was such that his time was only 9.2s slower slower than stage winner Latvala.

click: ss3


SS4: Loeb lands first stage victory

Sebastien Loeb has bagged his first stage win on this year’s Rally Guanajuato Mexico by topping the timesheets through the fourth test of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia round.

Loeb, in a factory Citroen DS3 WRC, was 2.7s quicker than leader Jari-Matti Latvala and is now 4.0s behind the Finn in the overall classification.

Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest for Citroen with Latvala’s Ford team-mate Petter Solberg fourth as he begins his recovery from his early delays.

Mads Ostberg impressed with the sixth fastest time for the Norwegian Adapta World Rally Team, just 1.5s slower than the flying Thierry Neuville.

Chris Atkinson continues to acclimatise to rigours of World Rally Championship competition after more than three years away. The ace Australian has slipped behind the young Russian driver Evgeny Novikov into eighth overall.

click: ss4


SS5: Despair for Latvala

Jari-Matti Latvala has dropped out of the lead of Rally Guanajuato Mexico after a broken front suspension arm struck his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. :(

The Finn’s misfortune means he slips more than 90 seconds behind new leader Mikko Hirvonen, who was second fastest to Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb through the final stage of Friday’s opening loop of tests. Hirvonen’s lead over Loeb is a slender 0.6s.

Petter Solberg has climbed from 10th to seventh overall with the third best time in his Ford World Rally Team Fiesta.

Mads Ostberg impressed with the third fastest time to move ahead of Thierry Neuville in the overall classification. Latvala’s woes mean Ostberg is now third with Neuville fourth.

Crews are now heading back to Leon for the midday service halt. Stage six, the repeat of the El Cubilete run, gets underway at 13:36hrs local time.

click: ss5


Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Friday Midday Wrap

Round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia has got off to a dramatic start in Mexico today with Citroen team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Loeb separated by six-tenths of a second in the overall classification.

But while the Citroen team can reflect on a strong start to Rally Guanajuato Mexico, rival squad Ford will be hoping for a significant change of fortune this afternoon following a frustrating morning when its factory drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg both hit trouble.

Solberg, the overnight leader, had high hopes of a strong result after getting the pick of the road positions by winning the Qualifying Stage on Thursday. Instead he suffered two punctures, while a broken front suspension arm, caused by striking an errant rock, cost Latvala top spot on stage five and dropped him to eighth overall, one place behind Solberg.

But there have been no such problems for Hirvonen who impressed on his first outing on gravel in his factory Citroen by winning the opening stage of the day.

“The stages are extremely difficult but it’s been okay for us with no problems,” said Hirvonen. “I’m not planning major changes because I’m very happy with the car.”

Mads Ostberg is a strong third overall in his Adapta Fiesta despite reporting a loss of time in the uphill sections. The impressive Thierry Neuville, competing in Mexico for the first time, is 5.2s behind in his Citroen. Neuville had been ahead of Ostberg but slipped back on stage five after admitting to wearing out his tyres. A rock hitting the windscreen of his car also proved a major distraction.

Ott Tanak is fifth overall after five stages and hopes that tweaks to his brakes in service will provide a better feeling this afternoon. M-Sport team-mate Evgeny Novikov is sixth with Monster World Rally Team’s Chris Atkinson in ninth after a puncture on stage five held him back.

Team-mate Ken Block broke a driveshaft going off the road and into a ditch on stage five. Anxious not to delay the pursuing Atkinson, the American decided to pull over unaware that Atkinson had also hit trouble. As a result Block is down in 18th place.

Armindo Araujo completes the top 10 for WRC Team MINI Portugal despite an electronic mapping problem. Paulo Nobre, in a second MINI John Cooper Works WRC, rolled into retirement on stage five.

Nasser Al-Attiyah is 11th for the Qatar World Rally Team with Kevin Abbring heading Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Sebastien Loeb in a fine 12th overall.

Local hero Benito Guerra heads the Production Car World Rally Championship division with title leader Michal Kosciuszko just behind in his identical Mitsubishi Lancer.



Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
SS6: Podium bid over for Neuville

Thierry Neuville’s bid for a podium finish on Rally Guanajuato Mexico is over after the Belgian ace crashed his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC midway through the test.

Neuville was battling for third place with Mads Ostberg but is reported to have taken a wheel off his car after making a rare error. “It was in a narrow place between two kerbs,” said Ostberg.

In the battle for first place Sebastien Loeb has moved ahead of Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by a margin of 2.2s. However, neither driver had an answer to the pace of Jari-Matti Latvala, who was quickest through the stage by 6.9s in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC to move into sixth overall.

“I was flat out but Jari-Matti was seven seconds faster,” said Loeb. “I’m pushing very hard. I don’t say I’m scared about Latvala but we have 300 kilometres to go so we have to push.”

Latvala, who is trying to recover the time lost when he suffered a broken suspension arm on stage five, said: “The car is perfect now but the mechanics had to do a lot of work in service to make everything okay. Of course it’s a big disappointment to get problems when you are leading the rally. But you need to keep the faith and keep fighting.”

Ott Tanak reported altering his driving style due to the onset of understeer and the need to preserve his tyres in the rising ambient and ground temperatures. M-Sport team-mate Evgeny Novikov said a gearshift problem that hampered him in the morning had been cured.

Chris Atkinson said his decision to carry two spare tyres rather than one had caused his Monster Fiesta to understeer. He was ninth fastest and is now up to eighth overall.

Nasser Al-Attiyah said he had softened the suspension settings of his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen. He set the eighth fastest time.

click: ss6


SS7: Latvala continues to fly

Jari-Matti Latvala has continued his impressive recovery on Rally Guanajuato Mexico by winning stage seven in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

The Finn, who dropped out of the lead on stage five when his car suffered a broken front-right suspension arm caused by an impact with a rock, was 4.2s faster than five-time Mexico winner and event leader Sebastien Loeb. As a result he moves up to fourth overall behind third-placed Mads Ostberg, albeit 1m21.1s adrift of Loeb.

French hero Loeb continues to head the battle for supremacy within the factory Citroen team in first position after going 1.5s faster than team-mate Mikko Hirvonen. It means he has grown his overall advantage to 3.7s.

“We have to go on the limit because Mikko keeps pushing and Jari-Matti is very fast but it’s okay,” said Loeb.

Hirvonen added: “I really tried to push but Seb pushed and took one second out of me. I guess he knows how to push in this car but I’m happy.”

Chris Atkinson said he has been “annoyed” that he’s not been able to match the pace of some of the leading drivers on his WRC return in a Monster World Rally Team Fiesta. “I don’t know why, we’ll have to keep working,” said the Australian, who was ninth quickest.

Armindo Araujo reported his MINI John Cooper Works WRC has been restored to full working order following earlier troubles. “The car is better now, we are making some adjustments and it’s working well,” said the Portuguese ace.

click: ss7


SS8: Podium in sight for Latvala

Jari-Matti Latvala has closed to within 17.8s of third placed Mads Ostberg with another impressive performance in his Ford World Rally Team Fiesta.

The Finn was 8.2s faster than his Norwegian rival as he bids to land the final podium spot on round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia following his earlier delay.

“We have to try to attack if we want to fight back to a podium,” said Latvala. “It’s been going well in the afternoon with a really good feeling. If I can keep the pressure to them that’s always good but they have a too comfortable lead at the moment.”

Ostberg, meanwhile, reported a build up of dust in his Adapta Fiesta caused by a hole in the bottom of his car. He also explained that a GPS tracking module had worked loose during the run and that had affected his concentration.

Out front Sebastien Loeb continues to lead Rally Guanajuato Mexico. The French ace was 1.2s slower than Latvala but, crucially, quicker than his Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen who he heads in the overall standings by 4.5s.

Petter Solberg was second quickest, 1.0s down on Ford team-mate Latvala.

click: ss8


SS9: Cancelled !

Stage nine of Rally Guanajuato Mexico has been cancelled amid safety concerns after a competing car was struck by a rock thrown by a member of the public.

A statement from the event organisers said: “Rally Guanajuato Mexico 2012 [regrets] that car number eight driven by Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul was struck by a rock thrown at the car on stage five, Ortega, this morning. Both driver and co-driver were fortunately not harmed and are continuing in the event.

“The organisers of the rally are quite clear that this dangerous behaviour by an irresponsible individual is completely unacceptable. To ensure the safety of the competitors the second running of that stage (stage nine) has been cancelled. We urge all spectators to support us to ensure the safe running of this event.”

Crews will now head to the Monster Street Stage Leon, which takes place within sight of the permanent service park in the city, and is due to get underway at 17:24hrs local time.

Daniel Elena, the multiple Rally Mexico-winning co-driver, said of the run: “The stage here is right next to the service park and it’s mostly straights and hairpins, a bit like some of the other superspecials we do this year. But at least there is a lot of variety as there are many different superspecial stages that we drive on this event.”

click: ss9


Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
SS10: Loeb tops Leon street test

Sebastien Loeb has taken his Citroen DS3 WRC to the fastest time through the Monster Street Stage Leon, a 1.23-kilometre all-asphalt test adjacent to the permanent service park in the rally’s host city.

The eight-time world champion was 0.2s faster than Petter Solberg and 0.8s quicker than Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen, who shared the third-fastest time.

“It was just a short stage on Tarmac but I had a good drive with no problem,” said Loeb, whose advantage over Mikko Hirvonen in the battle for outright victory on Rally Guanajuato Mexico is 5.3s with two superspecial stages remaining on day one.

Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, said: “I didn’t want to be spectacular, I tried to be quick. We had a disappointing morning so we need to fight back.”

Ken Block and Nasser Al-Attiyah both admitted to sacrificing rapid stage times in order to put on a show for the fans lining the compact course.

click: ss10


SS11 and SS12: Wins for Al-Attiyah, Atkinson

Nasser Al-Attiyah and Chris Atkinson were the surprise winners on the Super Specials at Leon’s race circuit this evening as a sudden downpour created adverse stage conditions for the some of the leading drivers running further down the order.

Al-Attiyah was fastest through the first run in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen DS3 WRC to claim his maiden stage victory in the World Rally Championship powered by Nokia. Atkinson was second with Ott Tanak third and MINI driver Armindo Araujo fourth.

Atkinson, in a Monster World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC, then reversed the top two positions on the second run with Araujo taking third and Tanak fourth.

Rally Guanajuato Mexico leader Sebastien Loeb was one of several drivers caught out by the deteriorating conditions. The factory Citroen driver was eighth on both runs but has nevertheless managed to extend his overall advantage to 11.2s after team-mate and rival Mikko Hirvonen also lost time.

Saturday’s action gets underway with the 29.90-kilometre Ibarilla at 06:54hrs local time.






Friday wrap:

Loeb hasn’t been beaten on the high-altitude Mexican stages since 2006 and his advantage of 5.3s over Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen means that he’s on course for yet more glory on the Leon-based contest.

However, the French ace admits it’s way too early to begin celebrating victory on round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, particularly following a dramatic opening day in Mexico when a number of key rivals lost ground.

“It’s still very close and Mikko is pushing a lot,” said Loeb. “Jari-Matti [Latvala] is also quick too so we cannot relax. There is still a long way to go.”

Latvala was in the lead starting stage five but slipped back when he broke his Ford Fiesta’s front left suspension arm striking a rock 12 kilometres into the 23.69-kilometre Ortega run.

“It happened at a sixth gear, blind left curve over a crest,” said Latvala, who continues to close on the impressive Mads Ostberg in the battle for third. “I saw a rock, I was in sixth gear and there was no chance to avoid it.”

Despite languishing in fourth overall and being more than 1m20s off the lead prior to stage 11, Latvala remains a huge threat if his pace on Friday afternoon is anything to go by. “We had a bad morning so I’ve had to attack in the afternoon,” he said after landing a succession of stage wins.

Latvala’s Ford team-mate Petter Solberg has also been in trouble today. The overnight leader slipped out of contention with a spate of punctures. He’s currently in fifth with M-Sport team-mates and rising stars Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov sixth and seventh respectively.

Chris Atkinson is eighth on his return to the world championship for the first time since February 2009 but the Australian said he was “annoyed” that he wasn’t challenging higher up the order following a puncture. “I’m obviously not happy but tomorrow’s another day,” said the Monster Fiesta driver.

Nasser Al-Attiyah is ninth in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen with Armindo Araujo 10th for WRC MINI Team Portugal.

Ken Block was on the cusp of the top 10 when a disastrous fifth stage hit his chances. With his tyres badly worn and grip levels in short supply, Block went off into a ditch, punctured a tyre and broke a driveshaft on his Monster Fiesta. Fearing that he might delay his pursuing team-mate Atkinson, Block pulled over and waited for a few moments to pass only to discover that Atkinson was going slow with a puncture.

Thierry Neuville was in contention for a podium only for a mistake on stage six to force his retirement when he tore a wheel off his Citroen striking a roadside kerb. Paulo Nobre, in the second WRC MINI Team Portugal entry, is also out after rolling on stage five. Both drivers are set to return under Rally 2 restart rules on Saturday.



and the Funky Bunch
6,124 Posts

...thanks for all the updates :thumbup: You da man.

Premium Member
23,369 Posts
Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)

SS13: Latvala snatches third

Jari-Matti Latvala has demoted Mads Ostberg for third place on Rally Guanajuato Mexico with his sixth stage win on round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

As a result, the factory Ford driver is now 1m20.1s behind overall leader Sebastien Loeb, who was 7.8s slower in his works Citroen.

“Loeb has always been very fast in this stage and I’ve never been so competitive on this stage against him,” said Latvala. “It was slippery on some of the corners because of the [overnight] rain but it has been good.”

A frustrated Ostberg could only manage the sixth fastest time in his Adapta Fiesta. He said: “For sure I’m not happy to lose the position. At the beginning the [low] sun was against the screen and it was very difficult because it was also dusty inside.”

Loeb reported losing time towards the end of the stage in the damper sections, while team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, who was 5.3s slower than Latvala, continues to hold second in the overall classification.

Chris Atkinson said he had struggled for visibility in the early morning low-lying sun. He was seventh quickest.

Monster team-mate Ken Block completed the run with minor rear bodywork damage on his Fiesta. “The car stepped out on a tight left corner but it was no big deal,” said the American. “It’s my favourite stage here but it was hard to do before the sun comes up. I really enjoyed it though.”

WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Paulo Nobre, running first on the road, said he was struggling to restore his confidence on his return under Rally 2 regulations following his hefty crash on Friday.

click: ss13


SS14: Loeb back in control

Sebastien Loeb has underlined his supremacy on Rally Guanajuato Mexico by setting the fastest time through the punishing 42-kilometre Otates test.

Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, the five-time Mexico winner completed the stage 5.5s faster than Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala, who claimed his sixth stage win on the previous test in his Fiesta RS WRC.

In doing so Loeb has extended his lead on round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia to 18.2s over Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

“I had to push,” said world champion Loeb. “The situation was not so good with Hirvonen coming close. I really tried hard on this one.”

Mads Ostberg credited his upturn in pace after struggling on stage 13 to a few set-up changes prior to the run. He was fourth fastest in his Adapta Fiesta. Ostberg’s fellow Norwegian Petter Solberg, who was fifth quickest, said the brakes on his Fiesta had begun to fade nearing the stage finish.

Chris Atkinson suffered a slow spin nearing the stage end after he reported a significant amount of tyre wear on his Fiesta. Sebastien Ogier, in a Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia Super 2000, also spun, albeit closer to the stage start.

Ott Tanak was another driver to suffer a spin and the Estonian lost more time when his M-Sport Fiesta refused to restart for a time after it stalled.

Paulo Nobre failed to complete the stage after crashing his MINI John Cooper Works WRC, fortunately without injury to neither he nor co-driver Edu Paula, one kilometre from the stage start. The Brazilian tore a wheel from his car during the incident but hopes to return under Rally 2 rules on Sunday.

Nobre’s exit meant Thierry Neuville, running behind the WRC Team MINI Portugal driver on the road, was forced to sweep the stage clear of the loose surface gravel. Afterwards the young Belgian Citroen driver said: “There was so much loose gravel, I was always sliding and sliding with no grip at all. Each corner I lost two seconds but it was okay, good for the experience.”

A service halt in Leon awaits before stage 15, the repeat of Ibarrilla, goes live at 11:06hrs local time.

click: ss14


Saturday: Midday Wrap

Rally Guanajuato Mexico is shaping up to be another classic battle between Citroen's two factory drivers.

Last season Sebastien Loeb and former team-mate Sebastien Ogier were embroiled in a close scrap for honours in Mexico until Ogier crashed out of the lead on the final morning.

Although Loeb extended his advantage over new team-mate Mikko Hirvonen to 18.2s with the fastest time on stage 14, Otates 1, this morning, Citroen team principal Yves Matton says his drivers won’t be told to hold position on round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

“The aim is for our cars to finish in the top two positions,” said Matton. “Our crews will continue to drive freely, because we reckon that Jari-Matti Latvala’s pace may be enough to pose a threat to at least one of our cars. For the time being, the only instruction given to the drivers, as such, is get to the finish without making any mistakes.”

Latvala, in a factory Ford, is 1m25.6s behind Loeb following his delay on Friday when contact with a rock broke a front suspension arm. He recorded his sixth fastest stage time on Saturday’s opening higher-speed test but lost a few seconds on the more twisty Otates run. But with nine stages remaining until the finish in Leon on Sunday afternoon, the Finn is still in contention for victory.

“I try but the differences are so small to catch them,” said Latvala. “But I need to keep the pressure on and they have to keep concentrating. That’s the only thing I can do.”

Mads Ostberg began day two in third overall but dropped behind Latvala to fourth on Ibarrilla 1 due to a combination of low-lying sun and a build-up of dust inside his Adapta Fiesta affecting his vision.

Petter Solberg maintains fifth overall in his works Fiesta, which suffered a loss of brakes from the halfway point of stage 14. Ott Tanak, in an M-Sport-run Fiesta, is sixth despite losing time with a spin and stall on the same test.

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SS15: More bad luck for Latvala

Jari-Matti Latvala has admitted his outside hopes of winning Rally Guanajuato Mexico are over after he broke the front-left wheel on his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

The Rally Sweden winner had been on a charge to recover the time lost with a broken front suspension arm on day one of the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia. However, he lost almost 50s to leader and stage winner Sebastien Loeb when the broken wheel led to a loss of air in his front-left tyre.

“Now we can forget the fight for the first two positions, I’ve tried but that is the conclusion,” said Latvala, who is now 2m15.2s off top spot. “We went over some bed rock on the inside of the corner. It broke the wheel, not the tyre but the air came out. We did 25 kilometres on this tyre. Now we need to concentrate to get third place.”

Latvala’s team-mate Petter Solberg has moved into third, climbing ahead of countryman Mads Ostberg and Latvala to snatch the final podium spot.

“I was very pleased with that driving,” said Solberg, who was second fastest through the stage. “I must say the brakes are working very good now and we made some changes in service, which helped a lot.”

Ott Tanak lost vital time with a front-left puncture early in the stage. As a result his advantage over M-Sport team-mate Evgeny Novikov is down to 4.2s.

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SS16: Latvala reclaims podium spot

Jari-Matti Latvala has reclaimed third position on Rally Guanajuato Mexico with a charging drive through the demanding Otates test, held in sweltering ambient and ground temperatures.

The factory Ford pilot was 15.3s faster than team-mate Petter Solberg who he now heads by 12.3s in the overall classification.

Sebastien Loeb continues to build his advantage out front on the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia. The Citroen driver was 5.4s slower than Latvala though the test but now leads team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by 28.7s with three stages of day two remaining.

“We did a good drive with no mistake,” said Loeb. “There were a lot of big stones towards the end so we took it easy to avoid the stones.”

Chris Aktinson completed the run with the 10th fastest time only to crash after the flying finish. The Australian’s Fiesta struck a bank and incurred damage to the extent he has been unable to reach the stage stop line.

Crews are now heading to Leon for a 30-minute service halt. Stage 17, Comanjilla, gets underway at 15:30hrs local time.

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
SS17: Hirvonen admits he can’t catch Loeb

Mikko Hirvonen has all but given up on catching Sebastien Loeb in the battle for victory on Rally Guanajuato Mexico after he completed the first run through the Comanjilla stage trailing his Citroen team-mate by almost 35 seconds in the overall classification.

Hirvonen, who was six seconds slower than Loeb through the stage, said: “We’re maintaining our position, there is no need to have a big push and Jari-Matti [Latvala] is so far behind. Sebastien has been a little bit faster than me and he’s so far ahead that even if I take massive risks I couldn’t catch him by driving. The most important thing is to finish the rally and keep my position.”

Meanwhile, Latvala notched up his seventh stage win of the event by going fastest of all, 3.8s quicker than the time set by his Ford team-mate Petter Solberg. Mads Ostberg was fifth fastest with Ott Tanak next up.

Thierry Neuville was 10th fastest despite running at the head of the field and having to clean the road of the loose surface gravel.

“There was a lot of loose gravel again but I enjoyed this stage and the car worked very well,” said the Citroen Junior ace. “The only disappointment is we have to clean the road because yesterday we lost everything but we can come back better for the future.”

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SS18: Loeb and Solberg share superspecial glory

Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg shared the joint fastest time through the Leon race circuit’s superspecial stage, which was doubled in length following a decision by organisers to merge the two runs.

Loeb beat Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in an exciting head-to-head battle, while Petter Solberg defeated Ott Tanak in a close fight.

“It was a good run, not so hard as the other stages,” said Loeb. “It was just a pleasure to drive.”

Jari-Matti Latvala was third fastest with Ott Tanak fourth and Mads Ostberg fifth quickest.

Ricardo Trivino won the battle of the Mexican drivers in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, unsurprisingly getting the better of Benito Guerra in his production-specification Mitsubishi Lancer.

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SS20: Late drama for Novikov

Evgeny Novikov is out of Rally Guanajuato Mexico after he ripped a wheel off his M-Sport Ford Fiesta two corners from the stage start.

The Russian had been chasing team-mate Ott Tanak for sixth position when disaster struck. Although he attempted to reach the stage finish he was forced to retire as a result of the damage to his car.

“I’m very sorry for him, it was a really good battle,” said Tanak. “I almost hit his upright on the road.”

Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier clouted an earth bank avoiding a large rock in the middle of the road nearing the stage finish, puncturing a front-left tyre in the process. Armindo Araujo and Mads Ostberg said they had narrowly avoided the obstruction.

Jari-Matti Latvala won the stage from Ford team-mate Petter Solberg. Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest with event leader Sebastien Loeb fourth fastest.

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Saturday wrap:

Sebastien Loeb will start the final day of Rally Guanajuato Mexico on course for his sixth-straight victory in Leon after he completed day two with a margin of 36.2s over his Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

Loeb was able to extend his advantage throughout Saturday’s tests, held in sweltering temperatures in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans, following a hugely impressive display. There are now four stages remaining until the finish on Sunday afternoon.

However, with one of those stages, Guanajuatito, measuring 54.30 kilometres in length, the outcome of this thrilling round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia is far from settled.

“Now we have a good and comfortable situation but there is still a long way to go and a 54-kilometre stage so still nothing is done,” said the eight-time world champion. “It’s a rally where I have had a lot of success and I hope that continues tomorrow.”

Behind second-placed Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala is in third position for the factory Ford team. The Finn began day two still with an outside chance of catching the Citroen drivers at the head of the order only for a puncture on stage 15 to drop him out of contention. Nevertheless a spate of rapid stage times ensures a podium finish remains in the Ford driver’s grasp on the final day.

“It’s really good to see our car is very competitive,” said Latvala. “Without the problems we’ve had things could be really good.”

Petter Solberg, in the second works Fiesta, overcame brake problems on Saturday morning to move ahead of fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg after his countryman gradually slipped back. He is fourth overnight with Ostberg fifth and Estonian Ott Tanak impressing in sixth position.

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)

SS21: Maiden WRC stage win for Neuville

Thierry Neuville threw caution to the wind to go fastest on the final run through the Leon Autodromo Super Special for his first stage victory in the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

With the bulk of the leading drivers admitting to conserving their tyres through the stage ahead of the mammoth 54-kilometre Guanajuatito test, Neuville was less cautious, but also admitted to taking a minor shortcut to save precious time.

Chris Atkinson, back in action under Rally 2 regulations following his exit on Saturday afternoon, was second fastest. He said: “It was good to get a bit of a warm-up, to feel the car again. We’ve been changing a few things on the set-up, which wasn’t working so well in there because I couldn’t get into the corners.”

Petter Solberg edged Mads Ostberg in the battle to be top Norwegian in third place. “We had a good run, no major problems,” said Solberg. “There was a lot of gravel on one right-hander because people are cutting the corner but we’re not doing that.”

Behind factory Ford ace Jari-Matti Latvala, Rally Guanajuato Mexico leader Sebastien Loeb equalled Ostberg’s fifth best time in his factory Citroen, comfortably beating Paulo Nobre’s MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

Ott Tanak, who was ninth fastest in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta, said: “We were not fighting, just taking it easy because we need to look after the tyres for the long one,” said the Estonian, who was beaten by Nasser Al-Attiyah in their showdown.

Evgeny Novikov defeated Ken Block in their head-to-head after the American stalled at the stage start. As a result Novikov was 3.4s faster to close the gap between the pair to 34.4s in the battle for the final world championship point in 10th. “The car just stalled on me, I’ve no idea why,” said Block.

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SS22: WRC stars hit trouble

The Rally Guanajuato Mexico leaderboard has been turned on its head with several drivers hitting trouble on the longest stage in the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia so far this season.

Jari-Matti Latvala rolled his Ford Fiesta RS WRC and then stopped to change a puncture, losing more than seven minutes in the process. The Finn, who has dropped to seventh overall, said he was distracted when Evgeny Novikov crashed his M-Sport Fiesta ahead of him on the road.

Latvala’s woe means his fellow Ford driver Petter Solberg moves into third place in the overall standings with Mads Ostberg climbing to fourth, despite taking more than two minutes than stage winner Mikko Hirvonen to complete the run after he picked up a right-rear puncture.

Sebastien Loeb was 0.7s slower than Hirvonen to maintain his comfortable advantage in the overall classification. Solberg was third fastest with Nasser Al-Attiyah impressing with the fourth quickest time in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen.

Broken front suspension forced Chris Atkinson to retire his Monster World Rally Team Fiesta. Team-mate Ken Block managed to complete the test, albeit with a significant loss of time due to a puncture.

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SS23: Latvala forced to retire

Jari-Matti Latvala has been forced to retire from Rally Guanajuato Mexico.

The factory Ford driver was third overall when he rolled on the previous stage, the 54.30-kilometre Guanajuatito test.

Although he managed to limp to the finish of the run he was prevented from starting the penultimate stage of the event due to the damage sustained to the roll cage of his Fiesta RS WRC.

Rally leader Sebastien Loeb was fastest through the stage with Latvala’s Ford team-mate Petter Solberg second quickest. Mads Ostberg was third with Ott Tanak next up. Mikko Hirvonen was fifth with Nasser Al-Attiyah completing the stage with the sixth fastest time, the Qatari going 5.3s quicker than fellow Citroen driver Thierry Neuville.

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SS24: Power Stage joy for Solberg

Petter Solberg has completed Rally Guanajuato Mexico, round three of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, by gaining three bonus points for winning the event-closing Power Stage in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Sebastien Loeb was second fastest to land two bonus points and his sixth victory in Mexico at the wheel of his Citroen DS3 WRC with Mads Ostberg third quickest to gain the final bonus point on offer in his Adapta Fiesta.

M-Sport Fiesta diver Ott Tanak was fourth quickest with factory Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen and Qatar World Rally Team’s Nasser Al-Attiyah completing the top six.

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Loeb makes it six in Mexico

Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena have extended their lead of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia with victory on Rally Guanajuato Mexico, their sixth straight success on the demanding gravel contest.

Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen made it a Citroen one-two in second place with Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson completing the podium for the factory Ford team following the demise of team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila.

Loeb and Elena have now claimed two wins from three starts this season and 69 victories in the WRC since their arrival in rallying’s top tier in 1999.



Next Round 4 - Vodafone Rally Portugal Mar 29 - Apr 1

Three night stages are among the main changes to the route of Vodafone Rally de Portugal, which maintains its hub in the Algarve region of the country.

Following the superspecial stage around the Praca do Imperia in the capital Lisbon on the afternoon of Thursday 29 March, crews will now tackle three tests - all run at night and in quick succession - during the 300-kilometre journey back to the event’s base at Faro’s Algarve stadium, a venue for the Euro 2004 football tournament.

The night stages have an average distance of 12 kilometres, which has resulted in the rally’s overall competitive route rising from 385.31 kilometres in 2011 to 434.77 kilometres for 2012.

After a slightly delayed start owing to the late finish on Thursday, competitors will head to the Tavira municipality for the first time since 2007 for three repeated stages on Friday.


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