Tänak triumphs for Toyota/Michelin in Sweden
Rally Sweden – Round 2 of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship – was won by Ott Tänak (Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin), ahead of Esapekka Lappi (Citroën/Michelin...
The 2019 Rally Mexico saw Sébastien Ogier (Citroën/Michelin) win the North American event for the fifth team to become the first driver to reach the score of 2,000 World Rally Championship points. Ott Tänak (Toyota/Michelin) and Elfyn Evans (Ford/Michelin) pocketed the silver and bronze medals, while Skoda/Michelin collected a one-two finish in WRC2.
Ogier dominated the 15
The next day, with the exception of a brief appearance of Toyota’s Kris Meeke at the top of the leaderboard, the Frenchman successfully defended his advantage and went on to take his fifth Rally Mexico victory which have been achieved in three different cars, but all on Michelin rubber. The Frenchman also collected the five Power Stage bonus points up for grabs in addition to chalking up Citroën’s eighth win on the event from 15 starts.
After the recent wintry Rally Sweden, crews faced a suffocating cocktail of dust and heat in Mexico, with ground temperatures peaking at almost 50°C in the mountains near Leon. The factory drivers essentially chose the medium-compound Michelin LTX Force M6 for the morning’s loops before switching to the harder LTX Force H4 for the afternoon runs.
There were several cases of damaged wheel rims due to the many stones that carpeted the stages, but Michelin’s tyres had the situation covered and no drivers were forced to stop and change a wheel mid-stage.
The gruelling conditions took their toll on many of the WRC runners in other ways, however, with Teemu Suninen (Ford/Michelin), Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai/Michelin), Dani Sordo (Hyundai/Michelin) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota/Michelin) all in trouble on Day 1, while Esapekka Lappi (Citroën/Michelin) and Kris Meeke (Toyota/Michelin) lost ground on the second leg.
Tänak overcame the handicap of running first on the road on Friday to reach third place by Saturday evening, 2.2s short of Evans. Sunday’s action saw their battle turn in the Estonian’s favour, while Hyundai/Michelin’s Thierry Neuville finished just shy of the podium.
The top five was rounded out by Meeke, ahead of WRC2 victor and local hero Benito Guerra (Skoda/Michelin). Michelin secured a one-two finish in the category thanks to Bolivian Marco Bulacia who was also driving a Skoda Fabia R5.
The next round of the WRC will bring teams back to Europe for the Tour de Corse, France, on March 28-31.
Final positions – 2019 Rally Mexico
1. Ogier/Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC/Michelin),
2. Tänak/Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin)
3. Evans/Martin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC/Michelin)
4. Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC/Michelin)
5. Meeke/Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin)
6. Guerra/Zapata (Skoda Fabia R5/Michelin)
7. Bulacia/Cretu (Skoda Fabia R5/Michelin)
8. Latvala/Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin)
9. Sordo/Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC/Michelin)
10. Trivino/Marti (Skoda Fabia R5)