CITROËN RACING TEAM
How would you assess this first rally of the season on gravel?
Well, Kris’ third place is obviously positive in terms of points as it means that he moves up the standings in the drivers’ world championship. It is also our second consecutive podium this year, which suggests that we are certainly moving in the right direction, and it also means that we have closed to within just one point of second place in the manufacturers’ world championship standings. Having held the overall lead for a while on day two, and even had both C3 WRCs briefly in the top three, we might well have hoped for an even better result, but that’s racing for you!
The other source of satisfaction must be the majestic performance of Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena…
Yes, that’s the least you can say! We know all about their talent, but they have literally blown us away here, even managing to set fastest times on stages that they have not contested before and taking the lead right in the middle of the battle. On that basis alone, they definitely deserved a podium place. It may seem slightly perverse for nine-time world rally champions, but they paid a heavy price for their lack of knowledge of the tyres now used in the WRC when they had their puncture. Let’s hope that it’s only a matter of time and they get their podium place at the Tour de Corse! In light of the performance they produced this weekend, I can’t really see how they won’t be just as able to get among the frontrunners.
What is your view of the performance of the team?
I would like to take this opportunity to warmly congratulate each and every one of them because they have all produced high quality work! With eight stage wins at a rally renowned for being one of the most demanding for the cars – but also for the human body – due to the altitude and the heat, we finished the event as best performer among the manufacturers, which shows how extremely competitive we are. And what’s more, we did it without the slightest technical problem. That’s not a question of luck, it comes down to relentless hard work and dedication. It is also yet further evidence of the constant progress made by our C3 WRCs.
Fourth overall at that point, Sébastien Loeb claimed his first stage win of the weekend on the second run on El Chocolate (31.44km) during Friday’s leg, whereas he was 14.6s off the pace on the first pass. Co-driver of the French ace since 1998, Daniel Elena knows him better than anyone. He gave us his analysis of this stunning performance, incredibly achieved on a stage they had not contested before this weekend…
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Today has been a positive way to end a difficult weekend. To win all three stages was a big bonus for us and we were happy that it worked out on the Power Stage for Ott to score some important points. It was good to see that his car was performing as it should: the team did a good job to fix the problem yesterday. I was also pleased to see Jari-Matti also do some good times today and that he was enjoying the driving. It was obviously disappointing to have the technical issues earlier in the weekend but to score good points today has made everyone happy and we are looking forward to the next event.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“I had a fantastic feeling this morning and the car felt very good. We had a really big push and won the first stage. Then the second stage was also really good, even though we had to save the tyres a bit. In the Power Stage I gave it everything and I’m really happy to finish second fastest with my road position. It has been a difficult weekend but to retire from one day and still come back and score eight points is good. Overall I know that the car performance is there, and now I am starting to find the performance in myself.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“Today we were putting everything on the Power Stage. We had nothing to lose and just wanted to get these five points. The car was performing really well and I felt really comfortable in the car so I could give an extra push. Of course I’m not happy with the overall result as we were in contention for the win, but we still have a long season ahead of us and the performance side has been good. It was my first time on gravel in the car, we learned a lot and we can see many places where we can improve.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“Today we were concentrating on the Power Stage, so in the first two stages we just wanted to get through them, check the pace-notes and save the tyres. It has been a tough weekend for us. The highlight has actually been the spectator stages. In our pre-event test we did some work on a go-kart track and we managed to find some new things which seem to have worked, because last evening I almost did the fastest time on the street stage. Previously we had been losing a lot of time in those. We also gained a lot of experience and data, which we can use to improve next year.”
A stunning performance from our Spaniards Dani and Carlos resulted in a well-deserved podium result in Mexico, as we claimed our best result in the gruelling gravel rally.
On another dramatic and incident-filled day, our #6 crew grabbed second position to register our third top-three result of the season. With Andreas/Anders taking fourth place and Thierry/Nicolas in sixth, we extended our lead in the WRC manufacturers’ standings to 12 points. A job well done!
“We have witnessed once again just how tough Rally México can be, with lots of drama right up to the Power Stage,” said our Team Principal Michel. “We are delighted to finish the weekend with our best Mexico result and to increase our championship lead.”
Starting the day in third place, Dani was keen to push for second. In the end, the position came to him after Kris Meeke lost time on the opening stage of Sunday morning. The result was his best since finishing second in Spain 2016.
“I am very happy,” said a smiling Dani at the end of the Power Stage. “A podium result is so important and we made the most of our road position in these really tricky gravel stages. Thanks to Carlos and to the whole team for this result.”
Andreas and Anders picked up two extra points in the final stage to take his season-to-date total to 35, and to move up to third in the standings.
“It has not been an easy rally for us,” he reflected. “There were definitely areas where we could have attacked more, but finishing fourth gives us important points.”
Power and pressure
Thierry and Nicolas also gave a push in the Power Stage to keep the pressure on rally winner Sébastien Ogier in the championship hunt.
“We approached the final morning of the rally determined to score as many points as possible. I’m happy to take three extra points away from what has been a very tough weekend.”
Michel concluded: “Like all teams, we had some issues to deal with in Mexico, but finishing with all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars inside the top-six in such a demanding event is very encouraging.”
The WRC moves back to tarmac in April as Corsica hosts the fourth round of the season from 5-8 April.