First stage wins for Thierry Neuville and Nasser Al-Attiyah!

"I am really happy with sixth place"


By Franck Drui

12 March 2012 - 09:15
First stage wins for Thierry Neuville

Rally Mexico, the third round of the World Championship, proved to be a successful event for the Citroën DS3 WRCs. After a controlled, error-free race, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giovanni Bernacchini (Qatar World Rally Team) finished sixth.

Despite returning to the action under Rally 2 rules, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Citroën Junior World Rally Team) also had opportunities to show off their potential. Both Citroën drivers were also delighted to have scored their first stage wins in WRC!

Disputed on roads in the mountains around León and Guanajuato, Rally Mexico saw high temperatures which took their toll on the crews and their cars on the long stages. With two 42km stages and one 54km stage, endurance was the watchword for the season’s first gravel rally!

And endurance rallying is very much a speciality of Nasser Al-Attiyah, winner of the Dakar Rally in 2011. Just like in Sweden, the Qatari decided to begin the rally cautiously: “Getting used to a car like the DS3 WRC takes time. I’m approaching this challenge with Citroën Racing in the same way as I always have throughout my career: I’m taking it step by step. Mexico is a very long and difficult rally. First and foremost, you have to make it to the finish to secure a good result.”

The Qatar World Rally Team driver ended the first day in ninth position, after grabbing his first stage win on the Super Special Stage, held at night and in the rain. Having climbed to seventh by Saturday evening, Nasser moved up another place after the rally’s longest stage, in which he set the fourth fastest time.

“I am really happy with sixth place and pleased to have had an error-free race,” he said after having been cheered by the large crowds gathered for the podium ceremony. “The way I have progressed in the car is more pleasing than the result itself. We have worked well with the team and I feel more confident. I think we will be even better in Portugal!”

Lying fourth overall at Friday lunchtime, Thierry Neuville had made a great start to keep pace with the leaders. Unfortunately, his race was effectively over after SS6: “I tried to avoid a rock that was right in the middle of the racing line, but we clipped it with one of the rear wheels. A few kilometres later, the suspension yoke failed and we decided it was best to stop before the damage became irreparable.”

The Citroën Junior World Rally Team mechanics managed to fix the DS3 WRC and Thierry was able to rejoin the rally on Saturday. First on the road for each stage on the last two days, the Belgian racked up plenty of experience. Like Nasser, he scored his first stage win on the final run of the León Super Special Stage. “I was a bit surprised to be able to compete with top guys on day one. It’s a shame that we were a bit unlucky,” said Thierry. “On Saturday, I took it pretty easily to try and understand how best to manage having to sweep the loose gravel. I was bit more ‘on it’ today and I set some good times. Overall, I’m pleased with my weekend. I’m better equipped to do well in Portugal.”


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