Mikko Hirvonen secures podium spot
"We only really had one mission today"
After winning the event’s longest stage, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen ensured they would finish Rally Mexico as runners-up. With the points scored by Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio for fourth position, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT increased its lead at the top of the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
After two long, gruelling days of racing, the final leg of Rally Mexico was considerably shorter. The crews still had to tackle the 54.85km-long Guanajuatito stage, and the Derramadero Power Stage (21.14km) and the Super Special Stage held next to León, the base of the rally.
With a slim 7.5s lead over Thierry Neuville at the start of the final day, Mikko Hirvonen had no choice but to push hard to thwart the ambitions of his rival. The Finn did just that, with style to spare, by beating all of his rivals on Guanajuatito to record his second stage win of the weekend. And although his tyres were already very worn, he also managed to show good speed on the Power Stage.
“We only really had one mission today and that was to keep our second place, so I’m pleased we managed to do that,” commented Mikko at the finish. “I didn‘t go flat out on Guanajuatito because I wanted to keep my tyres for the Power Stage. But I was too cautious in the first section, which was really quick with a lot of dips, and I couldn’t get into the top 3. But anyway, I’m pleased to finish on the podium for the first time this season. It’s a good result which owes much to my consistency. However, it looks like we have a lot of work to do as well.”
Fourth at the end of the second day, Dani Sordo held his position until the finish. “It’s a good result because it means that Citroën has increased its lead in the overall standings,” said the Spaniard. “Although we have made progress this weekend, I was unable to challenge the other guys because I was struggling to adapt to the car. We are going to keep working, especially in the tests that are scheduled ahead of Rally de Portugal.”
“This rally was a good result for the Manufacturers’ World Championship, as we have extended our lead by four points,” confirmed Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “It wasn’t easy, however, especially for Dani who had difficulty in making the most of the car’s potential. We worked hard throughout the weekend and I think our efforts will start to bear fruit from Portugal onwards. Mikko, on the other hand, was happy with his DS3 WRC and he was able to challenge at the front. Both our cars have finished in the points. That’s in line with the target we had set ourselves and that we’ll be looking to achieve throughout the season.”
Competing in the DS3 WRC of the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT, Chris Atkinson picked up another position during the morning. The Australian was delighted to have finished sixth overall: “It was a good comeback, we were 15th at one stage, so to get sixth is fantastic! Obviously, it could have been better, but I’m happy. I’d like to thank Khalid Al Qassimi for letting me have this opportunity. Hopefully, I can have another chance, so that I can build on this experience.”
Welcomed by the local media and his home crowed like a winner, the Mexican Benito Guerra was pleased to have picked up the points for eighth place: “It’s really the outcome I was dreaming about before the start of the rally. I am happy to have battled with the other drivers throughout the weekend. This first result in WRC is here, now I would like to speak with my sponsors to see if we can take part in other events at this level. I hope to be in Portugal!”
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