Volkswagen enjoyed an outstanding double success at the Rally Mexico. In doing so, winners Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and runners-up Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) battled extreme conditions at the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). En route to the seventh Volkswagen victory in a row, the two leaders in the World Championship laid the foundations for their one-two on the opening day. They were faced with the obstacle of being first and second onto the route. Despite this, they had still battled their way to first and third place by the end of the first third of the rally. That all-action display was followed by a flawless second day, which saw Ogier and Latvala move to the top of the standings and open up a substantial lead, which just kept growing.
On the final day, Ogier and Latvala comfortably controlled the pace to claim the fourth one-two for the Polo R WRC in 16 outings in the World Rally championship. Ignoring the break between seasons, this was the seventh victory in a row for Volkswagen. Come the end of the rally in Mexico, Ogier/Ingrassia were a mighty 5:28.6 minutes ahead of the best-placed non-Volkswagen driver.
The WRC regulations meant the two Volkswagen drivers were faced with a luxurious problem on the opening day of the rally. As first, second and fourth in the World Championship, they had the dubious honour of opening the route. In few other rallies is this such a major disadvantage as in Mexico. More and more of the layer of loose gravel is swept out of the way with every World Rally Car that passes. The disadvantage is calculated at about 0.1 seconds per kilometre and per competitor. However, the Volkswagen pairings of Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila produced an energetic display to negate this hindrance. Eight of eleven stage wins went to Wolfsburg on day one alone.
With victory in Mexico, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved into the lead in the overall standings of the World Rally Championship – just ahead of their Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. Ogier and Ingrassia lead both the Driver and Co-Driver classifications with 63 points, followed by Latvala and Anttila with 60 points. Between them, the two cars increased the lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship significantly. Volkswagen now has 115 points to its name – 55 more than its closest rival Citroën. Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula are fourth overall with 24 points.
The day’s rallying twice ended ahead of schedule for Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN). On Friday, the Volkswagen duo hit a stone when exiting a corner on the “El Chocolate” special stage and damaged the rear-right suspension, bringing their day to a premature end having previously been running second. On Saturday, a mistake in the pace notes resulted in Mikkelsen/Markkula rolling their car when they cut too much off a corner and were flipped over by a hole in the road. Thanks to the outstanding job done by their mechanics, the number nine Polo R WRC was back as good as new by the time it took to the road for Sunday’s special stages. They managed to get the World Rally Car back into top condition within the three-hour time limit specified in the regulations. Mikkelsen/Markkula used the Sunday to gain as much experience as possible at rally pace, setting four top-three times in the process.
Absolutely reliable and equipped with an intelligent engine control unit, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC set the technological benchmark at the Rally Mexico. The special stages took the teams from about 1,800 metres to 2,800 metres above sea level. The higher you get, the lower the air pressure, oxygen content in the air and cooling efficiency of the engine sink. At temperatures around the 30-degree mark, the objective was to minimise the loss of performance. The Volkswagen engineers took care of the software intelligence of the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg well in advance of the rally in Central America. The engine control unit is used without modification from Monte Carlo right through to the final round in Great Britain.
Like their World Rally Cars, the Volkswagen drivers and co-drivers arrived at the Rally Mexico as well prepared as physically possible. Fitness was a key to success, particularly on the seven special stages at over 30 kilometres in length, which were tackled at high altitude and in scorching heat. Here too, Volkswagen left nothing to chance: the staff at the sports clinic in Bad Nauheim were tasked with looking after the physical condition of the team. Fitness and diet plans, regular performance tests throughout the season and comprehensive on-site care are part of the everyday rally routine at Volkswagen.