11 Mar 2019
For Toyota New Zealand
Ott Tänak retained his lead of the World Rally Championship with the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team following a great performance in the 19th stage speed test of the Guanajuato, the Mexican round of the Championship.
After running third in the first three days of the rally, Tänak snatched second place from Elfyn Evans on Sunday morning after he blasted through a shortened 21.10km Alfaro stage 4.2 seconds quicker than the Welshman’s Ford Fiesta.
The Toyota Yaris driver took a risk with his tyre choice for the final three stages of the Mexican round. In contrast to Evan’s option of medium compound Michelin rubber, the Estonian opted for a mix of hard and medium tyres.
“We gambled it a bit with the tyres on Sunday but that paid off for us. Overall it has been a very good weekend,” said Tänak.
Tänak finished 19.7 seconds clear of the Welshman and 30.2 seconds behind rally winner Sebastien Ogier. Yaris driver Tänak had a strong Saturday, picking up two stage wins to close on Evans to set up a thrilling final day.
Sunday’s finale comprised three tests over 60km with roads already traversed by the rally over the previous three days. It ended with the Wolf Power Stage at Las Minas, which offered bonus points to the fastest five drivers.
Ogier took the final stage but only by 0.025 seconds over Kris Meeke’s TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Yaris, who took four bonus points from the stage.
The points gained held Toyota’s first position on the manufacturers’ championship and maintained Tänak’s leader in the drivers’ standings.
Kris Meeke finished the Rally in fifth place. He conceded a minute in the speed test but was not overly concerned as he had a comfortable buffer of around seven minutes over Benito Guerra in sixth heading into the final bonus point stage.
Meeke’s Saturday was less fortunate. By the end of the day he was in fifth place and two minutes behind the leader, Ogier. As well as suffering a flat tyre, he hit a guardrail and was forced to tackle the final stage with his car jammed in second gear.
FINAL RESULT, RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroen WRC) 3h37m08s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30.2s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +49.9s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m27s
5 Kris Meeke/Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6m06.2s
6 Benito Guerra/Jaime Zapata (Skoda WRC) +15m35.5s
7 Marco Bulacia Wilkonson/Fabian Cretu (Skoda WRC) 18m.51.5s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala/Mikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 18m55.9s
1 Ott Tänak TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 65 pts
2 Sebastian Ogier 61 pts
3 Thierry Neuville 55 pts
4 Kris Meeke 35 pts
5 Elfyn Evans 28 pts
1 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 85 pts
2 Citroen Total WRT 78 pts
3 Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 77 pts
4 M-Sport Ford WRT 45 pts
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