Phase of the rally
The Wolf Power Stage at Mexico features a reputation for producing enthusiasm, as anybody who watched Kris Meeke unexpectedly negotiating a vehicle parking in 20 17 will understand.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver was responsible for increasing the enthusiasm rates again this year — but in such a case it was down to the incredibly close battle using Sébastien Ogier.
The rally winner won the last speed test by just 0.025sec out of Meeke, a difference four times quicker than the blink of the eye!
Part of this rally’s mad Saturday afternoon, the launching run through Otates (SS11) was Kris Meeke’s victory mission ended and Ogier seized the guide he wouldn’t uttered.
But that ambition proved short-lived, when he suffered a level back right tyre.
He surrendered a lot more than 90sec after electing to not discontinue, and a further 1min 45sec limping through the next El Brinco test with damaged suspension. At that time, Ogier was almost 20 sec ahead of the pursuing pack.
Rescue of the rally
Step forward Jari-Matti Latvala, that completed the event thanks just to his mechanical abilities and ingenuity using a water jar.
In scenes reminiscent of Thierry Neuville’s lager-fuelled rescue in 2014, Latvala found himself close to the conclusion looking at a car with a busted radiator parked over a puddle of coolant. What followed has been very WRC.
He used a pack of mouldable putty to plug the hole at the machine and then set about filling the machine out of his normal water bottle.
When that wasn’t enough, the Finn made an exhausting 500-metre dash right down a steep hillside to refill his jar out of a river, topped up the machine and completed the Power Phase to secure eighth place. Bravo.
Surprise of this rally
A never-give-up attitude is something we all ’t come to count on out of WRC drivers, and this is why Thierry Neuville’s opinions at the close of Friday’s SS7 increased a few eyebrows.
Completing 2.8sec slower than the person he was pursuing, Ott Tänak, Neuville left his head. “I barely contribute up, but that I announce today that there is no chance for us to fight. No luck, no luck,” he explained.
Fighting a cold chilly, Neuville was plainly with an uncomfortable run, but with the following 14 stages still to run, it was an incredibly gloomy forecast from the Belgian.