Be­hind the VWS

Motor Sport News - - Rally Mexico - SS5 Las Mi­nas 1 (9.54 miles)

Mex­ico was cer­tainly that. And there were few fur­ther down the or­der who would reach for the same ad­jec­tive as the de­fend­ing cham­pion when it came to de­scrib­ing their event.

Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, for ex­am­ple, drove well to take his first podium on an all-gravel rally since the 2013 Acrop­o­lis Rally. Or, at least, his first podium be­fore a two-minute penalty for us­ing one tyre too many dropped him to fourth.

The Spa­niard’s mea­sured ap­proach once again paid div­i­dends, but there wasn’t much mea­sur­ing go­ing on when he was in the thick of a bat­tle with Mikkelsen. Push­ing hard for an­other Volk­swa­gen podium lock-out, and just 4.5s shy of Sordo, the Nor­we­gian went off the road six miles from the end of the se­cond run through Otates. Mikkelsen’s coun­try­man Ost­berg thus picked up fourth (which then be­came third) in M-sport’s fron­trun­ning Ford Fi­esta RS WRC.

Paddon was fifth. The Kiwi’s speed be­tween break­ing sus­pen­sion arms (the first on the same Las Mi­nas bridge that ruled Kris Meeke out in 2014) was an­other rea­son for Hyundai cheer.

The Kore­ans had come to Mex­ico with a shot at win­ning. Pre-event, there was plenty of hu­mil­ity and talk of podi­ums, but Thierry Neuville demon­strated rally-win­ning speed here last year be­fore crash­ing out of se­cond place on the af­ter­noon run at the El Choco­late stage. This time his hopes were ex­tin­guished first time down the same stretch of road, when he dam­aged the car’s steer­ing. Worse was to come when he crashed

Lat­vala 11m00.1s Lat­vala Ogier +22.4s

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