Behind the VWS
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