Mexico : Citroen Sport - Finish
Having built up a cushion of more than a minute over his closest chaser by the end of Day 2, there was no reason for Seb to take any risks over the 62.06km of stages that made up today's programme. With certain portions covered for a third
time this weekend, the C4's BFGoodrich were put to a severe test, but Seb and Daniel controlled perfectly from in front to secure what stands out as a key success in terms of the championship. Meanwhile, Dani started the day inside the top-three but was unable to keep his footing on the provisional podium, ultimately finishing a nonetheless eloquent 4th.
Guy Fréquelin had profited from the Citroën Sport team's traditional pre-event briefing to spell out the importance of the Mexican round and also repeat his objective for the weekend. "After our recent upset in Norway, we need to score a good result here, but it won't be easy," he explained to his troops. "The Rally Mexico is the C4's first outing on gravel and it's a complex event, with high temperatures, abrasive stages and plenty of potential pitfalls. The altitude and the rarefied air also detract from engine- and brake-cooling performance, so we face a lot of unknown factors."
After profiting from the early part of the event to find his marks and put the initial stages that were still covered with a top-coating of loose gravel behind him, Sébastien took command after SS5 before consolidating his lead with a total of four fastest times on Day 2. "I was keen to see how the C4 WRC performed on the loose," said Seb at the finish.
"My recent impressions on snow were very encouraging and I wasn't disappointed here. The C4 WRC is quick and efficient and I feel very comfortable driving it. It is nicely balanced, with less oversteer and good potential whatever the profile of the stages. There is good reason to be optimistic for the future but, as we saw here, it won't be easy. For Daniel and me, this is our 30th WRC win together. That's obviously nice but I'm especially pleased with our run here this weekend and what it promises for the upcoming rallies."
"Following the way the winter events unfolded, I will be under a lot of pressure in Mexico," admitted Dani Sordo prior to the start. "The best way to kick off the weekend will be to set a good time on the opening stage." The Spaniard in fact went one better by topping the shakedown timesheets, and the rest of his weekend lived up every bit to the hopes Citroën Sport had placed in him. "I still need to progress, but I feel I have improved on dirt. I am closer to the others and at times I was up there with the best of them. I would have preferred to have finished 3rd but this morning's stages saw sizeable gaps open up, notably because of hanging dust (SS17), and I preferred to settle for 4th place. I feel more and more comfortable with the C4 and I also feel reassured about my ability."
With Seb finishing on the highest step of the podium and Dani completing the distance just short of 3rd place, Guy Fréquelin was positive in his appraisal of the team's visit to Mexico. "I am pleased to have scored the C4's second win of the year. It was important to stem the recent trend. Winning the new car's maiden gravel event shows the standard of the work everyone at Citroën Sport has put in. I was hoping the car would be competitive and I was pleasantly surprised. The snowy rallies enabled us to improve the car, as our seven fastest stage times this weekend indicate. I also want to underline Dani's good run. He has reassured me about his potential and his ability to go quickly without making any mistakes."