TOKYO, Mar 20, 2023 - (JCN Newswire) - TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has scored a superb victory and double podium finish on the return of Rally Mexico, as Sebastien Ogier became the undisputed master of the demanding gravel event with a record seventh win.
Vincent Landais, Sebastien Ogier
In what was the FIA World Rally Championship's first trip to the high-altitude stages in the mountains above Leon since 2020, and therefore the first of the Rally1 era, the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID performed strongly to lock out three of the top four positions in a thrilling conclusion, with Elfyn Evans finishing third and Kalle Rovanpera fourth.
Having led from the first stage of Saturday morning, Ogier and co-driver Vincent Landais came into Sunday's finale with a lead of 35.8 seconds, a cushion that allowed them to take a safe approach to the morning's stages - which included the longest of the weekend, the 35.63 kilometre-long Otates. Ogier then delivered an incredible performance to seal the victory with the fastest time on the rally-ending Power Stage, securing a maximum score that puts him top of the championship standings by three points - even though he has only contested two of the three events held so far.
This latest record broken by Ogier (who had claimed TGR-WRT's first Mexico win three years ago) comes after he also set a new benchmark for the number of wins on Rallye Monte-Carlo with his ninth triumph in January. It also continues the great start to his collaboration with Landais, who was competing in Mexico for the first time.
The team came agonisingly close to securing a one-two finish, with Evans missing out on second place by just 0.4 seconds on the final stage to Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). Evans and co-driver Scott Martin began the day well, beating their rivals to the fastest time in Otates to strengthen their grip on second. After sustaining suspension damage they carried out roadside repairs that allowed them to keep up the fight, but they would ultimately have to settle for the third step of the podium after a battling drive.
Rovanpera and Halttunen took away more strong points for their championship defence in fourth place, having ended Friday already a minute off the lead after having to effectively clean a path through the loose gravel stages. Rovanpera pushed hard in the Power Stage in search of bonus points, and set the fourth-fastest time after a wide moment damaged the rear wing of his car. He is now third in the standings, four points behind Ogier.
Takamoto Katsuta reached the finish of his first ever Rally Mexico, driving a fourth GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID with the support of the TGR WRC Challenge Program. He and co-driver Aaron Johnston returned to action under restart rules on Saturday after a spin had taken them off the road on Friday.
For the latest results please visit www.wrc.com.
The Croatia Rally on April 20-23 is the first pure asphalt round of the season, held on challenging roads around the capital city, Zagreb. As well as a mix of fast and more technical sections, the stages feature constant surface and grip changes.
For more information, visit https://toyotagazooracing.com/wrc/release/2023/rd03-day4/.
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