VAULTING from fifth to first in just a day, five-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier has been praised for an extraordinary performance of speed and intelligence in winning Rally Guanajuato Mexico last weekend.
Victory by 73.6 sec. returned Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia to the top of the current standings. It was the French duo’s second win from three rounds this year, their career-fourth in Mexico and their M-Sport team’s first on the event in 14 years.
But it was the manner of Ogier’s win, rather than the prize, that won attention.
In some of the toughest conditions on the WRC calendar – gravel, heat and high altitude – Ogier fought against the disadvantage of starting second on the road on Friday to lift his Ford Fiesta WRC into contention.
Despite having to push away loose gravel, he ended the first day just 31 seconds adrift of the lead, then attacked hard from a slightly improved road position on the second day. Against rivals including WRC returnee Sébastien Loeb, Ogier set four fastest stage times to transform fifth place into first and a 35.9 second lead.
On the final day, with just 46 kms to do it in, he added a further 37.7 sec to his advantage and put the win beyond doubt.
“The way Sébastien and Julien tackled this event has just been extraordinary. It was an incredible performance right from the start and what they achieved from their road position on Friday was amazing,” team principal Malcolm Wilson said.
“Then on Saturday afternoon, we saw Sébastien at his best. In my opinion that has to be his best drive since joining the team – going from fifth to first in the space of a day was quite remarkable.”
Citing Ogier’s patience, focus, speed and determination, the team said he chose his moments perfectly and made the best of every situation.
“I’m super happy today and this win is a fantastic way for me and Julien to celebrate our tenth-year anniversary in the FIA World Rally Championship. It started in 2008 with a win in the Junior category and so many great things have happened here since then – this win, I think, being one of the best,” he said.
“This weekend we really gave it everything. Julien was perfect and the team were so strong as well.
“The victory is great of course, but it’s the performance that was really good.
“I was pretty much on the limit all weekend. When you’re early on the road you’re trying your best, but the time is still far away from those starting behind. There’s always some frustration coming with that, but you have to keep going and not give up.
“We can be very proud this weekend and there’s not a lot we could have done better. We gave it everything – right up until the final stage.”