Mixed fortunes for Qatar MWRT on first leg of Rally Mexico

Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team, formerly known as Ford’s factory team, looks very strong in Mexico, despite quite a few problems and issues. Mads Ostberg is leading the bunch and currently looks like the most serious threat to all conquering Sebastien Ogier and Volkswagen. Ostberg is still not enjoying full confidence on tricky Mexican stages, but his pace is very good. The fact that he is keeping Mikko Hirvonen well and truly under control in the battle for second place says enough.

At the same time, Ostberg’s team-mates have endured a tough day, especially Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov. Electrical problems on Fiesta RS WRC meant Novikov lost chunks of time early in the day, which is really huge shame – I’m sure he would have been right there in the top five. And in top five is where Thierry Neuville still is, despite losing time on several stages, and dropping well behind the battling Ostberg and Hirvonen.

Mads Østberg (2nd) said:
“We are happy to be second of course, but it’s been an up-and-down day for sure! We have seen what we can do when everything is working, and it’s very disappointing when we lose so much time in just a couple of stages. It’s still a big fight and, if we can find a good rhythm tomorrow, we will see what we can do. We are certainly not giving up!”

Thierry Neuville (4th) said:
“Today has been a good day. When we felt good the times were good, but we are also being clever and not pushing too hard when the confidence is not 100 per cent. Maybe we slowed down a bit too much on a couple of the stages this afternoon, but we are still here and that is the most important thing. We definitely have more speed to come, but we don’t want to take any big risks on this event. Last year we proved that we have the speed; this year it’s all about proving that we have the speed and the consistency.”

Nasser Al-Attiyah (6th) said:
“Today has been a good for us. The car and tyres are working perfectly and I have been able to continually improve my times from last year. We are pushing, but these stages are very difficult so you need to be careful and make sure that you understand the limits. Evgeny [Novikov] was very unlucky this morning, but Mads [Østberg] and Thierry [Neuville] have been very impressive and I hope that all four of us can continue to improve tomorrow.”

Evgeny Novikov (13th) said:
“This morning was a big disappointment for me, I came to this event full of confidence and ready to get a good result for the team, and also for Ilka [Minor, co-driver] on what is a very special event for her. But these things happen and there is not a lot we can do about it now. The most important thing for us is to keep motivated and make sure that we make it to the end of the rally.”