Whether he likes it or not, Sebastien Ogier IS shaping to become another Sebastien Loeb, not by name, character or sheer amount of skill, but purely due to the dominant performance he displays on rally stages. Listening to Ogier last year, as he was frustratinlgy not able to challenge WRC cars in S2000 Škoda Fabia, I was wondering whether he will be able to keep it under control this year, but three times already I was reassured that 2013 edition of Sebastien Ogier is well and truly in control of everything he does. He seems so comfortable in Volkswagen and it looks like he’s enjoying Polo R WRC very much.
Given all that, it’s no surprise he was able to score another superb victory for his team, second consecutive triumph after winning Rally Sweden last month. His job in Mexico certainly wasn’t easy, and main challenge came from Norwegian ace Mads Ostberg. Sadly, Ostberg was forced to retire yesterday, giving away podium finish to Thierry Neuville, who managed to keep third after mistake stopped him from challenging Mikko Hirvonen for second on today’s marathon Guanjuatito stage.
Ogier and Volkswagen’s pace was easy to expect, but hard to predict, seeing this was their first proper outing on gravel. If pace of both cars and drivers is anything to go by, Polo is well and truly a well rounded WRC machine, fast and competitive on all surfaces. Furthermore, it’s not only fast, but also very reliable, at least so far. Again, Volkswagen learned from the best, and in the WRC the best in last decade was one and only, Citroën.
To wrap perfect Mexican adventure up, Ogier also won Power stage for those sweet extra championship points. Two points on power stage went to Mads Ostberg with Jari-Matti Latvala getting one remaining point.
Mikko Hirvonen ended Rally Mexico in second place, far behind Ogier and far from pace he was supposed to show on gravel. Both him and especially Dani Sordo have some homework to do. And a massive homework it will be – they utterly failed to match Ogier’s and Volkswagen’s pace. Citroën has a winning and reliable car, and they have massive experience, but neither of the two drivers is able to challenge killer German-French combination of Volkswagen and Seb Ogier. At least not for now.
At the same time, Citroën is leading manufacturer championship! How silly is that. Well, it is and it isn’t. Jari-Matti Latvala is fast when he’s having a good day, and that usually means Rally 2, but the constant issues he is having prevent him from scoring vital points for the team. I am sure he is well aware of that.
Meanwhile, Qatar M-Sport WRT drivers did a very good job in Mexico. Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville especially. The outcome of their season could be very dependent on Ford’s ability to work on solving the reliability issues, but these two will surely be a force this year. Finally, I must not forget Evgeny Novikov, very solid performance in Mexico – young Russian is, I have no doubts about that, going to evolve into very serious competitor, if he keeps current approach to the job.