WRC Rally Mexico: Jari-Matti Latvala claims dominant victory

Jari-Matti Latvala cruised to a first Rally Mexico victory ahead of Volkswagen World Rally Championship team-mate Sebastien Ogier and Hyundai's Dani Sordo

WRC Rally Mexico: Jari-Matti Latvala claims dominant victory

NEWS UPDATE: Penalty costs Sordo podium

Assuming the lead with a blistering run on Friday's first stage - El Chocolate - Latvala crushed his rivals on the remainder of that day's stages and never relinquished his spot at the top of the classification.

By Sunday morning, Latvala had extended his advantage to over 90 seconds going into the final two stages.

Ogier was able to take 25.3s out of his team-mate on the 50-mile-long penultimate stage but the rally by then was long gone, with Latvala eventually winning by 1m05s and picking up a further two points for second on the Agua Zarca powerstage.

Second place did mean Ogier dropped points for the first time in 2016, but with the retirement of team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen - who was second in the standings - as well as the fastest time on Sunday's powerstage, the world champion nevertheless extended his points lead.

Mikkelsen had been charging in the third Polo R WRC but met his fate on Saturday afternoon on the second run of the Otates stage when a crash put paid to his hopes of completing a Volkswagen podium clean-sweep.

The Norwegian might have scored a point had he rejoined on Sunday under Rally2 rules, but after inspecting the car Volkswagen determined the damage was significant enough to prevent his return.

Dani Sordo completed the podium, the Spaniard driving through braking and overheating issues to finish in third.

Mikkelsen had been set to overtake the Hyundai driver until his crash, instead handing Sordo a comfortable run to a first podium of the season - and his team's third in as many rallies.

M-Sport's Mads Ostberg was fourth in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC and moves into second in the standings, while the second Hyundai of Hayden Paddon came home fifth despite clattering a wall on the first Otates run.

Ott Tanak collected his third points finish of the season in his DMACK Fiesta, with Martin Prokop seventh on his first WRC outing of 2016 and Lorenzo Bertelli eighth.

Thierry Neuville was another high profile casualty after two crashes in his Hyundai i20 WRC.

The Belgian was first forced to stop on Friday's opening stage - having been second on the leaderboard - but suffered a bigger crash after rejoining on Saturday morning.

He and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul required a trip to hospital, although both were later discharged.

With remaining WRC runners Benito Guerra and Eric Camilli also returning under Rally2, that paved the way for Teemu Suninen to finish ninth in his WRC2 Skoda Fabia R5, having seen his main rivals Armin Kremer and Nicolas Fuchs fall out of contention.

Suninen finished 14m35.5s clear of 10th-placed Valery Gorban, who became the first man to score points in a Mini World Rally Car since Nathan Quinn's eighth place on Rally Australia in 2013.

NEWS UPDATE: Penalty costs Sordo podium

LEADING FINISHERS AFTER SS21:

-

LEADING POWERSTAGE TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 9m57.1s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 5.4s
3 Hayden Paddon, J.Kennard Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 10.4s
4 Mads Ostberg, O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 13.9s
5 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 17.4s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Sebastien Ogier 77
2 Mads Ostberg 42
3 Andreas Mikkelsen 33
4 Dani Sordo 30
5 Hayden Paddon 29
6 Jari-Matti Latvala 27
7 Ott Tanak 24
8 Thierry Neuville 15
9 Stephane Lefebvre 10
10 Henning Solberg 6
10 Martin Prokop 6
12 Elfyn Evans 6
13 Craig Breen 4
13 Lorenzo Bertelli 4
15 Teemu Suninen 3
16 Esapekka Lappi 2
17 Armin Kremer 1
18 Valeriy Gorban 1
19 Kris Meeke 1


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