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FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
RALLY MEXICO
02 MARCH 2008
DAY 3
MEXICAN MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION DRIVERS TAKE TOP FIVE PLACES ON RALLY MEXICO OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

BENITO GUERRA / SEGIO GONZALEZ
 

RODRIGO SALGADO / DIODORO SALGADO
 

JOSE DE IZAURIETA / MAURICIO PIMENTEL
 
 
Benito Guerra (Mexico) realized a lifetime ambition today, when he guided his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to Group N victory on his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Aged 24, Guerra is the nation’s hottest rally talent - and has already become the youngest ever winner of the Mexican Rally Championship. Now, though, he can add a world rally win to his list of achievements. The top five in Group N was dominated by Mexican Mitsubishi drivers, as neither another marque or another country could make any impression on the leading positions.

Guerra didn’t just win the Group N category of Rally Mexico, he utterly dominated it in his Lancer Evolution. He and co-driver Segio Gonzalez (Mexico) were fastest on each of the opening day’s major stages. The pair were only beaten on the two superspecial stages, run around Leon race track on the outskirts of the host city. By then, however, Guerra was already thinking about looking after his lead. He would end day one with a three-minute advantage over his nearest rival.

Run earlier in the season than usual, this year’s Rally Mexico didn’t feature the kind of fierce heat which has become associated with the Leon-based event. What it did have, though, was another incredible following from the passionate local fans. Once again, spectators turned out in their tens of thousands to wave the crews away from the start in the colorful city of Guanjuato on Thursday evening. Even if the temperatures were running as high as usual, the sunshine was omnipresent – and a complete contrast to the overcast and cold conditions which had greeted crews through the rallies in Monte Carlo and Sweden.

As soon as the flag dropped on the serious competition, in Mexico, nobody could touch local ace Guerra. And that’s how it would remain for the balance of the rally. He’d almost doubled his lead with another string of fastest times through day two and on today’s three stages (SS18 was cancelled due to spectator numbers) he preserved that advantage to arrive back at the Poliforum service park wreathed in smiles - and the a hero’s welcome from the fervent local supporters.

"This is incredible," said the Lancer driver. "It has been a fantastic rally. My car has been perfect all of the time. To come here and compete against these drivers is a privilege and to go away as a winner is the best feeling. We have had a very good rally, really nothing to report. Of course I had dreamed of this result, but to have it now is just amazing. I am so happy!"

A Mitsubishi was clearly the car to drive in Group N in Mexico. From the first stage, the top six Group N places were all filled with Lancer Evolutions. And by the end of the event, the order might have changed slightly over the 350 competitive kilometers, but five of those top six places were still occupied by Lancer Evolutions.

Rodrigo and Diodoro Salgado (both Mexico) were second after a fascinating tussle with fellow Mexican Mitsubishi runner Jose Ignacio de Izaurieta. De Izaurieta had held second place in Group N initially, dropping behind his rival on the third stage, but then coming back past later on in the opening day. De Izaurieta remained the runner-up until SS12, when a searing run from Salgado moved the number 65 back into second place. Salgado remained second until the end of the event, with De Izaurieta collecting the final podium place in the showroom category.

Carlos and Guillermo Izquidero (both Mexico) were fourth on the opening stage and remained in the precisely the same position throughout the three days of competition after a trouble-free run in their Lancer Evolution. Jos Cortes (Mexico) was fifth.

Sebastien Loeb (France) won the rally outright for Citroen, with Subaru’s Chris Atkinson (Australia) taking a career-best second overall. Swedish Rally winner Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) was third for Ford.

The World Rally Championship remains in the Americas for the next event, Rally Argentina (March 27-30), which is also the second round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship.


 OVERALL CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Nat Vehicle Grp
Pos
Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1
Sebastien Loeb
Daniel Elena
F
MC
CITROEN C4 WRC A
1
3:33:29.9 **:**:**.*
2
Chris Atkinson
Stephane Prevot
AUS
B
SUBARU IMPREZA WRC 2006 A
2
3:34:36.0 1:06.1
3
Jari-Matti Latvala
Miikka Anttila
FIN
FIN
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
3
3:35:09.6 1:39.7
4
Mikko Hirvonen
Jarmo Lehtinen
FIN
FIN
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
4
3:37:08.6 3:38.7
5
Henning Solberg
Cato Menkerud
N
N
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
5
3:38:27.8 4:57.9
6
Matthew Wilson
Scott Martin
GB
GB
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
6
3:39:58.8 6:28.9
7
Federico Villagra
Jorge Perez Companc
RA
RA
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
7
3:52:32.9 19:03.0
8
Ricardo Trivino
Checo Salom
MEX
E
PEUGEOT 206 WRC A
8
3:54:47.2 21:17.3
9
J
Sebastien Ogier
Julien Ingrassia
F
F
CITROEN C2 A
9
3:58:54.8 25:24.9
10
J
Jaan Molder
Frederic Miclotte
EE
B
SUZUKI SWIFT A
10
4:00:26.7 26:56.8
11
J
Michal Kosciuszko
Maciek Szczepaniak
POL
POL
SUZUKI SWIFT A
11
4:02:00.0 28:30.1
12
Petter Solberg
Philip Mills
N
GB
SUBARU IMPREZA WRC 2006 A
12
4:03:35.9 30:06.0
13
J
Aaron Burkart
Michael Koelbach
D
D
CITROEN C2 A
13
4:04:56.6 31:26.7
14
J
Patrik Sandell
Emil Axelsson
S
S
RENAULT CLIO A
14
4:06:40.5 33:10.6
15
Benito Guerra
Segio Gonzalez
MEX
MEX
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION VIII N
1
4:06:49.6 33:19.7
16
Conrad Rautenbach
David Senior
ZW
GB
CITROEN C4 WRC A
15
4:07:34.0 34:04.1
17
Daniel Sordo
Marc Marti
E
E
CITROEN C4 WRC A
16
4:07:45.0 34:15.1
18
Rodrigo Salgado
Diodoro Salgado
MEX
MEX
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION IX N
2
4:12:24.6 38:54.7
19
Jose De Izaurieta
Mauricio Pimentel
MEX
MEX
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION IX N
3
4:13:52.9 40:23.0
20
J
Shaun Gallagher
Clive Jenkins
IRL
GB
CITROEN C2 A
17
4:14:16.0 40:46.1
../
22
Jose Cortes
Adolfo Olguin
MEX
MEX
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION IX N
5
4:37:49.0 1:04:19.1


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