Thierry and Martijn power to the podium
The first gravel rally of the 2023 WRC season resulted in a hard-fought podium finish for our team with the i20 N Rally1 Hybrid showing competitive form in Rally Mexico.
The 22 stages provided plenty of drama throughout the event with tight battles up and down the field. Thierry and Martijn emerged successful from a rally-long battle with Elfyn Evans, which saw our Belgians steal second place on the Power Stage.
The result was the ideal reward for our crew and team after a determined display and represented their third consecutive podium finish of the season.
Flat-out and fearless
“I have been flat out all weekend, and I am delighted to take our third podium in three rallies,” said Thierry. “I stayed calm and saw an opportunity in the Power Stage. I pushed as hard as I could, without taking unnecessary risks. Second place is a great reward for the whole team.”
Dani and Cándido returned for Mexico and immediately showed their pace on Friday morning’s opening loop. Unfortunately, a puncture in the afternoon dropped them to sixth place, from which they battled back to a valuable points-scoring fifth.
“I have mixed feelings,” said Dani. “On the one hand, I am pleased that we could score some good points for the championship, but there is also a little bit of frustration. The puncture we had on Friday prevented us from being more involved in the fight. We did well to bring the car home in the points.”
Up front and honest
There was heartbreak for Esapekka and Janne on Saturday morning when our Finnish pair crashed out from the rally lead. They had taken five stage wins on Friday to emerge as genuine victory contenders. Their performance was one of the talking points of the weekend and offers great encouragement for the rest of the season.
“I am disappointed, of course,” admitted Esapekka. “We need to take away the positives from Friday, along with our pace from Sweden. We have the speed; we just haven’t been able yet to translate into the results we know we can deliver.”
Thierry’s podium and three Power Stage points elevates him into second place in the drivers’ championship after three rounds, with just four points between the top-three. Meanwhile, we move to 100 points in the manufacturers’ classification after a strong Mexican rally in which we claimed 12 stage wins between all three crews.
Our Team Principal, Cyril, summarised: “Taking second position is a great feeling and fantastic reward for the whole team, who have all done an amazing job in preparing a competitive and reliable car for the challenge of Rally México. All in all, I feel we have a car, driver line-up and a team that is capable of being competitive in all situations. I am interested to see how we fare in Croatia – that will be the next litmus test back on tarmac.”
Croatia Rally takes place from April 20-23 and will be based at the Zagreb Service Park.