Jari-Matti Latvala ended team mate Sebastien Ogier’s perfect start to the WRC season with a convincing victory at Rally Guanajuato Mexico on Sunday.
After a disastrous opening two rounds in which he failed to score, Latvala controlled the first gravel round of the season to secure his 16th career victory on hot and dusty mountain roads near León.
He headed Ogier, starting his 100th WRC round, by 1min 05.0sec after almost 400km of white knuckle driving, wrecking the world champion’s unblemished start to the campaign after maximum scores in Monte-Carlo and Sweden.
Both were driving Volkswagen Polo R cars and the win was the 12th consecutive victory for the German manufacturer, equalling its championship record set in 2013-14.
Latvala laid the groundwork with a faultless performance on Friday and Saturday’s dirt speed tests. The Finn enjoyed a low start position and benefited from roads cleaned of gravel by those ahead to leave a faster line. He won all 10 loose surface stages over those two days and measured his pace through Sunday’s final two tests, which included the 80km Guanajuato, the longest in the WRC since 1986.
Round five of the championship takes competitors to south America for Rally Argentina (21 – 24 April). The gravel event is based in Villa Carlos Paz.