Sebastien Loeb won the Rally Guanajuato Mexico for the fifth time after his Citroen Total World Rally teammate Sebastien Ogier crashed in the final stages yesterday.

Loeb started the final three competitive special stages 10.5 seconds behind his countryman. But when Ogier left the road 13 kilometres into the Guanajuatito test, damaging his Citroen DS3 WRC too badly to continue, the seven-time world champion grasped a lead he would not relinquish.

Taking competitors across dusty, high-altitude terrain from the city of Leon, Rally Guanajuato Mexico was round two of 13 in the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship.

Round 10 of the WRC series will be Rally Australia, to be staged on the Coffs Coast of New South Wales on 8-11 September.

“It was very hard to win because it was a big fight with Ogier,” said Loeb, whose win was his 63rd in 140 starts at world championship level.
“He was pushing me really hard. We are teammates and we have to fight for the championship and it is a shame it ended for him like this. But I am happy with the performance of our DS3 WRC, it has been very fast on this rally.”

Ogier was forced to retire when he hit rocks at the roadside and broke a front wheel.
He said: “I pushed very hard. When you are driving so hard, there are risks and it can happen. I did a mistake - it’s part of rally. I played the game and this time I lost.”

Mikko Hirvonen also benefited from Ogier’s exit, inheriting second place in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
The Finn maintains his lead in the world drivers’ championship following his triumph in the snow on Rally Sweden last month.

He ended the Mexican event by winning the Power Stage to secure three bonus points in his bid to become world champion for the first time.

But the Swedish win put Hirvonen at a disadvantage for the first day in Mexico, requiring him to run at the head of the field and sweep the gravel roads for his rivals.

“Friday was difficult cleaning the road, but when it was obvious we couldn’t consistently match the speed of the Citroens we just took it steady,” Hirvonen said. “Getting three extra points is also good for the championship.”

Hirvonen’s teammate Jari-Matti Latvala completed the podium in his Fiesta and secured his second stage win of the rally with the fastest time on the penultimate test.
Petter Solberg opted to carry a spare tyre in his DS3 WRC in an effort to give him the best possible chance of winning the Power Stage.

After adopting a cautious approach on the first two Sunday stages to save his tyres, Solberg hoped the reduced weight in his car would help him take victory on the Power Stage. However, he was ultimately unsuccessful when he slid wide on a corner, allowing Hirvonen to take the best time.
Mexico rookie Mads Ostberg continued his impressive start to the 2011 season, with fifth place in his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta.

Henning Solberg battled through brake and power-steering problems to a hard-earned sixth in his Fiesta.
Super 2000 World Rally Championship winner Nasser Al-Attiyah finished seventh, but later was excluded from the results when officials found a technical irregularity with his fuel tank. Class rival Martin Prokop took eighth with Juho Hanninen surviving a light rollover on the penultimate stage to claim ninth overall.

Argentinean Federico Villagra fought back from delays on Friday to bag the final WRC point on the first appearance of the season by the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team.

An electrical fault stopped American Ken Block’s Fiesta on the penultimate stage although he was eventually able to complete the run and make it to the finish.

Round three of the WRC will be Vodafone Rally de Portugal on 24-27 March.

Portugal will feature the debuts of Australians Molly Taylor and Brendan Reeves, who are among six of the world’s best young rally drivers selected to join the inaugural FIA WRC Academy.

Taylor and Reeves, both 22, won their prizes as finalists in the Pirelli Star Driver quest and are scheduled to contest six WRC rounds this year in identical Ford Fiesta cars.

FIA Drivers’ Championship standings after round 2 of 13:
1.    M. Hirvonen (Ford, Finland) 46
2.    S. Loeb (Citroen, France) 37
3.    J-M Latvala (Ford, Finland) 31
4.    M. Ostberg (Ford, Norway) 28
5.    P. Solberg (Citroen, Norway) 23
6.    S Ogier (Citroen, France) 15
7.    H. Solberg (Ford, Norway)
8.    P. Anderson (Ford, Sweden) 6
9.    M. Prokop (Ford, Czech Rep.) 6
10.    K. Raikkonen (Citroen, Finland) 4
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