Østberg and Mexico winners at Rally of Nations

A second Rally of Nations win in a row for Østberg wasn't enough to beat Mexico TV4 to fastest nation

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Mads Østberg was fastest on Rally of Nations but it wasn’t quite enough to secure the top step on the podium in León, as Alejandro Mauro and Gustavo Uriosteguei won the teams classification for Mexico TV4.

Tweaks to the performance balancing factor, a system designed to equalize cars in a unified scoring system regardless of their class, meant Team Scandinavia was thrust into the overnight lead after Saturday.

But ultimately the Mexico TV4 team did enough, led by Mauro’s efforts to defeat his NACAM rival Ricardo Cordero.

A closely fought battle continued from Saturday between Mauro and Cordero across multiple fronts: getting to the finish in one piece to score NACAM points, finishing ahead of the other in the overall classification and deciding which of the Mexican teams would finish second in the Nations classification – TV4 for Mauro and GTO 200 Años for Cordero.

Battling for third overall on the timesheets, the pair had swapped places multiple times on Saturday. But come Sunday Mauro put his foot to the floor quite literally, soaring high over the famous El Brinco jump.

Mauro was desperate to take a stage win by beating Mads Østberg: “In Las Dunas 3, we pushed a lot to take the stage win but Mads won by one second,” he said. And he had promised to push hard on the last loop to make it happen, especially on El Brinco.

“We are going to jump like Taka last year,” Mauro added. And he followed through, traveling further than everyone else and narrowly missing an El Brinco road sign next to the landing of the jump.

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Alejandro Mauro simply wouldn't lift off the gas pedal – even for the famous El Brinco jump

Mauro managed to score his stage win and defeat Cordero in their battle for position by 50.7s.

Nursing an oil leak through Friday and Saturday had proven to be little drama for Østberg. But his rally went from comfortable domination to a brief moment of concern when he picked up a puncture on the second pass of Derramadero. He approached the El Brinco flying finish with the left-rear door wide open.

That scare aside it was a straightforward victory; Østberg won all but one stage of the rally.

Rådstrom joined Østberg on the second step of the Nations podium after finishing seventh in the individual classification; he was unable to resist the charge of Nil Solans on Sunday, as the sole remaining Team Spain driver won the morning passes of Duarte and Las Dunas once performance coefficients were added.

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Rådstrom was fastest among the fleet of production-spec Toyota GR Yarises – but still got to share champagne with his Scandinavian team-mate Østberg

There was little chance of victory for Andrea Mabellini despite running in second place throughout; by the time Østberg had hit trouble, he’d already fallen nearly three minutes behind. Mabellini was also left to represent Italy solo on its way to fourth in the Nations standings: Alberto Battistolli did not restart after his turbo failure on Saturday.

While Scandinavia, Italy and the Mexican teams thrived, others had less to write home about.

Solans almost single-handedly guided the Spanish team to fifth place in the Nations standings, as technical trouble meant Sergi Francoli failed to make it past Saturday morning.

Team France was eliminated after Friday’s action, with the Mitsubishi Lancers driven by world champions Didier Auriol and Julien Ingrassia retiring with technical troubles after the Guanajuato superspecials.

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What might have been: Julien Ingrassia's debut was very short lived

There was also strife for Team United Kingdom. Max McRae retired in service after Saturday’s stages were completed and did not restart, while Tom Williams only made it three miles into Sunday’s first stage, Duarte, before the gearbox in his Lancer became stuck in first gear. He cruised to the end of the stage, drove back to service and retired.

Harri Rovanperä’s Rally of Nations return was at the wheel of a production-spec Toyota GR Yaris, paired up with reigning Nations champion Niki Schelle in a new Rally of Nations Defender team.

Though his team failed to break into the top 10 in the Nations standings, Rovanperä himself did, grabbing ninth as his progress was aided by the demise of Miguel Granados’ Škoda Fabia Rally2 on the second pass of Duarte.