After three years away, Rally México returned to the World Rally Championship and provided us with an action-packed weekend.
From a dominant Sébastien Ogier victory to a battle for second that went down to the line, it had it all.
Colin Clark has prepared his scores, and these are his ratings for the drivers:
Sébastien Ogier 10/10
Rally México result: 1st
An absolute masterclass in how to tackle one of the most challenging events on the calendar. When it comes to strategic driving, México is probably the biggest test faced by our drivers all year and Ogier showed without any doubt he is the most intelligent, disciplined and strategically focused driver out there.
He didn’t put a wheel out of line all weekend and never looked like anything other than the winner.
Two stages for me stand out in particular.
His drive through SS16 which he won by over eight seconds, from Neuville and Evans who were battling tooth and nail for second place, was truly outstanding.
And then his powerstage win when he really didn’t have to push at all, to take maximum points and head the world championship.
What does all this tell us? Well for me it says that Ogier is driving better than perhaps he ever has done in his career.
Now I know there’s a lot that plays into this, not least the fact that he clearly is happier than ever with his situation in life right now and is enjoying his driving perhaps more than he has ever done.
Ogier is pure class, and if he should choose to do so, could well yet add another title to his mighty impressive tally.
Elfyn Evans 8/10
Rally México result: 3rd
Yet another step in the right direction for the battling Toyota driver. It’s certainly proving to be a long road back to the top for Elfyn after the highs of 2020 and 2021, but for sure he is getting there.
This was a confident, controlled drive that probably deserved better, but a damaged steering arm two stages from home robbed him of that chance.
What is obviously missing is that killer, full out assault on stages that we see regularly employed by the likes of Tänak and in particular Neuville.
One step at a time though for Evans, find that comfortable stage winning pace again, and then unleash that beast within when needed – rally wins will surely follow.
Kalle Rovanperä 5/10
Rally México result: 4th
A bit of a lacklustre weekend from the reigning champ.
OK, so he didn’t have the best road position on Friday, yet he was only one car ahead of Neuville who showed remarkable pace and battling abilities at times.
It was an unusually scruffy weekend, typified by his costly mistake in the powerstage.
This time last year, Kalle was miles ahead in the championship and all we were talking about was when, and not if, he would be crowned champion.
He’s certainly not lost anything this year, I just think the opposition have upped their game and no one can expect an easy ride to the title.
With things being so tight at the top, he really can’t afford too many weekends like this one.
Takamoto Katsuta 3/10
Rally México result: 23rd
When you come to México for the first time, you cannot afford to be anything other than conservative. It has to be a strategy to get you through the event and nothing else. This is such a unique and particular challenge that every kilometre of seat time counts enormously.
And Katsuta blew it big time way too early in the rally.
A very disappointing effort from a driver who we know has the pace to challenge for podiums and the intelligence to think he way through rallies.
This time he sadly lacked discipline.
Needs to bounce back quickly after two big disappointments in a row.
Thierry Neuville 9/10
Rally México result: 2nd
I very often refer to Ott Tänak as The Warrior, and it’s very obvious why. But with Thierry Neuville, we have another driver fully worthy of that warrior title.
His ability to take that car to the limit, which while enormously improved is far from the finished article, is at times quite breath-taking.
He battles with unpredictable understeer and oversteer and still seems to be able to put it on the edge and fight to extract every last tenth of pace from the car.
Neuville has nerves of steel and he showed that here many, many times.
Esapekka Lappi 4/10
Rally México result: DNF
Make no mistake, this is a very different Esapekka Lappi we are seeing out in the stages this year. I’ve always maintained that he is one of the most naturally gifted, quickest drivers out there. But for most of his senior career, something has been missing.
Well, whatever that was, I think he’s now found it. There’s an air of confidence about him that I like, and those niggling moments of self-doubt seem to have been dispelled.
Lappi now knows he fully deserves his seat at the top table and can quite clearly compete to be top dog.
Saturday’s mistake was mighty unfortunate, but will be a lesson well learned for Esapekka.
He knows he now has the pace and the ability, what we have to see going forward is discipline and nous.
Oh, and gets one extra point from me for owning his mistake and so graciously giving us an interview from the scene of his crash. Not every driver is as big as that.
Dani Sordo 5/10
Rally México result: 5th
Sordo’s weekend was hamstrung by an unfortunate puncture on Friday afternoon which meant that he drove around in no-man’s land for a good part of the rally.
A podium is what Sordo wanted here but at the end of the day it was a solid drive to deliver once again what the team needed.
Sordo is reliable and dependant and when you are fighting for a manufacturer’s championship, he’s undoubtedly the man you want in your corner.
Ott Tänak 4/10
Rally México result: 9th
Ott knew this one was going to be difficult, first on the road in México is always punishing. But things quickly went south when a turbo issue in the opening stage proper meant Tänak found himself 12 minutes down by Friday lunchtime.
Now, I know from that position it’s difficult to haul yourself back, particularly with such a strong supporting field in WRC2, but with very little to lose, I just didn’t see any of that battling, warrior like ability we know Tänak has in spades.
Clearly the car is still a long way from Tänak’s liking and he’s pushing the team to their absolute limits to make the changes he needs.
At the end of the day though, good powerstage points added to his two points for clawing his way back to ninth overall mean Tänak’s title ambitions are still very much alive.
Pierre-Louis Loubet 2/10
Rally México result: 26th
Like Taka-san, Pierre-Louis was making his first appearance here in México and like Taka-san, he failed to make the most of it.
I could almost copy and paste my comments on Katsuta here, but if anything, Loubet’s efforts were even more disappointing. He’s a young man who has come a very long way in the last 15 months, but he really can’t afford too many weekends like this one.
A steady, disciplined drive was all that was need here to deliver a decent result, but sadly there wasn’t much steadiness or discipline on display.
He’s developing into a very fine driver with some potential, but last weekend was a reminder that he still has a lot of work to put in and a long way to go.
Gus Greensmith 9/10
Rally México result: 1st
Stepping back to WRC2 this year could well prove to be the making of Greensmith as a top line driver.
By a long, long way this was the most impressive performance of his career to date.
Pacey, confident and disciplined all week, he never looked like anything other than a winner.
This one will have answered many questions and hopefully silenced many of Greensmith’s detractors.