Ott Tänak finished ninth at Rally Mexico over the weekend, after turbocharger trouble in the Ford Puma on day two had caused him to drop back. The Estonian returned to take second place in the final El Brinco Wolf Power Stage on the Sunday, however, and so took six points away even after a relatively unsuccessful race.
Tänak started the race, the first run on gravel for the 2023 season and the third stage overall, in fine form off the back of his win in Sweden last month, where he and co-driver Martin Järveoja saw off the big works teams, Toyota and Hyundai, and took victory for M-Sport Ford.
However, while Tänak took an early lead Thursday, 1.7 seconds ahead of reigning champion Kalle Rovanperä, after winning the first two street stages, turbo issues on Friday's opening El Chocolate stage caused him to fall much further back down the field.
Tänak was able to pull back to the top 10 towards the end of the weekend, however, finally finishing ninth 15 minutes and 19.6 seconds behind eventual winner, veteran French driver Sebastien Ogier in the Toyota Yaris.
"Hopefully this kind of rally won't happen again. We have to make some changes - we certainly can't continue in this way," he said, post race.
Ogier finished ahead of Tänak's former teammate at Hyundai, Thierry Neuville, who was followed by Welshman Elfyn Evans (Toyota) and then Rovanperä.
Ogier took the lead on Saturday, which he then retained, after Friday's leader Esapekka Lappia (Finland, Hyundai) crashed, spectacularly, into a telegraph pole (see video below).
The result also puts eight-time world champion Ogier at the top of the WRC drivers' table with 56 points, albeit at an early stage in the season, while Neuville is close behind on 53 points, just one point ahead of Rovanperä.
Tänak, who won the WRC series back in 2019 for Toyota, currently lies fourth in the table, on 47 points.
The next WRC stage takes place in Croatia, April 20-23.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Siim Boikov