How had Ford done it? Yes, they had been beaten – and convincingly – to victory on Rally Mexico by Sebastien Loeb’s Citroen DS3, but Ford had clearly made a giant leap forward. Were it not for a catalogue of mishaps, the team could have recorded their first WRC win in Mexico for eight years.
Petter Solberg got the ball rolling by going fastest across the pre-event qualifying stage. He also had the pace to maintain a healthy lead during the early stages before being struck down with a puncture. From then on, Solberg would be a continual podium threat, but it was team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala who would lead Ford’s charge for victory.
Fresh off his win in Sweden, Latvala ended the qualifying stage mystified that his Fiesta RS had only recorded the fourth fastest time. Whatever gear ratios and screws were tightened overnight though took immediate effect when Latvala stormed into the lead midway through day one. Then the rot set in.
Working with inaccurate pace notes, Latvala’s front suspension was heavily damaged when the Fiesta made contact with a large rock on the fifth stage. This dropped the Finn nearly two minutes off early leader Mikko Hirvonen in the Citroen, and caused the red mist to descend.