Stohl returns to rallying in Mexico
Former OMV Team World Rally Championship driver Manfred Stohl returned to rallying to win last weekend's Rally Mexico.
In its rotational season away from the WRC, the Leon-based event developed a separate competition within the usual Rally of Nations, which was won by Spanish team Dani Sola and Xevi Pons, both of whom have driven for factory WRC teams in previous seasons. Mitsubishi driver Stohl moved into the lead of the event on Saturday afternoon when his Austrian team-mate Andreas Aigner suffered a puncture on his Lancer. Stohl collected US$15,000 for his victory, while the Spaniards walked away with $50,000 for the team award. Despite having enjoyed the event, Stohl criticized the complicated scoring system for the Rally of Nations element.
"The Spanish team won, but they didn't have a driver in the top three," said Stohl. "There needs to be more weight on the way the points are given to the drivers. Having said that, I thought it was a fantastic idea and I hope it continues."
Former World Rally Champion Didier Auriol returned to collect third overall in his Lancer. The winner of the 1994 WRC title admitted he'd enjoyed his return, but pointed out that he had no plans to make it a full-time return.
"It wasn't easy to come back and drive again," said Auriol, "particularly in a car which I didn't know and had never driven before. This was my job for a very long time and while this was interesting, I wouldn't do it full-time again – but I will come back to Mexico if I'm invited."
Last week's Rally Mexico ran a street stage through the centre of Leon for the first time and this is expected to remain in place next season when the central American roads return to the full WRC calendar. Citroen privateer and 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg was an interested on-looker and driver of the zero (course) car on last week's event.