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Sebastien Ogier, driving a Volkswagen, won the Rally of Mexico on Sunday, seeing off Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen of Finland and Belgian Thierry Neuville, who claimed his first podium finish in a Ford Fiesta.
Ogier consolidated his overall season lead, bagging his first success in Mexico on the back of 16 stage wins to land his ninth career victory.
He finished 3min 28sec clear of Hirvonen with Neuville more than a minute further back as the Finn finished runner-up for the third straight year.
Ogier, giving his Polo R its debut win on gravel, took charge from the third special and was never in danger after Norwegian Mads Ostberg of Ford had to withdraw with electrical problems during Saturday's 14th special stage.
Overall reigning champion Sebastien Loeb, who had won in Mexico six times, did not compete in the event as he has reduced his commitments for this season.
Ogier now leads Loeb by 31 points in the overall season standings with Hirvonen third 13 points further back.
"The start of the season is just amazing for us," said Ogier. "We want to thank the team because the car was perfect again all weekend. Okay, just a small alarm this morning with a sensor but it was not a drama, and here we are again at the end with a perfect amount of points," he told wrc.com.
"Now we have quite a good lead for the championship after just three rallies. For sure the season will be long, but already it's not bad."
Hirvonen could only lament yet another second place finish in the hills above the city of Leon.
"Second place - back to normal! Of course, I'm happy to get my first podium of this year but Sebastien was so fast and we couldn't match his pace."