Xavier Xevi Pons is a Spanish rally driver who recorded 62 starts in the World Rally Championship between 2003 and 2014, not scoring wins or podiums in the overall results. However, Pons was the 2010 world champion in the SWRC category, driving the Ford Fiesta S2000. Besides stage rallying, Pons participated two times at Dakar Rally with Ford Ranger, finishing 29th in 2016 and retiring after a crash in 2017.
Pons started racing career with motorcycles
Xavier 'Xevi' Pons Puigdillers was born on January 21, 1980, in Vic, Spain. He started his racing career with motorcycles and won the Spanish national enduro championship in 1998. In the same year, he competed with the Spanish junior team at the International Six Days Enduro and won the Junior World Trophy. He repeated a victory at Six Days event in 2000 and also finished as the runner-up in the Spanish championship. He was the vice-champion one more time in 2001.
Switch to rally in 2002, WRC debut in 2003
In 2002, Xevi Pons switched to rallying, driving the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI mostly in the Catalunyan events. In 2003, he was Group N Spanish champion and second in the overall standings of the Spanish gravel championship, still driving the Mitsubishi.
Pons debuted in the WRC at Swedish Rally in February 2003 with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V, finishing 25th in the N4 class standings. After two retirements on WRC events in Finland and France, Pons showed good performance at his home event, the Rally Catalunya, finishing 15th overall and was a Group N winner with Lancer Evo VII. His fifth WRC event that year was Wales Rally GB, where he finished fifth in N4 class.
Pons combined JWRC and PWRC duties in 2004
In 2004, Pons had a double WRC programme, competing in the Junior World Rally Championship and the Production World Rally Championship. He was using two S1600 cars (Punto and Clio) in the JWRC, scoring one podium and finishing 9th in the points.
He was more successful in the PWRC with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, scoring three wins (Germany, France, Australia). He finished 4th in the points. Pons also collected his first points in the overall classification, finishing sixth at Rally Australia.
Driving two World Rally Cars in 2005
Pons started 2005 WRC season with privately-entered Peugeot 206 WRC at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but he didn't finish the race due to engine failure. He was driving Peugeot on two more WRC events (Mexico and Sardinia), combining those rides with four participations in the production class.
In June 2006, he joined OMV World Rally Team to drive #17 Citroen Xsara WRC until the end of the season. In eight events with Citroen, his best result was the fourth place at Rally Catalunya. He missed the podium by only 1.2 seconds, which was his gap behind Mikko Hirvonen. At the end of the season, Pons was 15th in the WRC classification.
2006 - full season with Kronos Total Citroen
For the 2006 WRC season, Pons joined Kronos Total Citroën team, partnering the two-time world champion Sebastien Loeb. In the first part of the season, he was four times in the points, with fourth place in Sardinia as the best result. He continued to drive for the team Citroen but other drivers were nominated for the points in several events.
However, in Turkey, Pons finished fourth and after that, he returned to Kronos' second car. Until the end of the season, he was fourth in Australia and New Zealand and fifth in the final race in Wales. With 32 collected points, Pons finished in seventh place, which remained his career-best result.
2007 – season with Mitsubishi and Subaru
In 2007, Pons started the season participating in three events with Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05. After that, he skipped five WRC events, returning to the competition with Subaru World Rally Team at Rally Finland.
He finished sixth in Finland, driving the Subaru Impreza S12B WRC 07. Pons participated in eight events with Subaru but Finland's sixth place remained his best result of the season. With four points on his account, he was 16th in the WRC classification.
Two seasons out of WRC
For the next two seasons, Pons was completely out of WRC, competing only in the Spanish rally events. In 2008, he was the Spanish gravel rally champion with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX but he also competed with Porsche 997 GT RS in some events.
In 2009, he was again combining Mitsubishi and Porsche, finishing first in the Group N and fifth in GT class of the Spanish championship.
Victorious return to the World Rally Championship in 2010
In 2010, Xevi Pons returned to the WRC in the newly formed SWRC class, driving a Ford Fiesta S2000 for the Nupel Global Racing team. His navigator was Alex Haro. They started the season with two class wins (Mexico and Jordan) and two podiums (New Zealand and Portugal). Pons finished the season with a podium at Wales Rally GB, clinching the PWRC title ahead of Patrik Sandell and Martin Prokop.
He was three times among the point scorers in the overall classification, so he finished in 15th place on the WRC drivers' list.
Back to national rallying in 2011
With a world trophy in his pocket, in 2011, Pons again focused on national rallying, still driving the Ford Fiesta S2000. He finished fifth in the Spanish championship. His only WRC event was Rally Catalunya, where he retired during the second day.
In 2012 and 2013, Pons took two consecutive Spanish gravel rally championship titles with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. In selected events, he was also driving the Porsche 997 GT3 RS.
Four last WRC events and switch to Dakar Rally
Pons returned one more time to the WRC, participating in four events of the 2014 season, driving Mitsubishi in Italy and Ford Fiesta R5 in three events (Germany, France, Spain). His best result was the third place in the RC2 class at ADAC Rallye Deutschland. The last WRC event for Pons was 2014 Rally Catalunya.
After that, he slowed down his rallying activities, focusing on Dakar Rally. In January 2016, he had a successful debut at Dakar Rally with South Racing's Ford Ranger and took the third place. He reached the finish and was classified 29th. In 2017, the race started well, with the second fastest time on Stage 1. But, Pons rolled his Ford Ranger on the next stage and the game was over.