Sébastien Ogier tops the leaderboard of Rally Guanajuato Mexico after the first full day of competition in the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The French Volkswagen driver has however come under pressure from Qatar M-Sport’s Mads Østberg but nevertheless overnights with a 33 second lead. Third position is held by Mikko Hirvonen in the leading Citroën DS3 WRC.
Rally Mexico got underway last night with its traditional opening ceremony in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Guanajuato, where thousands of fans lined the cobblestone streets for one of the most colourful ceremonies in the Championship. The crews then immediately contested two short stages which were won by Thierry Neuville and Ogier respectively, giving Ogier the early advantage.
Today, however, the contenders headed into the hills for a long day which included two loops of four stages split by a short street stage in Leon, and then rounded off with two runs through a super special stage. In total, the day took in 11 stages and 160.75 competitive kilometres. By the mid-day service Ogier had claimed three stage victories, losing out to Østberg in two, but pulled out a 12.9 second advantage. The duo shared the mountain stage wins this afternoon but while Ogier had a trouble-free run, Østberg was not completely at ease in his Fiesta RS WRC and dropped precious time towards the end of the day. Ogier also rounded a successful day off with victory in both runs around the short super special stage this evening. Mikko Hirvonen has climbed from fourth into third, the Finn pushing hard but unable to make up ground on his rivals.
Thierry Neuville, in fourth, has run well but lost time in SS4 when he slowed to preserve the tyres, dropping him from third to fourth. He is just under 30 seconds adrift of Hirvonen and well placed ahead of Dani Sordo. Nasser Al-Attiyah rounds off the top six.
It was a dramatic morning for some of the crews and Jari-Matti Latvala was the first to succumb to the conditions. In the opening stage the Finn hit a rock and broke the suspension on his Polo R WRC. While he is able to re-start tomorrow under Rally 2 regulations, massive time penalties will force the team and the Finn into test mode. Evgeny Novikov suffered disappointment too; the Russian dropped eight minutes in the same stage after a rock penetrated the floor of the car and damaged some of the connections to the ECU. While he and co-driver Ilka Minor affected repairs, one of the connectors came loose on the next stage, dropping him yet more time. Chris Atkinson broke the steering and while he too was able to make repairs on the road section after the stage, time penalties for being late at the start of the following test dropped him down the order. He is 10th overnight.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico – Unofficial Results after Day 1