The first full gravel event of the season is being led by reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier after the opening 150 kilometres of competitive action. The Frenchman has however been in the thick of a battle with Mads Østberg throughout the day and the Norwegian is now 26.1 seconds adrift in second. Jari-Matti Latvala, who has been running at the head of the field sweeping the roads of loose gravel, is third overnight, a further 16.4 seconds behind.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico started last night in the vibrant city of Guanajuato, where tens of thousands of spectators packed the narrow streets to watch the start and first street stage through the tunnels of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Ogier claimed honours here, but today’s action took the crews into the mountains for two loops of four stages before returning to Leon for two runs around the short super special stage.
Ogier maintained his lead after the first stage this morning, but Østberg came into his own for the rest of the morning, heading the field while in a tight battle with the Frenchman. He held the lead through the first loop of stages, and into the afternoon, but Ogier’s fight back saw him inch ahead and extend his advantage over the closing stages of the day. It has been an impressive performance from both, as well as Ogier’s team-mate Latvala, who has minimised the time loss caused by running at the head of the field. He also benefitted from the retirement of Mikko Hirvonen and Kris Meeke late this afternoon; Hirvonen out with an electrical problem and Meeke with broken suspension, both in SS8.
As a consequence, Robert Kubica climbed into fourth, the Pole running well in his first outing in Mexico. He lost some time having to use the manual gear shift when the hydraulic system overheated but had otherwise escaped unscathed until rolling in the first of the two super special stages this evening. Elfyn Evans, another Mexico first-timer, is therefore fourth with Thierry Neuville leading the Hyundai challenge in fifth, just 1.5 seconds behind. His team-mate Chris Atkinson has had a difficult start to the rally, stopping on the super special last night and then suffering a suspension problem today. The Australian is however eighth this evening. Martin Prokop holds sixth and Benito Guerra, the only Mexican driving a World Rally Car, is upholding national honours in seventh despite having to contend with a loose steering rack this morning. The other leading retirement of the day was Andreas Mikkelsen, the Norwegian out on the second stage after hitting a rock and breaking the suspension.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico – Unofficial Results after Day 1