WRC – Ogier heads Rally Mexico leaderboard & targets fifth victory | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC – Ogier heads Rally Mexico leaderboard & targets fifth victory

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Rally Mexico 2019 - Saturday afternoon

Rally Mexico 2019 - Day 2 - S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia

Citroën’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia remain firmly on track for a fifth victory on Rally Guanajuato México after another pulsating day’s action over nine special stages on Saturday. Toyota’s hard-charging Ott Tänak, third placed, begins to turn the screw on M-Sport Ford’s Elfyn Evans, second, with an advantage of only 2.2 seconds. In the WRC 2 category, local hero Benito Guerra holds a massive lead.

The Citroën C3 WRC crew will take an advantage of 27 seconds into the remaining three gravel stages on Sunday, as they bid to reduce Ott Tänak’s early season lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Ogier managed his pace to perfection to stay out of trouble and is at the top of the standings for a second day, despite sliding into the barriers on the first run through Léon’s super special this evening.

Estonia’s Tänak, who began the morning in fourth position, 37.1 seconds behind the defending World Champion, went on a charge in the heat of a Mexican afternoon. After passing team-mate Kris Meeke – when the Ulsterman suffered a puncture and a suspension upright issue – the Toyota Yaris WRC driver began to pressurise Elfyn Evans as the afternoon progressed. The Welshmen held on to his position at the end of the day but a mere 2.2 seconds separate the two heading into Sunday.

Thierry Neuville admitted that he was struggling to find his rhythm and the confidence to challenge for stage wins in his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, but the Belgian held fourth overall at the end of Saturday, 3min 21.4sec. Kris Meeke, who had suffered a puncture and resulting rear-wheel damage in the morning loop, slid wide in the superspecial’s second run, dropped another 45 seconds and then limped around the final street stage stuck in second gear to finish fifth overnight.

Mexican favourite Benito Guerra delivered a body blow to Bolivian youngster Marco Bulacia’s aspirations of preventing a home FIA WRC 2 victory with several impressive stage performances during the course of the day. Guerra returned to León at the end of Saturday in sixth overall and FIA WRC 2 leader, 3min 33.6sec ahead of Bulacia, who stopped for over three minutes in SS13.

Among the FIA WRC 2 entrants, Chile’s Alberto Heller was in second place at the beginning of the afternoon before stopping on two occasions in SS14. He finished third of the category and 13th overall as Saturday came to a close.

Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala began a charge through the tail-enders as the day progressed in a bid to catch the FIA WRC 2 runners. He held eighth at the end of the day.

Mexico’s Ricardo Triviño ran strongly in ninth in his Škoda Fabia R5 while the Hyundai duo Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo were classified in 10th and 11th at the night halt.

The sole entrant in the FIA WRC 2 Pro category on Rally Mexico, Poland’s Lukasz Pieniazek, returned to action on Saturday morning after issues on Friday and remains on course for maximum championship points. He classified 12th overall, over 6 minutes behind eleven placed Mikkelsen.

Three stages bring the action to a conclusion on Sunday. The crews will tackle the 24.38km of Alfaro, then a new Mesa Cuata special of 25.07km that uses a large section of El Chocolate and will finish in the points-scoring Power Stage at Las Minas.

2019 Rally Guanajuato México – Unofficial results after SS18  / Section 5:

1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA)

Citroën C3 WRC

2hrs 57min 21.4sec

2. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR)

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hrs 57min 48.4sec

3. Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST)       

Toyota Yaris WRC

2hrs 57min 50.6sec

4. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL)

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

2hrs 58min 37.1sec

5. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Sebastian Marshall (GBR)

Toyota Yaris WRC

3hrs 01min 58.5sec

6. Benito Guerra (MEX)/Jaime Zapata (MEX)

Škoda Fabia R5 (WRC 2)

3hrs 09min 27.4sec

7. Marco Bulacia (BOL)/Fabian Cretu (ARG)

Škoda Fabia R5 (WRC 2)

3hrs 13min 01.0sec

8. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN)

Toyota Yaris WRC

3hrs 13min 53.8sec

9. Ricardo Triviño (MEX)/Marc Marti (ESP)

Škoda Fabia R5 (WRC 2)    

3hrs 19min 21.0sec

10. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP)

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

3hrs 19min 21.1sec