Mexico WRC: Ogier in control as Neuville shuffles the deck
Three different drivers won the trio of stages that formed Saturday’s morning loop on the World Rally Championship’s visit to Mexico, but overnight leader Sebastien Ogier continues to hold a secure lead.
A revised running order to start the new day put Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville at the front of the field, sweeping the stages after retiring yesterday with an electrical failure. Restarting under Rally 2 rules, the Belgian’s focus could only be on getting up the order to retrieve as many manufacturer points as possible, but on the opening run through Guanajuatito his road position put him 25 seconds off the pace of Ogier’s stage-winning Toyota.
At this point the Belgian slowed for what were understood to be technical issues. The delay forced him to drop back from the first starting position and line up in fourth on the road at the start of the day’s second timed test at Alfaro.
Whatever the problem was, it was cured sufficiently for Neuville to immediately claim the stage victory, heading team-mate Ott Tanak by 2.9 seconds. Another scintillating Neuville performance on the third stage of the day at Derramadero was stymied by a quick trip down an escape road – albeit costing less time than might have been lost by running first on the road. Tanak claimed that stage victory.
Hyundai’s net stage pace gains were Toyota’s loss, with Kalle Rovanpera and Elfyn Evans both nudged further up the running order to accommodate Neuville’s miraculous recovery. This had left only M-Sport youngster Gus Greensmith’s Fiesta to clear a path in front of them and neither of the Yaris drivers were able to attack in the manner that they had hoped.
Timo Suninen’s M-Sport Fiesta remains in second place but has dropped more than 10 seconds off leader Ogier. The Finn now finds the third-placed Hyundai of defending champion Tanak, only 6.6 seconds in arrears.
If the Estonian is able to maintain that sort of pace until tomorrow’s finish, and if teammate Neuville continues as the joker in the pack, then Ogier will have to summon all his famous composure to claim a record-equalling sixth Rally Mexico win.
|1|| Sébastien Ogier
|Toyota Yaris WRC||2:03’08.800|
|2|| Teemu Suninen
|Ford Fiesta WRC||2:03’37.100||28.300|
|3|| Ott Tanak
|Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2:03’43.700||34.900|
|4|| Elfyn Evans
|Toyota Yaris WRC||2:03’53.100||44.300|
|5|| Kalle Rovanperä
|Toyota Yaris WRC||2:04’31.200||1’22.400|
|6|| Pontus Tidemand
|Škoda Fabia R5 Evo||2:10’19.900||7’11.100|
|7|| Nikolay Gryazin
|Hyundai i20 R5||2:11’16.800||8’08.000|
|Citroën C3 R5||2:13’04.700||9’55.900|
|9|| Ole Christian Veiby
|Hyundai i20 R5||2:15’30.800||12’22.000|
|10|| Gus Greensmith
|Ford Fiesta WRC||2:16’05.000||12’56.200|
|View full results|
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