Rally Mexico: Latvala conquered El Chocolate and took the lead from Ogier
Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Motorsport) is leading Rally Mexico classification after the second day of the event, which was in a fact first full day of proper action. Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R WRC was the fastest car on five of seven Friday’s stages.
Half a minute advantage over Ogier
The Finn will start on the Saturday’s opening stage with 32.1sec advantage over team-mate Sebastien Ogier. Hyundai’s Dani Sordo held third place all day and finished 1m 15.6sec off the lead and half a minute in front of third Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen. There was a close battle for fifth place between Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) and Mads Ostberg (Ford), the gap after 10 special stages is 14.8sec.
Latvala fastest in both runs through El Chocolate
The keys on the success were Latvala’s wins at two runs over the longest stage of the day – 54.21km long El Chocolate. Latvala started eight in the opening stage and profited from roads swept clear of loose gravel. His advantage ahead second fastest Dani Sordo was 22.1 seconds. Sebastien Ogier, who suffered more than anyone in the loose gravel, because he was first on the road, was third fastest, 22.3s behind Latvala.
Neuville retired, but he will restart
Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth, almost 40sec down on Latvala’s pace. He was nearly 10sec faster than Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon. New Zealander was the last inside one minute gap, sixth-placed Mads Ostberg was 66sec slower than Latvala. Ostberg’s team-mate Eric Camilli lost more than five minutes after changing a rear left puncture, but his problem was nothing compared to Thierry Neuville‘s trouble. Belgian spun into a bank over a crest and the impact broke the suspension of his Hyundai i20, so he retired. He will restart on Day 3.
Latvala was fastest again in the afternoon
The classification from El Chocolate stage determined overall results and there were no major changes after two more morning stages. First was 15.36km long Las Minas, again won by Latvala, and second was Leon street stage. Latvala’s lead over Ogier was 21.2s after the loop of three stages.
“I didn’t expect to be so much in the lead. It’s hard to know what speed you’re driving at. Sometimes you feel you can go faster but then you’re too much sideways. This afternoon I expect there will be some cleaning, but not a lot. If I can keep the same rhythm and keep taking time, that would be good,” Latvala said.
One more driver who retired was Mexican hero Benito Guerra. He damaged his Ford Fiesta RS WRC after a heavy landing over a crest in Las Minas.
Latvala was fastest again in a second pass through El Chocolate, this time 10sec faster than Ogier. Hayden Paddon was third fastest and re-took fifth place overall from Mads Ostberg. Latvala then repeated the win at the second pass through Las Minas stage and secured his comfort lead. Two short super special stages at Leon were won by Latvala and Ogier, but the standing order remained the same.
Video: Here’s some action from Mexico