WRC Mexico: Ogier powers into commanding lead from Evans

by Sports Staff

The eight-time world champion, competing in a partial WRC campaign, assumed the lead on Saturday morning after Hyundai rival Esapekka Lappi crashed out on stage 11.

Once ahead, Ogier was able to extend his advantage to 35.8s over Toyota’s team-mate Evans, who came under attack from Hyundai’s Neuville. Evans managed to hang onto to second, albeit with a slender 4.3s margin.

World champion Kalle Rovanpera will head into Sunday in a comfortable fourth (+1m34.0s) ahead of Hyundai’s Dani Sordo (+2m21.2), while WRC2 driver Gus Greensmith ended the day in sixth overall to lead the second tier class.

M-Sport’s Ott Tanak climbed to fringes of the points paying position in 11th after a positive outing in the Ford Puma that included two stage wins.

Officials were forced to cancel the afternoon’s first stage, a second pass through Ibarrilla due to the damage caused following Lappi’s crash on Saturday morning.

That meant crews headed straight to stage 16, El Mosquito, where Ogier delivered a mesmerising performance to further extend his rally lead.

The Toyota driver blew away the opposition on the 22.56km test to reach the stage end a staggering 8.1s faster than nearest rival Neuville. The time surprised the six-time Rally Mexico winner, who increased his lead to 36.8s.

“I think it’s all down to tyre management because I felt a lot that the tyre was dropping towards the end. I am anyway very smooth with that so I believe they suffered more than me,” said Ogier.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

Neuville had laid down an impressive benchmark that was 0.2s faster than Evans, as the battle for second overall between the pair raged on.

Rovanpera was still unable to challenge the top of the leaderboard thanks to his road position and compromised tyre choice, but was only 0.7s slower than Evans.

Neuville continued his pursuit of second by winning stage 17 with a 2.6s margin over Evans, to bring the gap between the pair down to 5.9s.

Ogier didn’t repeat the blistering display on the previous stage but maintained a strong pace to finish 3.1s behind Neuville.

Tanak was fourth fastest as the Estonian began to show front running running speed from the M-Sport Ford. His run through the stage was aggressive and included a run in with an inflatable sponsor arch.

Rovanpera’s pass was eventful too with the Finn suffering a spin in a slow section, which cost the Toyota driver 15.9s.

“I had a spin in a really narrow place. I was stuck between the barriers and I had to reverse many times. It was in a slow place and after that I tried to have a normal pace,” said Rovanpera.

However, he fared better than M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet, who clipped a rock with the right rear of his Puma which forced the Frenchman to retire early for the second consecutive day. He will rejoin the rally on Sunday.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

Tanak claimed the penultimate stage of the day, a third run through the Las Dunas gravel superspecial. It was the Estonian’s third stage win of the rally as he denied Rovanpera by 0.1s.

Although hampered by a puncture, Neuville nibbled another 1.1s from Evans as the Belgian set his sights on taking second.

Read Also:

  • WRC Mexico: Ogier inherits healthy lead after Lappi exit
  • Lappi crashes out of WRC Mexico lead on Saturday’s opening stage

Leader, Ogier could afford not to push and subsequently enjoyed a clean run, but dropped 2.3s in the process.

Tanak took out the final superspecial of the day at the Leon service park, pipping Neuville by 0.9s. The latter managed to again take 0.5s from Evans to end the day 4.3s behind in the overall standings.

WRC2 drivers only completed five stages after stages 11-13 were cancelled in the morning. However, Toksport Skoda driver Greensmith will head into the final day with a 31.6s lead over M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux.

Four stages, including the event’s longest test at 35.63km, await crews on Sunday.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment