VW AND OGIER ON TOP AND MORE EXPERIENCE FOR THE CITROËN CREWS–
- Having started day two of Rally Guanajuato Corona in second position, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson were forced to retire after SS12. They will rejoin tomorrow under Rally 2 rules.
- Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle enjoyed an error-free day, improving from thirteenth to ninth position by this evening and recording a first stage win.
- There are four stages left for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers to score points at this Mexican round of the WRC.
After a very successful first leg, Mads Østberg set off this morning to attack the stages in the Sierra de Lobos. However, on Ibarrilla 1, the Norwegian hit a bank just 200 metres shy of the finish.
It was only after passing the stop control that the crew noticed that part of the suspension was broken. Despite their attempts to repair the damage before the next stage with “a Viking fix”, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended up running out of time. They will be allowed to rejoin tomorrow under Rally 2 rules.
Still learning about the Mexican stages, Kris Meeke nonetheless showed commitment and focus. After improving in the second loop, the Briton managed to record his first stage win on SS18 to move up into ninth position in the overall standings.
The final leg is made up of four stages, including a 56 kilometre-long test. SS22, El Brinco, will serve as the Power Stage in which bonus points will be up for grabs. The rally is scheduled to finish in Leòn at 2.30pm.
Mads Østberg: “I was pushing on the first stage. Shortly before the finish, there was a quick section ahead of a braking point for a right-hand bend. My pace notes weren’t right. I didn’t brake hard enough, so we carried too much speed and hit a bank on the outside of the corner as we exited it. We managed to finish the stage but the suspension was too damaged to be able to continue. We worked as hard as possible to carry out repairs but we just didn’t have enough time to make it to the start of the next stage.”
Kris Meeke: “The stages are really complicated when you haven’t experienced them before. You have to find the right rhythm. The roads are slippery with some very narrow, twisty sections. I was struggling to feel confident on the first pass. We are doing everything for the first time, which is part and parcel of the learning process. Once you’re more familiar with the stages, everything is a lot more straightforward. So, the feeling was a lot better this afternoon and I think you can see that in the times.”
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Mads’ strategy was to drive at a strong pace in order to consolidate his second position. Unfortunately, an ill-judged pace note means his name has been added to the long list of drivers caught out at this Rally Mexico. Although he tried to repair the damage, he was unable to continue. He will rejoin tomorrow under Rally 2 rules to prepare for the next round of the WRC in Portugal. Kris’ goal was to complete all of the stages. He drove at a sensible pace to ensure he built up some more experience. He is improving on a rally where he is competing for the first time.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS12 – Ibarrilla 1 (30.33km) – Rally leader Sébastien Ogier set the fastest time. In the final section of the stage, Mads Østberg ran wide exiting a corner and damaged the suspension on his car. Although he made it to the end of the stage, he retired on the road section leading to Otates. Sixth fastest time for Kris Meeke, who moved up to twelfth overall.
SS13 – Otates (53.69km) – On the day’s longest stage, Sébastien Ogier finished ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala. Kris Meeke moved back into the top 10. Andreas Mikkelsen and Robert Kubica retired.
SS14 – Ibarrilla 2 (30.33km) – Sébastien Ogier kept up his series of stage wins. Fourth fastest on this test, Kris Meeke continued to improve.
SS15 – Otatitos (43.06km) – Another fourth fastest time for Kris Meeke on this long stage, lasting over thirty minutes. Meanwhile, Sébastien Ogier extended his lead at the front.
SS16 – El Brinco 1 (8.25km) – Kris Meeke moved up a place in the overall standings during this live televised stage to grab ninth position. Sébastien Ogier went fastest once again, just ahead of Mikko Hirvonen.
SS17 and SS18 – Super Special 3 and 4 (2.21km) – After a spin on the first run, Kris Meeke went on to set the fastest time on the day’s final stage. Jari-Matti Latvala went fastest on SS17.
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:36:42.2
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:00.3
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:37.0
4. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:24.0
5. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:02.5
6. Benito Guerra / Borja Rozada (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +10:33.6
7. Chris Atkinson / Stéphane Prévot (Hyundai i20 WRC) +12:18.3
8. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +16:09.4
9. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +17:18.9
10. Yuriy Protasov / Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta R5) +17:35.0