Citroen's Sebastien Ogier has re-taken top spot on Rally Mexico this afternoon and will now run first on the road on Saturday, although the first leg is not yet completely over, as two short super specials remain to be run.
Ogier began the afternoon loop just behind his team-mate, Sebastien Loeb and with the threat of a penalty hanging over him – after he initially went straight to service post-SS5 rather than going to the re-grouping area – he was a man on a mission, setting the pace in SS6 and SS7. He concluded the loop with the second best time in SS8, enough to stay ahead of Loeb after the WRC record man opted to ease off slightly in El Cubilete 2 to ensure he won't have to start first in the order on Saturday.
“I think it is important to stay in the lead. We will see but it has been a good day anyway,” Ogier noted.
“Second on the road now for tomorrow. That is good. It is a perfect day. Seb (Ogier) has been very fast and I have been pushing on the limit to stay on his pace,” Loeb added.
Meanwhile, Mikko Hirvonen inherited third, when Petter Solberg had throttle problems in SS6 and lost more than 6 minutes. The Norwegian now lies outside the top ten and in 13th place.
“We had to do some modifications [after SS6]. We had a problem with a broken wire,” Solberg explained. “I am very disappointed. It was looking very good with a good starting position. I can only do the best I can though and I can do no more than that now.”
Further down the order, Jari-Matt Latvala was another to benefit from Solberg's misfortune and with Britain's Matt Wilson also stopping in SS7 - the Brit had been as high as fourth in the classification, J-M now finds himself one place off the podium, albeit 1.5 minutes behind his Ford Abu Dhabi team-mate. Considering he lost over two minutes with a puncture in SS4 this morning though, he won't be too disappointed.
“It is better for us now. Apart from the puncture it was okay today,” said the Crash.net
Evgeny Novikov on his return to the WRC rounds out the top five, just three seconds back, with Henning Solberg next up ahead of Denis Kuipers and SWRC class leader, Nasser Al-Attiyah. Al-Attiyah heads the SWRC category by 24.2 seconds, ahead of Ott Tanak and Martin Prokop, who in addition to being second and third in the SWRC, are also ninth and tenth overall.
Of the rest, Ken Block was another to have problems this afternoon and was forced to stop in SS8. Not a good event for the American, who also was unable to start the super special on Thursday night due to an electrical problem. At least he did most of the day's stages however, unlike Federico Villagra, who crashed out in SS2.
The opening leg now concludes with two runs through the 2.21 km Super Special. SS9 is due to start at 19.45 hours local time [01.45 hours British time].
Rally Mexico: Overall standings after Stage 8 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1hour 24mins 04.2secs
2. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 01.6secs
3. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 19.6secs
4. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 51.3secs
5. Evgeny Novikov
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 54.3secs
6. Henning Solberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 11.7secs
7. Denis Kuipers
FERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 55.9secs
8. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Ford Fiesta S2000 +05mins 01.5secs
9. Ott Tanak
Ford Fiesta S2000 +05mins 25.7secs
10. Martin Prokop
Ford Fiesta S2000 +05mins 52.1secs
11. Mads Ostberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 15.8secs
12. Juho Hanninen
Skoda Fabia S2000 +07mins 06.2secs
13. Petter Solberg
PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC +07mins 04.9secs
15. Matthew Wilson
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +12mins 47.5secs
17. Ken Block
Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +18mins 30.2secs
20. Federico Villagra
Munchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +34mins 58.5secs
# assumes will re-start under SupeRally on day 2
SWRC standings after Stage 8 (Top 3):
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Ford Fiesta S2000 1hour 29mins 05.7secs
2. Ott Tanak
Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 24.2secs
3. Martin Prokop
Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 50.6secs
SS1. Ken Block
Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Electrical problem
SS2. Federico Villagra
Munchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Lost a wheel
SS7. Matthew Wilson
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped in stage
SS8. Ken Block
Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped in stage
* denotes re-started under SupeRally.
all times unofficial