Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has moved back into the lead this morning on Rally Mexico and has now built up a 19.7 second cushion heading into the 30-minute mid-day service at Leon.
Loeb, who finished Friday 2.3 seconds adrift of his team-mate, Sebastien Ogier, took advantage of being second on the road to set the pace in SS11, the 29.90 km-run through Ibarrilla 1, which kicked off the second leg. The WRC record man then took more than 15 seconds out of Ogier in SS12 and pulled out a few more precision seconds in SS13 and SS14. It remains to be seen though if he will continue to push this afternoon, or if he will ease off and allow Ogier back in front to ensure he doesn't have to play the road sweeper on the final day.
“It has been a hard battle,” Loeb said in service E. “I wanted to make a gap but he [Ogier] has been going quite well. I have no idea about team orders.”
Ogier for his part has tried to minimise the disadvantage of having to run first in the order and has done pretty well all things considered, setting the third fastest time in SS11, before going fifth in SS12, fourth in SS13 and second in SS14.
“It was okay,” Ogier noted after Derramadero 1. “I had a good drive on this one [SS13]. It is never easy to be first on the road. Now I have to wait. We do what we can. The last one [SS12] was so twisty and that is why I lost more time.”
Meanwhile, Ford Abu Dhabi WRT man Mikko Hirvonen has been unable to make up any ground and remains almost 1.5 minutes back in his Fiesta RS WRC: “I am a little surprised,” Hirvonen conceded. “I don't know why we cannot push any harder. It is tricky. We try to do something with the car now, but we need to be careful and avoid any punctures.”
Jari-Matti Latvala hasn't made any progress either in the sister factory Fiesta RS WRC, and remains one place lower on the leaderboard, with another puncture near the end of SS11 hampering his charge. He also complained of a gear lever issue in SS12 and SS13.
“It has been fine for Jari-Matti and Mikko,” said Ford Abu Dhabi team boss, Malcolm Wilson. “I think the sensible approach is to keep the result we have got at the moment.
"There have been various things with the other [Fiesta RS WRC] cars. We have seen a lot of encouraging things again today though. We know areas where we can and need to improve.”