Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen leads Rally Mexico following the opening loop this morning, albeit only 0.6 seconds up on his team-mate, Sebastien Loeb.
Hirvonen, who was fourth quickest in the Guanajuato Street Stage last night, took over at the head of the times in the very first test today, when he posted the quickest time in El Cubilete [SS2], 0.8 seconds up on Jari-Matt Latvala. He then slipped behind his former Ford team-mate in SS3 though, and was 2.2 seconds back after SS4.
However in the next test, Latvala hit rock and broke his front suspension. As a result Hirvonen re-took the lead and headed into the mid-day halt fractionally ahead of the other works DS3 WRC of Loeb: "It was okay for us this morning we had no problems with the car or tyres so won't make many changes," Hirvonen said.
Loeb meanwhile also enjoyed a good morning and finished with a flourish having set the pace in both SS4 and SS5: "The stages are changing all the time," Loeb remarked, "so getting a rhythm is difficult. I'm pretty happy with the car though."
While Citroen could be happy with the morning loop, the same could not be said for Ford and both works Fiesta's had problems.
Petter Solberg, who set the pace in the qualifying stage and who had led overnight, was the first in the doldrums when he picked up a puncture in SS2 and lost more than 50 seconds. His woe was further compounded by another puncture in SS3 and he ended the loop down in seventh, almost 1.5 minutes off the lead.
"It was a frustrating morning," Solberg stated. "I was trying really hard. On the first stage I had a small touch on the left rear [and then got a puncture]. On the stage after I went flat out – my fault [and got another puncture]. On the last two I was on three tyres, the fourth tyre had nothing on."
With Solberg in trouble, Latvala took over and was quickest in SS3 to seize top spot. In Ortega 1 though, he also had problems as already outlined. Consequently he slipped down to eighth, 6 seconds behind Petter.
All that has left Mads Ostberg as the lead Ford in third - albeit almost 40 seconds off the two Citroens ahead: "It has been a good morning," Ostberg said. "It was very difficult to find the rhythm but I'm very happy with how we have done. We have done a good job inside the car and now we have to focus on the cars around us."