10 March 2012
Loeb pulls further ahead, Latvala back up to third
Sebastien Loeb now heads Mikko Hirvonen by 28.7 seconds following SS16; Jari-Matti Latvala slipped to fourth in SS15 with a puncture, but re-takes third spot after going quickest in Otates 2...
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has consolidated his advantage on Rally Mexico following the middle loop today.
Loeb began day two 11.2 seconds up on his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen and he increased that to 18.2 seconds this morning. He then gained further ground on the repeat runs through Ibarrilla and Otates, setting the pace in SS15 and going second quickest in SS16. Consequently he now heads back to Leon for service with his overnight cushion almost tripled.
“That was okay,” he remarked following Otates 2. “Good drive, no mistakes. There were a lot of big stones near the end so I took it a little bit easy.”
Latvala meanwhile lost third place in SS15, when he picked up a puncture. The incident happened early in the test when he hit a rock and knocked the wheel off. The tyre started to deflate as a result he lost 50 seconds, slipping to fourth. The Finn bounced back though in SS16, taking another stage win, and with it regaining third:
“It was good. It is hard for the tyres and the car though. The engine temperature was going a bit too high sometimes,” he revealed.
Asked about what happened in SS15, Latvala added: “It was in a left corner and maybe I took a different line to this morning. I hit the rock hard and I immediately felt the wheel bend. It started to touch the suspension upright and the tyre delaminated. It proves what a great job Michelin has done with its tyres that I drove 25km with the rubber in that condition and only lost 50sec. Now the goal is to hold onto third.”
Behind, Petter Solberg trails his team-mate by just over 12 seconds and the Norwegian is a similar amount up on Mads Ostberg in fifth.
“Considering my start position compared to those around me, I'm pleased with my times,” said Solberg. “The car still feels great but conditions were hard in the high temperatures. I drove at a pace at which I felt comfortable and I won't do anything crazy because there are many rocks around waiting to catch us out.”
Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov remain sixth and seventh, the former, like Latvala, losing time in SS15 with a puncture.
Further back, Nasser Al-Attiyah now holds eighth, ahead of Chris Atkinson, who somewhat bizarrely crashed out after he had passed the flying finish for SS16. His day is now over and it has still to be confirmed if he will re-start on Sunday under the Rally 2 rules.
Armindo Araujo will thus move up to ninth and Sebastian Ogier will be promoted to tenth, and the final points' paying position in his VW Motorsport-run Skoda Fabia S2000, with Ken Block and PWRC leader, Benito Guerra immediately behind.
Drivers now face two passes over the 17.91km Comanjilla, separated by another visit to the race circuit test on the edge of León. Comanjilla 1 is due to start at 15.30 hours local time [21.30 hours UK time].
Rally Mexico: Overall standings after Stage 16 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 3hours 01mins 10.9secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 28.7secs M
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 09.8secs M
4. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 22.1secs M
5. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 35.0secs M
6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 05.4secs M
7. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 17.6secs M
8. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +05mins 39.9secs M
9. Chris Atkinson Monster WRT Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 42.9secs
10. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +09mins 03.4secs
11. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +10mins 47.8secs
12. Ken Block Monster WRT Fiesta RS WRC +12mins 52.4secs
13. Benito Guerra Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +16mins 34.4secs P
14. Ricardo Trivino Ford Fiesta RS WRC +16mins 53.5secs
15. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +17mins 17.3secs P
16. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +18mins 13.0secs P
PWRC standings after Stage 16 - Top 3:
1. Benito Guerra Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 3hours 17mins 45.3secs P
2. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 42.9secs P
3. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +01mins 38.6secs P
DNS. Henning Solberg Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC Did not start
SS5. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Accident*
SS5/SS6. Kevin Abbring VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Mechanical*
SS6. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Lost a wheel M*
SS14. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Accident
SS16. Chris Atkinson Monster WRT Fiesta RS WRC Crashed
* re-started under Rally 2 (new name for SupeRally)
all times unofficial
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