8 March 2014
Rally Mexico: Ogier pulls away, Ostberg and Kubica retire
Sebastien Ogier won both tests this morning to extend his overnight lead on Rally Mexico, while Mads Ostberg, Robert Kubica and Andreas Mikkelsen all retired.
Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier has romped away this morning on Rally Mexico almost doubling his overnight lead.
Ogier began the second day with a 26.1 second advantage and immediately increased that in the opening test, the 30.33 kilometre-run through Ibarrilla, when he was quickest, 4.5 seconds up on team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala. The Frenchman then set the pace again in the monster 53.69 kilometre Otates test and with closest overnight rival, Mads Ostberg, hitting trouble and having to retire after making contact with a bank in SS12, he heads back to service in Leon with a comfortable cushion. Indeed he is now 49 seconds up on Latvala, who moves up to P2 after Ostberg's demise.
“That [SS13] was a really long run - but still it was fine for us,” Ogier remarked following Otates. “We did try to push. We a just control it now! I try to drive cleanly. You have to prepare your mind for the long stage.”
Latvala meanwhile is pessimistic about his chances of challenging for the win: “We need a miracle to catch Ogier when we are 40 seconds behind and he is running behind me,” stated the Finn. “I am doing what I can, but I cannot do any more, I cannot push any harder. We have already seen on this rally what happens when you push too hard. The road feels nice, but there are still a lot of surprises.”
Behind, Thierry Neuville is third and poised to give the new Hyundai team its very first WRC podium: “It's getting better,” said the Belgian, “but we are losing some traction and have plenty to modify. However you cannot do it all in one weekend.”
“We could do with more torque, more punch from the engine,” he added. “The chassis is good but we need to look at the damper settings [too].”
Further back, M-Sport man and Crash.net columnist Elfyn Evans holds a very encouraging fourth, just 11.1 seconds off P3: “It was certainly tough out there this morning. There was no margin for error, especially in the middle part of the long stage [SS13] which was very twisty and narrow. It's so easy to make a small mistake in there which can have big consequences. It's all about finding a good balance and the right rhythm," Evans said.
“It's a bit of a strange feeling to find ourselves fighting for the podium, but to be honest we're not taking too much notice of it. It is important that we focus on the job that we came here to do which is to get as much experience as possible and learn as much as we can.
“I don't want to get drawn into any big risks to try and beat Thierry – that's not what we want to do. But at the same time, it would be nice to beat him and in some circumstances a bit of a battle can only help the learning curve!”
Martin Prokop completes the top five in his privately entered Fiesta RS WRC, albeit almost 2 minutes further adrift, followed by local ace, Bentio Guerra and the Hyundai i20 WRC of Chris Atkinson.
Of the rest, runaway WRC2 class leader Yuriy Protasov is eighth, while Rally 2 runners, Mikko Hirvonen and Kris Meeke round out the top ten, the latter completing SS13 with a broken windscreen: “We caught some branches. To be honest, I had no rhythm at all and no feeling on the grip, so I backed right off,” explained the Brit.
Former F1 man Robert Kubica and VW Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen also re-joined the fold today under the Rally 2 regulations - like Hirvonen and Meeke. However, both Mikkelsen and Kubica went out in SS13. Mikkelsen rolled his Polo R WRC about 10 kilometres in, while Kubica also rolled, but some 20 kilometres further on. It is not yet known if they will re-start on Sunday. Ostberg, however, will rejoin, with Citroen having confirmed as much via Twitter.
The action now continues after lunch with a repeat-run through this morning's two stages - although the Otates test is only run in part. Competitors then tackle the 8.25 km El Brinco 1 test (SS16 - which will be repeated as the Power Stage on Sunday), before heading back to the 2.21 km Super Special Stage. Like on Friday, the short SSS will be run twice to conclude the day's proceedings.
Rally Mexico: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2hour 40m 49.7s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 49.0s M
3. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +03m 51.6s M
4. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 02.7s M
5. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 55.4s M
6. Benito Guerra M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07m 51.8s
7. Chris Atkinson Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +09m 29.5s M
8. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +13m 01.5s WRC2
9. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +15m 48.8s M*
10. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +16m 42.0s M*
11. Massimiliano Rendina Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 +29m 20.1s WRC 2
12. Rodrigo Salgado Ford Fiesta R5 +29m 43.1s
WRC2 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 2hours 53m 51.2s WRC2
2. Massimiliano Rendina Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 +15m 55.7s WRC 2
3. Gianluca Linari Subaru Impreza STi N15 +19m 54.7s WRC2
SS3. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Went off M*
SS3. Ott Tanak Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 Went off WRC 2
SS3. Quentin Gilbert Ford Fiesta R5 Retired WRC 2
SS3. Nicolas Fuchs Ford Fiesta RRC Suspension WRC 2
SS3. Augusto Bestard Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 Retired WRC 2
SS8. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Electrical M*
SS8. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Suspension M*
SS10. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Rolled M*
SS12. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta R5 Retired WRC2
SS12/13. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Suspension damage – hit a bank
SS13. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Rolled M
SS13. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Rolled M
* denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Saturday.
all times unofficial
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