WRC Rally Mexico: Ogier with comfortable lead after Latvala exit

Sebastien Ogier leads Rally Mexico by over a minute following Saturday's opening four stages; Mads Ostberg is second with Andreas Mikkelsen third, just 9.7s back; Jari-Matti Latvala retired from P2 after losing a wheel in SS12...
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has completed Saturday's opening loop of Rally Mexico with a comfortable lead, after his closest rival and team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala had to retire.

Ogier began the second full-day of competition with a 13.5 second advantage and in the opening test, SS11 - the 30.27 km Ibarrilla 1 stage, the Frenchman was quickest, albeit only 0.2 seconds up on Latvala.

Ogier then went quickest again in SS12 and with Latvala forced out - after hitting a bank and losing a wheel - he was left 50.5 seconds ahead of Citroen's Mads Ostberg.

Ogier eventually ended the loop with 1 minute 8.3 seconds advantage and is seemingly on course for his third win of the season, although he insisted the “pressure is not off”.

"It is just a bit different now,” he told the official WRC site. “It is not an easy job [to manage the gap] especially without split times.

“It is important to keep in the rhythm. It is going to be very hot this afternoon, and more abrasive on the tyres. I will have to be cautious. We need to stay out of trouble. There is still a long way to go.”

Behind, Ostberg complained of front-right wheel issues in SS13 and lost over 15 seconds after spinning at the first corner, allowing Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen to close up. The two are now split by 9.7s in the scrap for 'silver'.

“It has been quite good. We had a good rhythm. I think I hit something on the long stage and that damaged my right-front suspension,” Ostberg said. “The front end was very nervous from there on. Now Andreas is close behind but I am not too worried - I will continue in the same speed.”

M-Sport's Elfyn Evans is fourth in his Fiesta RS WRC car, 34.5 seconds further adrift, and 19.2s up on Dani Sordo's Hyundai i20 WRC in P5.

“It's been quite mixed," said Evans. "Okay, it's not bad, but I just feel as though I am too hesitant in places and we've been losing more time than we would like.

"I don't think we need to change anything; we just need to concentrate on being clean because there are still a lot of people having problems out there. We just need to have a good rhythm and clear out some of these hesitant moments.”

"Not bad,” added Sordo, “but I am sure we have benefited from our road position. Now our gearbox is broken [too], and we need to swap it in service. The problem is the replacement gearbox has a problem as well...”

Ford privateer Martin Prokop rounds out the top six and then along way back – over 4 minutes – is WRC2 runners Yuriy Protasov, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Jari Ketomaa and Nicolas Fuchs in positions 7 through to 10. Protasov's heads WRC2 by 37.5 seconds, gaining almost 20 seconds in SS13 when Al-Attiyah spun.

Of the rest, Thierry Neuville, Kris Meeke, Robert Kubica, Hayden Paddon, Bentio Guerra Jr and Lorenzo Bertelli all re-started this morning under Rally 2 after their exits on Friday. Ott Tanak also re-joined, but was unable to make it to the start of SS11, while Bertelli stopped again in SS12, the same test that claimed Latvala.

Rally Mexico now continues this afternoon with four more stages on the bill.

SS15, the 30.27km Ibarrilla 2 test, is due to start at 15.09 hours local time [21.09 hours UK time]. Full itinerary for event available - HERE.

2015 Rally Mexico: Overall standings after Stage 14 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2h 38m 36.9s M
2. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +1m 08.3s M
3. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +1m 18.0s M
4. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 52.5s M
5. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +2m 11.7s M
6. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 07.9s M
7. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +7m 32.5s WRC2
8. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +8m 10.0s WRC2
9. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +12m 38.7s WRC2
10. Nicolas Fuchs Ford Fiesta R5 +13m 47.4s WRC2


11. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC +14m 48.4s WRC2
12. Simone Tempestini Subaru Impreza STi +20m 06.6s WRC2
15. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +21m 56.1s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 14 (Top 3):

1. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC 2h 46m 09.4s WRC2
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +0m 37.5s WRC2
3. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +5m 06.2s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS3. Ott Tanak M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off M*
SS4. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC Went off M*
SS4. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC Suspension damage M*
SS4. Robert Kubica RK WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped M*
SS8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Rolled M*
SS8. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped M*
SS8/9. Benito Guerra Jr. Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped*

SS11. Ott Tanak M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Retired before test M
SS12. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped M
SS12. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Lost a wheel M

*denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Saturday

M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial
by Rob Wilkins

Related Pictures

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Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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