BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala was unable to hold onto the lead in Mexico on day two of the event.

Latvala, who claimed his maiden victory in Sweden last month, had the dubious privilege of being first in the start order on Saturday.

It meant the 22-year-old had to cope all morning with the same slippery loose stones on the road surface that hampered his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in the same position on Friday. As a result he saw his 9.6 second lead cut to just one tenth of a second on the opening test and while he got to grips with the conditions better in SS10 and SS11, he still slipped to second, 5.8 seconds behind Sebastien Loeb.

In the afternoon he lost more time in SS12, before a broken turbo pipe cost him over two minutes and dropped him to third.

"About 1km after the start of SS13 the car suddenly lost power, with no warning. The pipe between the intercooler and the turbo came loose and I had some power, but not full boost," Jari explained.

"We wrapped some aluminium tape around it before the next stage but it didn't help. I couldn't fight with Loeb for the lead this afternoon and I wanted to do that. It was bad luck but it's not my time yet to win this rally. I'm still third though and tomorrow I will drive to save my podium."

Asked about the conditions in the morning, the Finn confirmed that he found it tough being first in the order, especially in Ibarrilla 1.

"The first stage this morning was slippery and I couldn't find the right way to drive. I understand how difficult it was for Mikko yesterday now," he added.

"I was cleaning the corners and that's the difference between first in the start order and second, where I was yesterday. There were many different grip levels on the loose stones and it was hard for braking. In the third stage I did everything I could, and maybe too much, because I had a close escape after a crest when the car was totally off the road."

Hirvonen also had a difficult day and lost a place on the leaderboard in the afternoon - going from P4 to P5 - when he had a double puncture in SS12 after hitting a rock.

"Early in the stage, there was a big rock on the inside of a fast right bend. I couldn't avoid it and hit it with both right wheels," Mikko recalled.

"I immediately knew the front tyre was punctured and stopped to change it but didn't notice the rear puncture. It was only after a couple of kilometres more that the rear tyre started to slowly lose pressure. I had to be really careful in left corners and actually slid off the road at one point. Now my aim is to catch Henning [Solberg] for fourth tomorrow."



Loading Comments...