Citroen's Sebastien Ogier was handed the lead on Rally Mexico this afternoon after his team-mate, Sebastien Loeb picked up a 50-second penalty.

Ogier began the repeat loop 19.7 seconds down, but immediately saw that deficit annulled when Loeb had a gearbox problem before the start of SS15 and was 5 minutes late into the test [see separate story - click here]. Although Ogier was slower in Ibarrilla 2 and Duarte 2, he was fractionally quicker in SS17 and finishes the loop with an 11.3 second cushion, despite complaining about an engine problem towards the end of SS16.

"We will see. The problem I had on the last test has gone. I had no power for the last three or four kilometres of Duarte 2. It seems to be okay now though," Ogier remarked.

"We had some trouble before [SS15] and lost 50 seconds to repair the gearbox," Loeb added. "That is it. Then in the middle of this stage [SS17] I stalled. Now my plan is to push."

Loeb will be well placed to fight back too, especially as Ogier will again have to run first in the order on Sunday and sweep away the loose gravel.

Meanwhile, Mikko Hirvonen remains 'best of the rest', although disappointingly he is quite far off the duel for the win, 1 minute 16.8 seconds behind: "I thought we would have a chance to fight this morning," Mikko admitted, "but it is okay. I need to carry on working and get as many points as I can from here. If I have no problems then I want to keep my position."

Away from the top three, Hirvonen's Ford Abu Dhabi team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala is fourth, and he was encouraged after setting his first stage win of the event in SS17, breaking the Citroen stranglehold and giving the 'Blue Oval' its first scratch time of the weekend.

Petter Solberg completes the top five, although it wasn't an easy afternoon for the Norwegian. He was late starting SS17 after he couldn't get his car to start and he also had a 'big moment' over a jump. Further back, Mads Ostberg comes in sixth, with Henning Solberg now having dropped to seventh. Henning had more power steering problems this afternoon and in the end was just glad to complete the three stages.

Of the rest, Nasser Al-Attiyah remains on course for eighth - and the SWRC class win, ahead of Martin Prokop and Juho Hanninen.

In terms of retirees, Ken Block was the biggest scalp on the second loop, when he lost a wheel in SS16. It is not yet known if he will be able to SupeRally. Block joins Evgeny Novikov, Matt Wilson and Dennis Kuipers on the sidelines. Novikov had to pull out after SS12 - due to an oil leak, he had been running fifth - while Kuipers crashed in the first test of the day and definitely won't be able to rejoin the fold on Sunday. Wilson also won't be able to SupeRally, electrical problems ending his event prematurely.

The second leg of Rally Mexico now concludes with another two runs through the 2.21 km Super Special. SS18 is due to start at 19.43 hours local time [01.43 hours British time].

Rally Mexico: Overall standings after Stage 17 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien OgierCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC3hours 09mins 36.4secs M
2. Sebastien LoebCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC+00mins 11.3secs M
3. Mikko HirvonenFord Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC+01mins 28.1secs M
4. Jari-Matti LatvalaFord Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC+02mins 41.4secs M
5. Petter SolbergPSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC+06mins 51.3secs M
6. Mads OstbergM-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08mins 05.7secs M
7. Henning SolbergM-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08mins 38.6secs M
8. Nasser Al-AttiyahFord Fiesta S2000+10mins 43.5secs S
9. Martin ProkopFord Fiesta S2000+11mins 20.3secs S
10. Juho HanninenSkoda Fabia S2000+11mins 51.5secs S

SWRC standings after Stage 17 (Top 3):

1. Nasser Al-AttiyahFord Fiesta S20003hours 20mins 19.9secs S
2. Martin ProkopFord Fiesta S2000+00mins 36.8secs S
3. Juho HanninenSkoda Fabia S2000+01mins 08.0secs S

Notable retirements:

SS1. Ken BlockMonster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCElectrical problem*

SS2. Federico VillagraMunchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRCLost a wheel M*
SS7. Matthew WilsonM-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRCElectrical problem A1*
SS8. Ken BlockMonster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCElectrical problem*

SS10/SS11. Matthew Wilson M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical A1
SS11. Denis KuipersFERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS WRCCrashed M
SS11. Ott TanakFord Fiesta S2000Crashed S
SS12/13. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRCOil leak A1
SS16. Ken BlockMonster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCLost a wheel

* denotes re-started under SupeRally.

all times unofficial



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