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 OgierVolkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC2hour 40m 49.7s M
2. Jari-Matti LatvalaVolkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC+00m 49.0s M
3. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +03m 51.6s M
4. Elfyn EvansM-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC+04m 02.7s M
5. Martin ProkopJipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 55.4s M
6. Benito GuerraM-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07m 51.8s
7. Chris AtkinsonHyundai Motorsport i20 WRC+09m 29.5s M
8. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +13m 01.5s WRC2
9. Mikko HirvonenM-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC+15m 48.8s M*
10. Kris MeekeCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +16m 42.0s M*

Others

11. Massimiliano RendinaMitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 +29m 20.1s WRC 2
12. Rodrigo SalgadoFord 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 RendinaMitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 +15m 55.7s WRC 2
3. Gianluca LinariSubaru Impreza STi N15+19m 54.7s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS3. Andreas MikkelsenVolkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRCWent off M*
SS3. Ott TanakDrive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5Went off WRC 2
SS3. Quentin GilbertFord Fiesta R5Retired WRC 2
SS3. Nicolas FuchsFord Fiesta RRCSuspension WRC 2
SS3. Augusto BestardMitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2Retired WRC 2
SS8. Mikko HirvonenM-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCElectrical M*
SS8. Kris MeekeCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Suspension M*
SS10. Robert KubicaRK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCRolled M*

SS12. Lorenzo BertelliFord Fiesta R5Retired WRC2
SS12/13. Mads OstbergCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Suspension damage - hit a bank
SS13. Andreas MikkelsenVolkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRCRolled M
SS13. Robert KubicaRK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCRolled M

* denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Saturday.

all times unofficial

 

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