Sébastien Ogier leads Rally Mexico following a strong first full day of competition for the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team. A trouble-free day for the three Toyota Yaris WRC drivers on the demanding gravel stages was completed with Elfyn Evans in third and Kalle Rovanperä fifth.
Following two short street stages in Guanajuato on Thursday night, Ogier – targeting his sixth Rally Mexico victory – moved up into second position on the opening gravel test, El Chocolate. He then claimed the lead with the fastest time in SS4 Ortega. A consistent day thereafter, as well as two further stage wins on the Autodromo super special, increased his and co-driver Julien Ingrassia’s advantage to 13.2 seconds.
As championship leader for the first time in his career, Evans was faced with the challenge of running first on the road and sweeping the loose gravel for those behind. Seventh after the morning’s first stage, he climbed to third by the end of the day, taking the place by 0.2s in the León street stage.
All three cars ran reliably throughout the day in the tough conditions posed by the altitude and high temperatures. The team’s rookie driver Rovanperä suffered a damaged tyre in SS3 and took a cautious approach to complete the morning loop, but showed impressive progress in the afternoon, winning the León street test and finishing the day in fifth overall.
Quotes: Kaj Lindström (Sporting Director) : « It’s been a trouble-free day for us, which is a very pleasant situation to have in this rally. All three of our drivers are doing a very good job again. Seb had a great day with no drama, he’s been clean and that’s been key. Elfyn has done really well too, because it’s not easy to run first on the road here and he is still very much in the fight. Kalle continues to surprise me and everyone else as well: he’s getting used to everything very quickly and it’s just great to see. I hope we can keep going this way tomorrow. »
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17) : « It’s been a good day, I’m very pleased to be in the lead tonight. This morning the times were not bad but the confidence was not at the maximum. I was still trying to get comfortable, but I made some adjustments to the setup and having some more miles in the car on this surface helped me to feel much better in the afternoon. Tomorrow will be another long day. We will have the best starting position, so we have to try to make the most out of it. »
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33) : « It’s been a pretty difficult day opening the road, as we knew it would be. But overall, it’s not been bad. The car was working generally very well. Both El Chocolate stages were the challenging stages to find a good feeling, but that was probably down to the road condition as the surface was very loose. In other places it went better than expected. We’ll just keep pushing as hard as we can and see what’s possible. »
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69) : « It was getting better all the time today and I’m building the confidence up. It’s nice to see that I’m learning the car quite quickly. There is still some work to do, but it was a nice day. I don’t know where I got the slow puncture on the first stage this morning, but it can happen. After that I was a bit more cautious for the rest of the morning loop because we didn’t have any spare tyres, but on the second loop I tried to be a bit cleaner and faster and it went well. »
End of day two (Friday): 1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1h23m09.2s 2 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13.2s 3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +33.2s 4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +33.4s 5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.7s 6 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m16.8s 7 Pontus Tidemand/Patrik Barth (Škoda Fabia R5) +4m16.7s 8 Nikolay Gryazin/Yaroslav Fedorov (Hyundai i20 R5) +5m07.8s 9 Marco Bulacia/Giovanni Bernacchini (Citroën C3 R5) +5m54.3s 10 Emilio Fernández/Ruben Garcia (Škoda Fabia R5) +8m39.8s (Results as of 21:30 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
What’s next? Saturday features another loop of three stages run twice in the mountains around León: Guanajuatito, Alfaro and Derramadero. The day ends with another two runs of the Autodromo stage, plus a different street stage adjacent to the service park.
Press release Toyota Gazoo Racing]]>