Thierry Neuville dominated the Rally Guanajuato Mexico Shakedown, setting the fastest time with a near two seconds gap over the competition.
The Hyundai driver set a 3 minutes 45.8 second time on his third and final run through the muddy 5.31km Llano Grande test. Sébastien Ogier‘s M-Sport Fiesta WRC was second quickest, 1.7 seconds behind the Belgian.
Kris Meeke, in the Citroen C3 WRC, was third just half a second behind Ogier while Jari-Matti Latvala’s Toyota made it four different manufacturers in the top four places.
After crashing out of the lead in the first two events of the year, Neuville denied feeling under pressure and was in a confident mood as he dominated the short test.
He was three seconds faster than his Hyundai team-mates Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo who were just separated by just 0.1 seconds in fifth and sixth places.
Behind them came the two remaining works M-Sport Fiestas of Elfyn Evans and Ott Tanak, with Citroen Stéphane Lefebvre and Toyota’s Juho Hänninen rounding out the top ten.
However, Evans received a five minute penalty due to an engine change after the Shakedown. The penalty will be applied to his first stage time.
In WRC2, M-Sport’s Éric Camilli showed his improved gravel pace by setting the fastest time by 0.6 seconds from local hero Benito Guerra Jr’s Skoda.
Camilli was 1.8 seconds from his expected challenger for WRC2 honours on the event, the Works Skoda of Pontus Tidemand, who was fourth fastest, just behind the similar machine of Hubert Ptaszek.
The cars now head to the Mexico City for the first two stages set in the iconic Zocalo Plaza.
Follow the Checkered Flag for all the coverage of Rally Mexico this coming weekend.