Rally Mexico Day 1: Hanninen leads after Mexico City stages

Toyota’s Juho Hanninen is the overnight leader after day 1 of Rally Guanajuato Mexico after the two runs through the iconic Zocalo Plaza in Mexico City.

Hanninen was quickest by 0.3 seconds from Citroen’s Kris Meeke on the first run through before recording a fifth fastest time in the second.

Still this was enough for him to hold a 1.6 second overnight lead over joint second place holders Meeke and M-Sport’s Ott Tanak.

The Estonian was second quickest on SS1, 0.1 behind team-mate Sébastien Ogier, jumping up from fifth place to tie with Meeke.

Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala blasts through the iconic Zocalo Plaza in the heart of Mexico City on his way to eighth overall. Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool.

The two 1.57km runs around the iconic Zocalo Plaza in the heart of the capital Mexico City featured ramps, 360 degree spins and a damp surface provided plenty of entertainment for the estimated 100,000 spectators despite it being a rainy night.

The stage became drier in the second run-through as the fastest time was seven seconds faster first time round.

The damp surface certainly helped Pontus Tidemand’s WRC2 Skoda Fabia R5 as the Swede set the fourth quickest overall time, just 2.4 seconds slower than Hanninen.

He had dropped to ninth by the second run, but in just 3.14km he had established a 12.7 second gap over his nearest challenger, local Skoda driver Benito Guerra Jr with M-Sport’s Éric Camilli in third, just a second behind.

The fastest men in Shakedown, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, ended the day in fourth spot, recording seventh and third fastest times, just 2.6 seconds off the lead.

Team DMACK driver Elfyn Evans would have held the fourth spot, but received a five minute penalty on his first run after changing his expiring engine after Shakedown.

Ogier had a poor first run, tenth fastest 5.3 seconds down but won the second stage to end the night in sixth place, four seconds behind Hanninen.

All the competitors were relieved to end the stages without any major problems and will now have to travel 250 miles back to the rally’s base in Leon to start the rally proper.