Sébastien Ogier has a 14.8 second lead over Elfyn Evans after several drives at the top of the standings retired throughout a dramatic Friday of action on Rally Mexico.
Ogier won four of the eight stages on the second day of the event on his way to the overall lead in the Citroen Total Racing C3 WRC as he made the most of the retirements of drivers around him.
At the midway service halt at Friday lunchtime it was Andreas Mikkelsen who led the Mexican event, but the Norwegian retired on SS5 after hitting a stone and damaging the suspension on the Hyundai Shell Mobis i20 Coupe.
With the defending champion now in the lead, it looked as if Hyundai teammate Dani Sordo was to continue the battle at the top, but the retuning Spaniard also was forced to withdraw from the action on Friday with a suspected electrical problem on the very next stage.
This then promoted Evans into second, with Kris Meeke in the leading Toyota GAZOO Racing Yaris WRC just 6.3 seconds further behind in third at the end of Friday.
Ott Tänak is fourth going into Saturday after struggling for pace due after being the first car on the road, although the Estonian will have the benefit of several cars running before him as Saturday’s action gets underway.
Esapekka Lappi was another man to struggle for speed on Friday, with the Citroen driver also spinning that cost him yet more dropped time while Thierry Neuville, who was unwell, struggled in sixth, with his feeling made worse thanks to a puncture on the opening stage of the day.
Jari-Matti Latvala had been running in fourth, but he was another driver who retired after the alternator on the Yaris WRC failed – he’d been suffering from the issue throughout several of the stages across Friday.
Teemu Suninen had a disaster of a start to the Mexican event, after the M-Sport driver hit a rock on the first stage on Friday morning that ripped off his front right corner with the damage being so severe he has been retired from the remainder of the event.
Marco Bulacia leads WRC2 in seventh overall ahead of Benito Guerra and Alberto Heller with Ricardo Trivino rounding out the top 10. WRC2 PRO’s Łukasz Pieniążek retired from the day on stage six with steering rack damage.
Saturday on Rally Mexico sees a further nine stages totalling almost 140km of stage miles.