Sébastien Ogier increased his lead at the top of the Rally Mexico standings to 27 seconds after Saturday’s action despite a late scare on Saturday evening.
The day started in dramatic fashion as Ogier’s teammate Esapekka Lappi blocked the opening stage of the day, just half a mile from the finish line, forcing the rally organisers to throw a red flag and cancel the remainder of the stage.
Both Elfyn Evans and Kris Meeke had already squeezed past the stranded C3 WRC of Lappi meaning they were able to finish the stage but Ogier, who had also picked up a puncture, was given a national time, albeit 22.4 seconds slower than Toyota driver Meeke due to his damaged tyre being deemed to have dropped him more time.
After taking the lead by 1.3 seconds, the Irishman’s joy was short lived as on the next Otates stage, he suffered a puncture that cost him over 90 seconds in lost time, with suspension damage then further costing him yet more time on stage 12 as he struggled through the 8km El Brinco stage.
With Meeke out of the running, Ogier regained his lead by midday service on Saturday and continued to build his lead, despite hitting a barrier on stage 16 where he lost 6 seconds to second placed Evans.
The M-Sport Ford driver has just a 2.2 second gap to third placed Ott Tänak, with the championship leader winning a pair of stages to help him gain over 20 seconds on the Welshman across Saturday’s nine stages.
Fourth and over a minute behind leader Ogier is Thierry Neuville, with the Belgian driver having a relatively quiet day as he continued to try and get more speed out of the Hyundai Shell Mobis i20 Coupe. He’s is over three minutes ahead of Meeke, who is fifth overall going into Sunday.
Local driver Benito Guerra leads WRC2 in sixth overall, while Marco Bulacia sits ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala who chose to take a time penalty on Saturday letting him run later in the road order with the tactic seemingly working as he won two stages.
The top 10 overall with three stages remaining is completed by Ricardo Trivino and Dani Sordo.
Rally Mexico concludes with Sunday’s final three stages, including the rally ending Wolf Power Stage on Sunday afternoon.