Once again it is the Toyota Gazoo Racing team who is topping the standings after the first full-day as the newcomer to the team and five-time Rally Mexico winner Sébastien Ogier leads the rally with 13.2 seconds over M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen. A great start for the team on the first gravel round of the year.
The day was trouble free for all the three Toyota drivers and after Ogier is now hunting down his sixth win at the rally, after the opening-stage in the morning he was second but already on the second stage he moved himself up to top spot and has remained there for the day.
“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.” Ogier said.
Elfyn Evans is for first time the championship leader and that meant he was first out on the stages during the day and he was faced the challenge to be first out on the tricky roads. With a bad start on the morning loop made him to settle for seventh but as the afternoon came, he was climbing up back to third.
“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.” Evans said.
Kalle Rovanperä is on his first gravel rally with a WRC car, on the opening-stage he suffered a damaged tyre and took a cautious approach to finish the remaining stages. As always he impresses all when he took his second-ever stage win at the Léon street test and finished the first full-day in fifth overall.
“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.” Rovanperä said.
“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.” Kaj Lindström, Sporting Director, said.
“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.”