World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier holds a commanding Rally Mexico lead after his nearest challenger Jari-Matti Latvala hit trouble on Saturday morning.
The double champion opened the leg with a narrow victory on Ibarrilla over Volkswagen teammate Latvala, but his 13.5-second lead morphed into an advantage of almost one minute by the end of the next stage.
As the Frenchman charged to a second straight stage win Latvala dropped out of contention by breaking his Polo R WRC’s suspension halfway through the 26-mile route when he clipped a bank, tearing off his left-rear wheel. That brought the Finn’s day to an early end, with Volkswagen assessing the damage to see if he will return under Rally 2 rules on Sunday.
The German marque still has hope of a one-two finish, though Citroen’s Mads Ostberg is the current buffer between Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen.
Ostberg inherited second, 50sec behind Ogier, when Latvala hit trouble but suffered his own delay on the televised El Brinco stage, losing 17s and bringing Mikkelsen to within 10s of the runner-up spot.
Further back, Elfyn Evans is on course to equal his best WRC finish in fourth, though Hyundai’s Dani Sordo is less than 20s behind the M-Sport Ford Fiesta after breaking Ogier’s monopoly with victory on El Brinco.
Yuriy Protasov, who leads the WRC2 category in an R5 Fiesta, runs seventh overall thanks to the attrition rate, and has a healthy class lead after Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah spun on the morning’s penultimate stage.
Of the Rally 2 returnees, 13th-placed Thierry Neuville is closest to the final points-paying positions, currently occupied by Jari Ketomaa and Nicolas Fuchs, but is still eight minutes behind.
Fellow returnee Robert Kubica took a stage win with the fastest time on the loop-ending, one-mile Leon street stage.
Friday’s biggest story was Ott Tanak’s shocking crash into a lake and the spectacular repair job performed by M-Sport to get his Fiesta out of service this morning, though the Estonian’s return has been put back to Sunday after further issues prevented him from actually starting SS11.
LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS14:
|1||Sebastien Ogier||Volkswagen Motorsport||Volkswagen||–|
|2||Mads Ostberg||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||1m 08.3s|
|3||Andreas Mikkelsen||Volkswagen Motorsport II||Volkswagen||1m 18.0s|
|4||Elfyn Evans||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||1m 52.5s|
|5||Daniel Sordo||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||2m 11.7s|
|6||Martin Prokop||Jipocar Czech National Team||Ford||3m 07.9s|
|7||Yuriy Protasov||Ford||7m 32.5s|
|8||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Ford||8m 10.0s|
|9||Jari Ketomaa||Drive Dmack||Ford||12m 38.7s|
|10||Nicolas Fuchs||Ford||13m 47.4s|