Jari-Matti Latvala pulled clear of Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier on Saturday’s Rally Mexico morning loop after a commanding performance in his Polo R WRC.
As he had done a day earlier, Latvala made use of his place further down the running order to stretch his advantage through the day’s two longest stages, Ibarrilla and Otates. The Finn now holds a lead of 1m16.3s over Ogier, having set the fastest time on all three of the morning’s stages.
Ogier was never better than third-quickest on any of the stages as he ran first on the dusty road, but another solid performance consolidated the Frenchman’s second place overall.
The closest battle is now the fight for third between Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen. Sordo had complained about his rhythm on the morning’s opening stage, but looked as though he had recaptured some confidence through the splits on SS12, Otates. But the Spaniard then spun in his Hyundai i20 WRC between the final split and the stage end, costing him 11s to Mikkelsen.
With the latter marginally quicker again on SS13, the pair are now split by 14.9s, although it is Sordo still holding the final podium position.
Hayden Paddon looked as though he might join that battle with the third-fastest time on SS11, but a stage later he smacked a wall early on Otates, which cost him over two minutes to Latvala’s benchmark. The Kiwi was able to continue onto the final stage of the loop, El Brinco, where he recorded the fourth-fastest time, but he has once again fallen behind the M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC of Mads Ostberg to sixth overall.
Ott Tanak remains seventh in his DMACK Fiesta, ahead of fellow privateers Martin Prokop and Lorenzo Bertelli.
After rejoining under Rally 2 rules, Thierry Neuville crashed on SS12. The Belgian showed good pace in his Hyundai i20 WRC on the opening stage of the morning and through the splits before an accident in the final couple of miles of the stage.
Hyundai reported Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were OK, but that the World Rally Championship medical crew had been sent to the scene as a precaution.
LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS13:
|1||Jari-Matti Latvala||Volkswagen Motorsport||Volkswagen||2h39m22.1s|
|2||Sebastien Ogier||Volkswagen Motorsport||Volkswagen||1m16.3s|
|3||Dani Sordo||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||2m09.0s|
|4||Andreas Mikkelsen||Volkswagen Motorsport II||Volkswagen||2m23.9s|
|5||Mads Ostberg||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||3m49.8s|
|6||Hayden Paddon||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai||5m02.7s|
|7||Ott Tanak||DMACK World Rally Team||Ford||6m00.6s|
|8||Martin Prokop||Jipocar Czech National Team||Ford||7m21.7s|
|9||Lorenzo Bertelli||FWRT s.r.l.||Ford||7m54.2s|
|10||Teemu Suninen||TGS Worldwide Ou||Skoda||9m30.4s|