29 Feb 08
Jari-Matti Latvala holds the lead of Rally Mexico after Friday’s morning loop of three stages.
The 22-year-old Finn took the lead on the first stage and after SS3 returned to the service area in Leon 4.4 seconds ahead of Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb who is second. Chris Atkinson of the Subaru World Rally Team is third, 11.2 seconds behind Latvala.
Latvala became the youngest driver in history to win a WRC round when he won the most recent WRC rally in Sweden, on only his second outing with the team. “It’s going okay actually,” he said at the end of SS3. “There have been a couple of moments when I’ve lost my rhythm, but apart from that I’m enjoying myself. It’s a difficult rally though and I’m being very careful, there are a lot of rocks by the side of the road here.”
Latvala’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonen is fourth and is looking forward to the afternoon’s repeated loop, when he will not be disadvantaged by a start position that puts him through the loose gravel stages first.
Gigi Galli of the Stobart Ford team dropped from fourth to ninth place on SS3 when his car slid off the road and stopped with the rear wheels in a ditch. It took Galli about 90 seconds to get the car moving again.