SS1, Monster Street Stage Guanajuato (1.05 kilometres)
Tens of thousands of fans descend on the picturesque town of Guanajuato for a colourful and musical start ceremony, which leads immediately into a street test. Directly after the start, the route descends into a narrow tunnel, formerly one of the many mining shafts when the town was a major gold and silver producer. After a loop around a roundabout, the test finishes on a cobbled street lined with colonial houses.
SS2, Parque Bicentenario (2.60 kilometres)
A new stage, based in the grounds of an Expo centre built between the cities of Guanajuato, Leon and Silao to celebrate 200 years of Mexican independence. It’s a very different challenge to the rest of the rally, and takes place on the roads, walkways and cycle paths of the centre. Numerous roadside obstacles and kerbs make neat driving essential.
How the action unfolded:
Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier took a win apiece in the opening two stages, but it was Ogier who returned to Leon tonight with the rally lead.
He was fourth in Guanajuato in a Volkswagen Polo R, just 0.5sec behind the Ford Fiesta RS of Neuville. But fastest in the second stage promoted him into top spot overall, 0.3sec ahead of the Fiesta RS of Mads Ostberg.
Ostberg was second behind Neuville in Guanajuato, tied with Nasser Al-Attiyah’s similar Fiesta. Behind Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Chris Atkinson were fifth equal.
Mikko Hirvonen was second in Parque Bicentenario, just a tenth of a second behind Ogier, the Finn regaining time after almost stalling on the startline of the opening test.
Ostberg was third, with Dani Sordo, Neuville and Atkinson rounding off the top six.
Behind Ostberg in the overall standings is Neuville, only 0.6sec from the lead, with Hirvonen in fourth. Sordo and Atkinson complete the top six.
Both Atkinson and Ken Block clipped a kerb inside Guanajuato’s tunnel, Block sheepishly admitting it was the same stone he hit last year. Neither Atkinson’s Citroen DS3 nor Block’s Ford Fiesta RS were damaged. Latvala stalled at the start of the second stage.
Competitors restart at 06.15 tomorrow for a morning loop comprising five stages and 78.78km. The action on the opening 21.91km El Cubilete begins at 07.23.