First run in 2012, Las Minas has an unusual character for a Rally Mexico stage. It is generally narrow and twisty and also features some sharp climbs and descents. The first 6.3km are narrow, tight and technical and there’s a lot of loose gravel around. At 6.3km the stage changes and the road opens up and gets much faster.
How the action unfolded:
Mads Ostberg powered to fastest time in his Ford Fiesta RS to move into the lead of the rally. The Norwegian was quickest by 2.7sec and that was enough to give him a 1.4sec advantage at the head of the overall standings.
Ostberg was unhappy with his Fiesta’s set-up in the previous test but felt more comfortable here.
“The set-up isn’t perfect but it’s better. On the high-speed sections it’s not so good, but it’s better on the low-speed parts. There’s a hole in the floor and a lot of dust in the car and I’m struggling to see. I used the wipers a lot but it didn’t help,” he said.
Mikko Hirvonen was second in the stage in his Citroen DS3 and that promoted him to third overall. He passed the limping Evgeny Novikov in the stage and admitted: “I lost a few seconds in the dust behind Novikov, but that was much better.”
Sebastien Ogier was next up, the Frenchman 6.7sec behind Ostberg. The Volkswagen Polo R dropped almost eight seconds to Ostberg in the opening split alone, but denied any problems. He is second overall, 7.5sec ahead of Hirvonen.
Belgium’s Thierry Neuville was fourth and lies fourth overall in his Fiesta RS. He was conscious of managing his tyres over the long loop of five stages, explaining: “There were a lot of rocks on the road. I tried not to use the tyres too much.”
Dani Sordo’s Citroen DS3 and the Fiesta RS of Nasser Al-Attiyah rounded off the top six in both the stage and the leaderboard.
Novikov dropped more than four minutes in his Fiesta RS to add to the time loss on the opening stage. The Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team believes it could be a continuation of the issue which forced him to change the engine’s ECU in the previous test.
Chris Atkinson was 21 minutes late starting the stage after working furiously on the liaison section to repair broken steering on his Citroen DS3. The Australian hit a rock in the previous stage and his late arrival at Las Minas cost 3min 30sec in penalties.