First run in 2012. Los Mexicanos has a similarly twisty character to the Las Minas stage – not surprising considering the short road section between the two. The route starts on a mid to wide road with a lot of loose gravel. It stays twisty throughout but is faster than Las Minas.
How the action unfolded:
In a carbon copy of this morning’s loop, Mads Ostberg added victory in Los Mexicanos to his win in the previous stage at Las Minas.
The Norwegian was fastest by two-tenths of a second in his Ford Fiesta RS from the similar car of Thierry Neuville. With Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Ogier tucked in just behind, the fastest four drivers were covered by just seven-tenths of a second.
Ostberg reduced Ogier’s lead to 18.2sec but as the times were so close, there were no major moves at the top end of the leaderboard.
Ostberg admitted he lost a little time in the second half of the stage. “I was driving perfectly and can’t push any harder but the character of the roads was different,” he said.
Neuville appeared relaxed at the finish. “So far, so good,” he said. “It was a nice stage and the engine and the car worked well. We swapped tyres before the stage and I think I can manage to get through the next test without any tyre problems.”
Hirvonen was third, 0.5sec behind Ostberg, and it was clear he had put in a real effort. “I really tried to take some time out of the boys but the Fords are going very fast and Ogier is consistent,” he said.
Ogier was fourth, but the Frenchman ceded only 0.7sec to Ostberg. He, too, was relaxed but admitted that perhaps the Fiestas were quicker than his Polo R in twisty sections.
Evgeny Novikov was fifth in his Fiesta RS, 2.3sec behind Ostberg. The Russian conceded he wouldn’t attack after his morning problems. “I have no reason to do so. I’ll try to keep a good speed, but it’s quite difficult after what happened this morning.
Sixth fastest was Dani Sordo, the Spaniard a little more upbeat after a lacklustre day in his Citroen DS3. “We put two spares tyres on the front and changed the set-up. It’s a little better but still……” he said.
In the WRC 2 category Yuriy Protasov’s troubled day continued when he retired his Subaru Impreza with broken suspension before the start. He had earlier lost time with a front left puncture and broken power steering.