06 Mar 10
Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Xevi Pons is Friday's overnight leader in the Super 2000 category in Rally Mexico, having inherited the position on SS6 from early leader Michal Kosciuszko.
Kosciuszko had opened up a 31sec class lead by the fifth stage but retired on SS6 when the alternator belt snapped on his Ford Fiesta S2000.
Pons, from Spain, has maintained a slim lead throughout the afternoon stages and will carry an eight second lead over fellow Fiesta driver Martin Prokop into Saturday's competition.
"I'm very happy, but more than a little surprised to be leading on my first rally in this car because everything is so new," said Pons. "But okay the results are very good and so is the car. It’s not been easy on these stages but I'm hoping to keep the same sort of form tomorrow."
After a difficult morning, when his Fiesta suffered a fuel leak and rock damage to its front end, Prokop rounded off his day with a fastest time on SS9. Considering the battered state of his car, the Czech driver was hoping for a gentler run on Saturday.
"It’s been a very difficult day - although more for the car than for me," he acknowledged. "There was a lot of destruction in the morning and the damage I have done to the front end means I'm going have to take it easy from here on. We've been leaking fuel pretty much all day, which has made it uncomfortable and irritating for my eyes. It’s not the best situation, but I'm happy we can continue."
Third place overnight, 1min 10sec behind Prokop, is former Production Car World Rally Champion Nasser Al Attiyah. On his first event in a Skoda Fabia S2000, Al-Attiyah, from Qatar felt his pace had improved throughout the day and proved that with a fastest time on the penultimate Super Special (SS8). "When we started this morning I didn't have any confidence and I had a spin early on so I decided to just clear the stages in one piece and re-focus in the afternoon. We've been able to push a bit harder now and I'm quite happy. We've learned a lot," he said.
Norwegian Skoda driver Eyvind Brynildsen was third in the class after Friday's opening stage, but retired when a pace note error led to an accident on SS2.
Also on the day one retirement list was Andorran driver Albert Llovera, who stopped on SS7 when a branch knocked the master switch on the outside of his Fiat Abarth and cut all the electrics. He restarted after 15 minutes but stopped on SS7 with a holed radiator.