06 Mar 10
Czech Republic driver Martin Prokop leads Rally Mexico's S-WRC category at Saturday's midpoint after mechanical problems slowed overnight leader Xevi Pons.
Things started well today for Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Pons, who began Saturday's competition with an eight second lead over Prokop - also in a Ford.
On SS10 the Spaniard stretched his lead to 22.9sec, but it all went wrong two kilometres into the next stage, when a clutch problem cost him more than 40sec and dropped him behind Prokop in the S-WRC standings.
The problem persisted on the following two stages and Prokop - the reigning J-WRC champion - arrived back in Leon for the midday service 20.7sec ahead. After an uncomfortable day on Friday, when fumes from a fuel leak gave him a constant headache, Prokop was satisfied with his new position.
"It looks like everything’s fine this morning and we’ve fixed the car so that it works perfectly," he said. "I’m a little bit angry because we got caught in dust from Xevi's car on some occasions and I couldn't see much, but we're glad to be leading. We aim to keep this position now. It’s perfect for us."
Pons's Nupel Global Racing team hopes to replace the clutch in the service ready for the repeated loop of stages this afternoon.
Qatari Skoda driver Nasser Al-Attiyah remains third, 1min 17sec behind Pons.
Returning today as a SuperRally entrant, Michal Kosciuszko is fourth, but a distant eleven minutes behind Al-Attiyah after his alternator-related retirement on Friday. The Pole had led the class before his problems and proved to be the fastest driver today, too - winning each of this morning's four stages.