Protasov heads WRC 2 champ in Mexico
Ukraine driver holds off Al-Attiyah
Protasov had kept the reigning champion at bay during a rally-long duel and earned breathing space when Al-Attiyah spun this morning and the gap rose to almost 40sec.
However, the Ukraine driver (below) parked his Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Car this afternoon to hand the Qatari an overnight lead of 7min 50.6sec.
“We did a really good job today,” said Al-Attiyah. “I feel sorry for Yurii because we had a good battle, but I’m happy to lead. Now we have to be clever and keep things sensible tomorrow.”
Nicolas Fuchs was second in a Fiesta R5, despite a morning puncture and a 30sec penalty after arriving late at a time control when a tyre change took longer than planned.
The Peruvian moved ahead of Jari Ketomaa when the Finn broke the front left driveshaft on his Fiesta R5 in SS16. He replaced it after the stage but dropped 2min 30sec to fall behind Fuchs.
Ketomaa had just 9.6sec in hand over Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari in fourth, with Simone Tempestini and Max Rendina completing the top six. Tempestini headed Rendina in the Production Cup category within WRC 2.
Stéphane Lefebvre retired his DS 3 R5 after a slow roll in SS16 while Valeriy Gorban stopped his Mini John Cooper two stages earlier.