Friday | 07 Mar 2014

Friday mid-leg: Ostberg leads

Mads Ostberg holds a narrow lead over world champion Sébastien Ogier after this morning stages in the opening leg of Rally Mexico.

Each claimed two stage wins but Ostberg returned to the León service park with a 3.3sec advantage in his Citroen DS3. The lead would have been larger but he lost time in the final test when co-driver Jonas Andersson forgot to remove the radiator blanking plate, which keeps the engine warm on road sections, before the start.

Ogier stretched his overnight advantage in his Volkswagen Polo R by winning the opening Los Mexicanos test before Ostberg moved ahead with fastest time in the 44.03km El Chocolate. He moved 6.6sec clear with quickest time in Las Minas before Andersson’s error.

Mikko Hirvonen lies a further 8.0sec behind in a Ford Fiesta RS despite a left front puncture in the opening stage. Despite ploughing the loose surface gravel as first car into the stages, Jari-Matti Latvala minimised his losses and lies fourth, 19.2sec off the lead.

Kris Meeke and Robert Kubica complete the top six, despite a problem with the hydraulic system on the Pole’s paddle shift gearchange. Elfyn Evans, Martin Prokop, Thierry Neuville and Benito Guerra complete the top 10.

Andreas Mikkelsen retired his Polo R with broken suspension after going off and hitting a rock while Chris Atkinson has endured a trying debut in his Hyundai i20. A broken switch in his car’s anti-lag system, brake problems and broken right rear suspension left him almost 4min 30sec behind.

Yuriy Protasov leads WRC 2 in a Fiesta R5 by 7.1sec from the Fiesta RRC of Lorenzo Bertelli, with the Mitusbishi Lancer of Max Rendina third. Early leader Ott Tanak retired after going off and ripping a wheel from his Fiesta R5.