Sébastien Ogier won both special stages this morning to stretch his lead in Rally Mexico to 49.0sec over Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
He started the second leg with a 26.1sec advantage over Mads Ostberg, but earned breathing space when Ostberg hit a bank in the opening 30.33km Ibarrilla and broke the rear left suspension upright on his Citroen DS3.
Ostberg battled valiantly to make repairs ahead of the monster 53.69km Otates, but conceded defeat before the start and will return tomorrow under Rally 2 regulations.
With an extended lead, Ogier admitted he could afford to control his pace, while Latvala was second fastest in both stages in the team’s other Polo R.
The VW duo have a comfortable cushion over Thierry Neuville, who is 3min 51.6.sec off the lead in third in a Hyundai i20. The Belgian moved ahead of Elfyn Evans in Otates and is 11.1sec clear of the Welshman’s Ford Fiesta RS.
Martin Prokop and Benito Guerra complete the top six, both in Fiesta RS cars, with Chris Atkinson seventh in the other Hyundai. WRC 2 leader Yuriy Protasov is eighth with Mikko Hirvonen and Kris Meeke, both running under Rally 2 regulations after retiring yesterday, ninth and 10th.
Robert Kubica and Andreas Mikkelsen both rolled out in Otates.
Protasov has a lead of more than 16 minutes in WRC 2 over Max Rendina, who inherited second when fellow Italian Lorenzo Bertelli rolled heavily.