Saturday | 08 Mar 2014

Rally Mexico Saturday update

In summary

Sebastien Ogier stretched his lead in Rally Mexico to 60.3sec during today's third day. Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala lies second with Thierry Neuville on target for a maiden podium for Hyundai in third.

It was another tough day for the WRC's stars. Mads Ostberg retired from second with broken suspension while Robert Kubica and Andreas Mikkelsen both rolled out.

Here are the biggest stories of the day:  

Scare for Guerra

Sixth-placed Benito Guerra gave himself a fright when he went off the road and hit a tree in the 43.06km Otatitos (SS15) – a shorter version of the 53.69km Otates stage used this morning.

The impact damaged the door on Guerra’s side of his Ford Fiesta RS and it is now firmly wedged shut. The Mexican also hit his elbow in the incident but his concerns were more about the state of the car.

“I think the car is OK. I was trying to push a bit harder but I missed my braking point and we slid off. It was scary seeing that tree getting closer. It’s the most horrible thing when you see it coming to you,” he said.

Sébastien Ogier’s stage win was the Volkswagen squad’s 12th victory from 15 stages here. They have now won 40 of the 52 tests this season, a strike ratio of almost 77 per cent!

Ostberg retires, Kubica and Mikkelsen roll

Mads Ostberg’s valiant attempt to drag his injured Citroen DS3 into the monster 53.69km Otates (SS13) ended in disappointment when he retired before the start.

The second-placed Norwegian broke the rear left suspension after hitting a bank in the previous Ibarrilla stage, and Ostberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson made a temporary repair at the finish.

They stopped again 7km into the liaison section to remove the left rear driveshaft and bleed the brakes. They reached the arrival control at Otates but the damage was too great to continue. The Citroen team confirmed he will restart tomorrow under Rally 2 regulations.

Also out on SS13 were Robert Kubica and Andreas Mikkelsen, who both rolled. Kubica planted his Ford Fiesta RS on its roof after 34km. It was his fourth accident of the rally after rolling on Friday and two incidents during the recce. Both the Pole and co-driver Maciej Szczepaniak were unhurt.

Mikkelsen rolled early in the stage when he cut a corner too sharply and his Polo R flipped over. He wanted to gain experience on his first appearance here but has completed only three stages after retiring on Friday, when he hit a rock and broke the rear suspension.

Drama for Ostberg

Mads Ostberg’s grip on second place hung by a thread after the Norwegian emerged from this morning’s opening 30.33km Ibarrilla test (SS12) with broken suspension at the rear of his Citroen DS3.

Ostberg, who restarted with a 16.4sec advantage over Jari-Matti Latvala, swiped a bank near the end. Although he dropped only a fraction over 10sec, the rear upright was broken.

“Too fast into a corner, slid wide and hit a bank on the outside. It was a heavy impact,” said Ostberg.

He pulled up beyond the finish control and he and co-driver Jonas Andersson worked hard on the car, taking advice from team engineers in the León service park via telephone.

They tied up the suspension with three ratchet straps and many cable ties before finally heading off to the 53.69km Otates test. Asked if he thought the repairs would work, a fighting Ostberg said: “Of course. It’s a Viking fix!”

The time gaps on the leaderboard are quite large so if he could get through Otates with a loss of even three or four minutes it wouldn’t be a disaster.

Volkswagen completed a sweep of the top three stage times – the 14th occasion they have achieved this since they entered WRC last season. Sébastien Ogier was fastest by 4.5sec from Jari-Matti Latvala with Andreas Mikkelsen, returning under Rally 2 rules and benefiting from cleaner road conditions behind the frontrunners, was third.