Friday | 06 Mar 2015

SS1: Neuville grabs early lead in Mexico

Tens of thousands of fans packed the historic streets in the former mining town of Guanajuato to create a crackling atmosphere as Rally Guanajuato Mexico roared into life on Thursday night.

Stage info: SS1

Street Stage Guanajuato, 1.01km
Immediately after a colourful start ceremony, drivers tackle a brief blast through the narrow streets of Guanajuato. Part of the test threads through underground tunnels built by silver miners in the 1600s before emerging onto streets lined with fans. High kerbs are a constant threat and a roundabout ‘donut’ near the finish is a big hit with the locals.

 Music and dancing filled the town all evening at the colourful start ceremony, after which competitors immediately tackled the slippery opening special stage.

Thierry Neuville blasted his Hyundai i20 to fastest time, stopping the clocks two-tenths of a second ahead of surprise package Lorenzo Bertelli. But Neuville admitted his run wasn’t perfect.

“My pace notes weren’t 100 per cent right. I was a bit late on the brakes in the last right-hand bend and we went wide. Not the best start, but we have a good time so I have to be pleased,” he said.

Bertelli topped the times for a long while in his Ford Fiesta RS. The Italian was relaxed after his FWRT team’s sea freight container, packed with service park equipment, tools and spares, finally arrived at 02.00 today after a delayed journey from Europe.

Volkswagen team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen were tied in third in their Polo Rs, with Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg completing the top six. Just eight-tenths of a second covered the leading sextet.

Robert Kubica broke the rear left wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS after hitting a kerb just a few metres after the start, while Dani Sordo felt his Hyundai i20 may have been down on power.

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