Saturday morning’s opening speed test at Rally Guananjuato Mexico was neutralised after Esapekka Lappi slid off the road close to the finish, leaving his Citroën C3 partially blocking the track.
Stage info: SS10
SS10: Guanajuatito 1, 25.90km
Saturday morning’s opener is a stage of contrasts, blisteringly fast sections mixed with tight and technical parts. It contains a couple of steep downhill roads and some tricky blind crests early on. It finishes 5km earlier than last year.
The Finn slide wide on a left corner 800 metres from the end of the Guanajuatito special stage. The rear of his C3 dropped into a ditch while the front came to rest across the road and could not be moved.
The following Kris Meeke and Elfyn Evans managed to squeeze by before organisers red flagged the stage, leaving the remaining competitors to drive slowly to the finish. They will be issued with notional times.
The decision to halt the test could prove a blessing for leader Sébastien Ogier. The Frenchman picked up a front right puncture in his C3 and the red flag may have saved him from a considerable time loss.
“The puncture was a bit earlier but we had a red flag so we had to stop. We drove over some rocks on the road that were pulled on from the cars ahead, I couldn’t avoid them in the line,” Ogier explained.
Kris Meeke was fastest before the stage was curtailed. The Briton was 12.1sec quicker than Evans in his Toyota Yaris to demote the Ford Fiesta driver in the overall standings by 5.8sec.
Ott Tänak was third quickest in his Yaris, a further 7.0sec adrift, but all times and positions reman provisional until the organisers allocate notional times.
Jari-Matti Latvala restarted following last night’s retirement due to alternator problems in his Yaris. He deliberately started the stage 10 minutes late, incurring a 1min 40sec penalty but giving him the advantage of cleaner and faster road conditions in his bid to climb back up the leaderboard.