Kris Meeke edged further ahead of Sébastien Ogier at Rally Guanajuato Mexico on Saturday morning.
Stage info: SS10 / 11
SS10: Lajas de Oro 1, 38.31km
The longest stage of Saturday’s leg contains a bit of everything. It climbs initially on a wide road before turning onto a tricky narrow section on regraded tracks which have not been used before. The rest of the test mixes fast open sections with tighter parts. There are many surface changes that blend smooth gravel with bumps and compressions.
SS11: El Brinco 1, 10.09km
El Brinco is famous for its big jump which this year is 1.2km from the finish. It’s nature has changed, with a much bigger compression and a ledge cut into it so it ressembles a step. The test is wide open and fast from start to finish.
The Citroën C3 pilot was second in both Lajas de Oro and El Brinco to increase his lead to 23.5sec as the rally returned to the León service park after more than 75km of action in the mountains above the city.
The Northern Irishman was glad to see the back of El Brinco. “This is my bogey stage. I’ve made a few mistakes on these roads in the past and never felt comfortable. Today it felt good but we have a tough afternoon ahead,” he said.
Ogier was third in both tests after a clean loop, although his Ford Fiesta showed cosmetic damage at the rear after clipping some bushes in Lajas de Oro.
Thierry Neuville was fastest in El Brinco but the Belgian was a lonely third, 43.6sec adrift of Ogier and almost a minute ahead of Ott Tänak. “I’m not really pushing, I can’t catch the guys in front unless they do any mistakes,” said the Hyundai i20 driver.
Lack of confidence was Tänak’s concern, the Estonian unhappy with his Fiesta’s set-up. He was 49.2sec ahead of Hayden Paddon, the Kiwi climbing to fifth as he displaced Juho Hänninen, whose illness showed no signs of improvement.
Jari-Matti Latvala was seventh, despite brake problems in his Toyota Yaris. The pedal was working correctly but there was little stopping power available to the Finn. Both he and Paddon punctured their left rear tyre after swiping the same rock in El Brinco.
Eric Camilli was eighth, having snatched the WRC 2 lead from Pontus Tidemand, with Elfyn Evans tenth.
Dani Sordo continued to shine in his i20. He took a second consecutive stage win in Lajas de Oro and was only 0.9sec away from completing a hat-trick in El Brinco. He put that down to a chunk of aero missing from the rear wing.
Stéphane Lefebvre was the morning’s main casualty. The Frenchman slid his C3 off the road and remained there, while Lorenzo Bertelli rolled his Fiesta at a hairpin.