Saturday | 05 Mar 2016

SS11: Latvala stuns in Saturday opener

Jari-Matti Latvala extended his Rally Guanajuato Mexico lead to almost a minute after a stunning performance through Saturday morning’s opening Ibarrilla speed test that even surprised himself.

Stage info: SS11

Ibarrilla, 30.38km
Ibarrilla is driven in the opposite direction to last year and lined with cacti virtually the whole way. It is littered with big dips and compressions and contains a blisteringly fast section midway through in which drivers will be flat out for almost 2km before negotiating a new purpose-built jump alongside colourful wigwams. An 8km section will be shared across four different tests during the weekend.

Like yesterday, Latvala had the benefit of cleaner road conditions due to a lower start position and he won the test by 14.1sec from Hayden Paddon. The Finn was 19.8sec faster than road opener Sébastien Ogier to increase his lead over the Frenchman to 51.9sec.

“I didn’t expect such a good time, I more or less expected to be equal with Ogier,” said Volkswagen Polo R pilot Latvala, who feared a puncture after hitting a rock in a hairpin near the finish. “I reacted just before I hit it but I was a little panicked.”

Team-mate Ogier opted for Michelin’s hard compound tyres to combat the slippery loose gravel and believed he did all he could in the worst of the conditions.

Paddon opted for a mix of hard compound rubber at the front and soft at the rear of his Hyundai i20 and, combined with ovenight set-up changes, it gave the Kiwi a more precise feeling. “I think I can push with a bit more confidence,” he said.

Team-mate Dani Sordo made similar changes but was less happy with the grip available. He was sixth fastest but retained his grip on third ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen.

Mads Østberg reported a possible gearshift problem in his Ford Fiesta RS and slipped more than half a minute behind Paddon in sixth, while team-mate Eric Camilli retired after crashing shortly before the finish.

Head to WRC+ to see the latest onboard and video reports from Rally Guanajuato Mexico

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