Saturday | 07 Mar 2015

SS11: VW duo equally matched

There was little to split Rally Guanajuato Mexico leader Sébastien Ogier and second-placed Jari-Matti Latvala through Saturday morning’s opening speed test.

Stage info: SS11

Ibarrilla 1, 30.27km
This is a classic Mexican stage and a tough way to start the second leg - the roads are wide and the pace is high. It climbs steadily to 2599 metres at 21km before plunging downhill to the finish on narrower, more technical roads. There are several drainage ditches in the first 3km ready to trap the unwary.

More than 30km of flat-out driving over tough gravel roads in the mountains above León ended with the Volkswagen Polo R team-mates split by just 0.2sec. It left Ogier leading by 13.7sec.

“Not an easy stage, but I had a clean run,” said Ogier. “We tried our best but it’s hard to push.”

Latvala clipped a rock 5km from the finish and although the Finn reported a strange feeling from the damper for a couple of kilometres, he was unconcerned.

“There was a big rock in a right corner which I drove over and it sent a shock through the damper. It felt like a puncture but the tyres are OK,” he explained.

Mads Østberg was third fastest in his DS 3 ahead of Dani Sordo, who reported brake problems towards the finish in his Hyundai i20.

All yesterday’s retirees restarted, including Ott Tänak after a crane raised his Ford Fiesta RS from its resting place in five metres of water after rolling into a lake.

The car was winched out after 10 hours beneath the surface (pictured below) and astonishingly M-Sport’s mechanics had it running again in just three hours.

They replaced the gearbox, fuel tank, turbo, cooling package, boost control valves, electronics, brakes and suspension at the front and rear. They also repaired the engine block and drained it of water.

Tänak drove the car into parc fermé at midnight amid huge applause from watching crowds. However, problems starting the engine this morning meant he left service late and stopped in the refuel zone at the service park exit. It is hoped he will restart tomorrow.

More News