Saturday | 07 Mar 2015

SS12: Suspension damage wrecks Latvala's hopes

Jari-Matti Latvala’s hopes of challenging team-mate Sébastien Ogier for victory at Rally Guanajuato Mexico ended when he hit a bank and wrecked the rear of his Volkswagen Polo R.

Stage info: SS12

Otates 1, 42.90km
The same stage as last year, Otates is full of contrasts. After an initial steep climb through hairpins, it opens into a fast and flowing test, but from 30km it becomes narrower and twisty as it drops to the finish. It is the longest test of the leg and some roads will also be used in Sunday’s marathon Guanajuatito stage.

The Finn limped through the second half of Otates with his rear left wheel missing after a mistake, and retired from the leg at the end of the stage after conceding more than six minutes.

“We went a little bit wide in a fast right corner, the rear came out and hit a bank. We broke the rear suspension and lost the wheel,” said a dejected Latvala.

He was overtaken in the stage by Mads Østberg, who climbs to second overall in Citroen’s DS 3. He is 50.5sec behind Sébastien Ogier, who set fastest time by 13.0sec ahead of the Norwegian.

“We had a good stage,” said Ogier. “We’ve done the perfect rally, the perfect job. My target was not to lose too much to Jari-Matti this morning and push this afternoon, but his problem makes things a bit different for us.”

Østberg lost a few seconds in the dust of Latvala’s stricken car, but said his promotion to second would not change his plans. “I’ll continue driving like I am. I came here to enjoy it, it’s quite enjoyable and I don’t want to change anything,” he said.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Elfyn Evans climbed to third and fourth, the Welshman’s Fiesta RS completing the stage just a few seconds behind Latvala. Benito Guerra spun, while Lorenzo Bertelli stopped his Fiesta RS after 17km.

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