Saturday | 05 Mar 2016

SS13: Latvala treble takes lead over a minute

Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala completed a hat-trick of stage wins in Rally Guanajuato Mexico on Saturday morning to stretch his lead over team-mate Sébastien Ogier to 1min 16.3sec.

Stage info: SS12 / 13

SS12: Otates 1, 42.62km
Saturday’s longest test has claimed several victims in the past. Andreas Mikkelsen rolled heavily in 2014, Jari-Matti Latvala crashed several years previously and in 2013 Sébastien Ogier stopped to allow co-driver Julien Ingrassia to open a closed gate. After a narrow, uphill start, it is mostly fast and flowing on wide roads, although there is a 5km twisty section two-thirds of the way through.

SS13: El Brinco 1, 7.15km
This stretch of road is driven twice in this direction and once the opposite way in various stages. It is fast and wide for virtually the entire distance with plenty of high-speed dips. It ends 1km earlier than in previous years, meaning the finish is located at the spectacular El Brinco jump.

Having mastered the opening Ibarrilla test, the Finn was fastest through the long Otates by more than 18sec before ending a hugely satisfactory morning by edging out Andreas Mikkelsen over the famous El Brinco jump.

“This morning was better than I expected. It will be good to get to service now, have a coffee, relax and look at the rear brakes,” said the Polo R driver, who thought his brakes were overheating in slower sections.

Ogier was third and fifth through the two tests but resigned to his fate after cleaning the gravel as road opener. “What can I do? My target is to beat Andreas who is the guy behind me in the championship and that’s what I’m doing. There’s so much gravel….” he said.

Dani Sordo retained third in his Hyundai i20, 52.7sec behind Ogier, but despite top four times in both tests it wasn’t plain-sailing for the Spaniard. A spin near the finish of Otates cost 10sec and a broken fan caused the engine to overheat and reduce the available power.

Andreas Mikkelsen closed the gap on Sordo to 14.9sec after clean runs but Hayden Paddon yielded fifth to Mads Østberg after breaking the left rear suspension arm in Otates.

“We touched a bank just 1km after the start and it broke the rear toe arm. It’s exactly the same as yesterday so that’s something we have to work on,” said Paddon, who replaced the strut before El Brinco (pictured below), in which he was fourth fastest.

He was 1min 12.9sec behind Østberg’s Ford Fiesta RS with Ott Tänak and Martin Prokop next up, the Czech driver complaining of handling issues. Lorenzo Bertelli and WRC 2 leader Teemu Suninen completed the leaderboard.

Thierry Neuville was the second major casualty following Eric Camilli’s earlier demise. He crashed heavily near the finish of Otates, both Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul unhurt.

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

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