Sunday | 08 Mar 2015

SS19: Ostberg lays claim to second

Mads Østberg won Sunday morning’s marathon opening stage at Rally Guanajuato Mexico to edge further ahead in his intense battle with Andreas Mikkelsen for second.

Stage info: SS19

Guanajuatito, 55.82km
The longest stage of the rally is a tough one. It starts on narrow roads with plenty of dips and the opening 10km are technical, with many corners and a gravelly surface. From then on it becomes more flowing and faster. Of the 54km, almost 20km have already been used in Saturday’s Ibarrilla and Otates stages.

The 55.82km test was the longest of the weekend and Østberg completed it 3.5sec faster than his fellow Norwegian to extend his advantage to 8.0sec in Citroen’s DS 3 with only two stages remaining.

Mikkelsen spun his Volkswagen Polo R after 45km and had no dashboard data in the cockpit, meaning it was hard for him to understand which gear he was in.

Rally leader Sébastien Ogier took no risks in his Polo R and was second fastest, 2.4sec behind Østberg. The Frenchman admitted he was surprised the gap wasn’t bigger such was his caution.

Both Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville reported the brakes on their Hyundai i20s started to fade towards the end of the stage. Sordo, returning after breaking two ribs in a training accident last month, was also feeling pain from his heavily strapped right shoulder.

Lorenzo Bertelli completed a disappointing weekend with a third retirement when he went off the road on a right hand bend after 31.6km and ripped the right rear wheel from his Ford Fiesta RS.

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