SS1: Neuville grabs early lead in Mexico
Hyundai’s Belgian driver tops the times in Guanajuato
Super Special 1, 4.60km
León’s motor racing circuit hosts this test, in which two cars at a time tackle a mix of asphalt and gravel roads. A big jump and water splash are fan favourites and this is the first of three visits during the rally. It caught out Robert Kubica last year who rolled his Ford Fiesta RS.
He defeated Thierry Neuville in the headline heat at León motor racing circuit to relegate the Belgian, winner of the opening special stage in Guanajuato, to second. The gap between the two is 1.2sec.
“It’s a good start to the rally. Tomorrow all I can do is go flat out,” said the Volkswagen Polo R pilot, who faces a tough job to hold onto his advantage from first in the start order over mountain roads covered in a thick layer of loose gravel.
Hyundai’s Neuville was tied in second with Andreas Mikkelsen’s Polo R. The Norwegian edged out team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the penultimate heat, crossing the finish just a tenth of a second ahead, and the two were split by 0.6sec overall.
Mads Østberg defeated Elfyn Evans to hold fifth in Citroen’s DS 3, Evans losing confidence after a lurid slide under braking at a wet part of the circuit. Just behind Østberg in sixth was team-mate Kris Meeke, who outpaced Dani Sordo.
Ott Tänak, Robert Kubica, Sordo and Lorenzo Bertelli completed the top 10, while Hayden Paddon was 16th after spinning his Hyundai i20.