Sébastien Ogier took the lead of Rally Guanajuato Mexico when Andreas Mikkelsen retired in Friday afternoon’s opening speed test.
Stage info: SS5
El Chocolate 2, 31.57km
El Chocolate’s roads are initially wide before narrowing as the stage climbs steeply through a sequence of hairpins on a bumpy surface. It becomes tighter still as it hugs the mountainside before another series of uphill hairpins after 16km. It plunges back downhill and then climbs again to a high point of 2660 metres. There are big cuts for the brave through long, enticing corners and tricky small bridges to negotiate.
Daylong leader Mikkelsen parked his Hyundai i20 with 6km remaining of the repeat pass through El Chocolate. The cause is not yet known, but the Norwegian had earlier dropped almost 90sec when he stopped shortly before the 14km point.
Ogier was fastest, but only by 0.8sec from Dani Sordo, who was just 1.9sec adrift in the overall standings in his i20.
“I think the grip is a little bit better than this morning and the feeling is better in the car,” said Ogier.
Elfyn Evans climbed into third place, third fastest time for the Ford Fiesta pilot increasing his advantage over Kris Meeke’s Toyota Yaris to 7.1sec.
Behind Meeke, Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala swapped positions. Fourth fastest for Lappi was sufficient for the Finn to demote his fellow countryman by 1.2sec.
There was no real respite for championship leader Ott Tänak, who continued to lose time by cleaning the roads from first in the start order. The Estonian was eighth quickest in his Yaris.
“It’s hard say how much cleaner the road is. In some places there are good lines, but in some slow sections it was like it had never been driven before. I did all I could,” he said.