Friday | 04 Mar 2016

SS7: Latvala widens Mexico lead

Jari-Matti Latvala extended his Rally Guanajuato Mexico advantage to more than half a minute in Friday afternoon’s repeated El Chocolate test.

Stage info: SS7

El Chocolate 2, 54.21km
El Chocolate marks the high point of the WRC season as cars top 2743 metres. It begins with a new 16.7km section, initially on wide roads before narrowing as it climbs through a sequence of hairpins on a bumpy surface. Once it joins familiar territory the road is fast and wide with plenty of long, enticing corners, except for a tricky 3km section which demands care.

The Volkswagen Polo R driver was fastest by 10.0sec from team-mate Sébastien Ogier to stretch his lead to 31.2sec with one gravel mountain test and two passes around the León race circuit stage remaining today.

“My road position advantage isn’t as big as this morning so I have to be pleased with my time,” said Latvala. “I have to be patient. I don’t need to take all the time in one stage.”

Ogier was more focused on the gap to team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen behind than to Latvala. “That’s the guy I’m fighting with. The roads were cleaner than this morning but still loose in places. The slower cars in the first run don’t slide as much as we do, so my rear tyres were always in the loose and it’s like having grip at the front only,” he explained.

However, Mikkelsen’s challenge was temporarily derailed after a horrible stage. “I missed a junction early on and had to turn round. After that something felt really strange with the car. It was so unstable, maybe it’s the differential? It was moving so much that I had a lot of time on the brakes and lost them too,” said the Norwegian.

Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon was third fastest, albeit 32.9sec off Latvala’s pace, with team-mate Dani Sordo fourth. The Spaniard endured a frustrating stage as his i20 was moving a lot and a sticking throttle added to his woes.

Sordo retained third overall, 24.7sec ahead of Mikkelsen. Paddon relegated Mads Østberg to sixth, the Norwegian picking up a 10sec penalty for a jump start.

Ott Tänak spun his Ford Fiesta RS while Eric Camilli yielded more than two minutes after losing first and second gear and struggling to downshift in his Fiesta RS.

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

More News