Neuville tops Mexico warm-up

Thierry Neuville was fastest in shakedown at Rally Guanajuato Mexico on Wednesday evening as the new-era 2017 World Rally Cars faced gravel action for the first time in a rally environment.

There was huge anticipation in the León service park when crews headed out to the 5.31km Llano Grande test as onlookers waited for the first form guide from the new cars on dirt roads.

Neuville was quickest on his third and final pass through the test in a Hyundai i20 Coupe, 1.7sec quicker than Sébastien Ogier’s Ford Fiesta. Kris Meeke completed the top three in a Citroën C3, a further half second back.

Rally Sweden winner Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth in a Toyota Yaris, meaning all four different manufacturer teams were represented in the top four places.

The rally contains several sections of road that have never previously been used and Neuville warned they could cause problems.

“The rally is tricky and we need to be very, very careful in the new parts which are rough in places,” he said. “They will be slippery with a lot or rocks everywhere because the stages have been graded. They have made the roads wider, but taken a lot of stones from the roadside onto the tracks, so it will be tough.”

The Belgian denied feeling under pressure after crashing out of the lead at the opening two rounds in Monte-Carlo and Sweden.

“We’ve done many great things but obviously we weren’t able to get it to the end of the rally. We were a bit unlucky, hopefully we can bring home some good results now for the team.

“It’s important for the manufacturers’ championship but also for me in the drivers’ championship to catch some points on Ogier, Latvala and Tänak. The title is still possible. We can score 30 points on just one rally and they are only 40 points ahead,” he added.

PositionDriverCarTime
1.Thierry NeuvilleHyundai i20 Coupe3min 45.8sec
2.Sébastien OgierFord Fiesta3min 47.5sec
3.Kris MeekeCitroën C33min 48.0sec
4.Jari-Matti LatvalaToyota Yaris3min 48.3sec
5.Hayden PaddonHyundai i20 Coupe3min 48.6sec
6.Dani SordoHyundai i20 Coupe3min 48.7sec
7.Elfyn EvansFord Fiesta3min 48.9sec
8.Ott TänakFord Fiesta3min 50.3sec
9.Stéphane LefebvreCitroën C33min 50.6sec
10.Juho HänninenToyota Yaris3min 50.7sec

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