SS6: Meeke closes

Kris Meeke closed on Rally Guanajuato Mexico leader Dani Sordo after repeating his earlier victory in Friday afternoon’s Duarte - Derramadero speed test.

Stage info: SS6

Duarte - Derramadero 2, 26.05km
Friday afternoon’s opener mixes familiar roads from various stages down the years, including an opening section last used five years ago, when it was driven in the opposite direction. After beginning on a double width road, it climbs quickly before becoming narrower and more technical. It is fast throughout, with many bumps and jumps sure to test drivers.

The Citroën C3 driver stopped the clocks 4.3sec ahead of a cautious Spaniard to cut his deficit to 12.3sec with four more speed tests remaining of this long opening leg.

“It’s more enjoyable on the second pass, a bit more grip and we’re on the right tyres,” said the Briton, who eased away from new third-placed driver Ott Tänak.

In contrast to Meeke’s choice of hard compound Michelin tyres, Sordo opted for a mix of hard and soft rubber. He was quickly out of his Hyundai i20 at the end of the stage to examine the wear.

“I tried to drive not so aggressively because I have soft tyres at the rear and the car was moving a little bit,” explained Sordo, who encountered dust kicked up by the delayed Teemu Suninen in the final 2km.

Fourth was sufficient for Toyota Yaris driver Tänak to claim third place from Sébastien Loeb, who conceded a few seconds after an overshoot in his C3.

“I didn’t see the junction because I was looking further ahead and I was too late on the brakes,” explained the Frenchman, who is just 0.5sec behind the Estonian.

Second fastest for Sébastien Ogier gave the Ford Fiesta driver more breathing space over Andreas Mikkelsen in fifth, while Jari-Matti Latvala appeared satisfied his Yaris’ morning overheating problems were resolved.

Suninen dropped almost 2min 30sec after sliding wide and clouting a barrier with his Fiesta’s rear. The Finn thought he had a puncture, but the tyre remained inflated and suspension damage was his concern.

Elfyn Evans did not restart after his morning roll. Co-driver Dan Barritt was taken to hospital for a check-up and the pair will play no further part in the weekend.

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