Thu 16 Mar 2023

Tanak tops the field on fan-packed Thursday super special

FIA World Rally Championship leader Ott Tänak pleased the masses who flocked to the UNESCO World Heritage Guanajuato city centre on Thursday night, setting the quickest time on both passes of Mexico's rally-opening street stage.

With the first 12 cars attacking both runs of the 1.12km stage in reverse order, Estonian Tänak enjoyed being the last out of the Rally1 cars before he takes over road-clearing duties on Friday morning.

The 35-year-old went 58sec flat on the first round in his Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 – 0.8 sec quicker than reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä. He then repeated the feat less than half an hour later when he again topped his Finnish rival to increase his overnight lead to 1.7 sec.

“Today was a bit of fun, tomorrow is the job,” opined the Estonian at the end of the second run, having already referenced the incredible fan turnout following the opening stage.  “When you are arriving here it is just full of crowds and you are driving in a tunnel of people.

“It is something different – they are really really passionate…with all this support it is fun.”

Enjoying his first full season with Hyundai, Esapekka Lappi finished a further 0.5sec behind Rovanperä in third position, after the Finnish pairing had tied for top honours on Thursday morning’s shakedown.

Lappi’s Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville was the next home with most recent winner in Mexico Sébastien Ogier rounding out the top five in fifth, behind the wheel of his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1.

Ogier’s team-mate Elfyn Evans was next home in sixth position, sneaking in 0.1sec ahead of Dani Sordo.

Both making their Mexican debuts, Pierre-Louis Loubet in his Puma and Takamoto Katsuta driving a Yaris ended the day in eighth and ninth respectively.

Starting outside of the top 12, Emil Lindholm needed to wait a little longer to begin his evening but the defending WRC2 champion ended the night rounding out the top 10. Opting to drive an older model Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo, the Finn quickly raced to the top of the WRC2 leaderboard, 1.6 sec clear of Nikolay Gryazin in similar machinery while Gus Greensmith, debuting his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 rounds out the top three in WRC’s main support category.

Guanajuato Rally Mexico Thursday night
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