Sunday 9 March 2014

Rally - Day 2 Mexico

Volkswagen leads the Rally Mexico with two Polo R WRCs going into today’s final leg. After 319.71 of 399.93 kilometres against, Sébastien Ogier is 1m 00.3s clear of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

Andreas Mikkelsen crashed out on the second stage of the day, trying to cut a left-hander and rolled the car on an embankment, but they should make the final day.

Afterwards Andreas Mikkelsen commented: “Retiring early two days in a row obviously doesn’t make a great impression. It might look as though I took too many risks today, but that is precisely what I was trying to avoid. I was actually downright cautious. However, we hit a hole when cutting the corner in a left-hander, which flipped and rolled us.”

In similar trouble was Mads Østberg. On the first stage of the day the Citroen driver hit a bank just 200 metres shy of the finish. It was only after passing the Stop control that the crew noticed that part of the suspension was broken. Despite their attempts to repair the damage before the next stage with “a Viking fix”, the crew ran out of time.

Bouncing back on Day 2, Kris Meeke scored his first stage win on SS18 to move up into ninth position in the overall standings and commented: “The stages are really complicated when you haven’t experienced them before. You have to find the right rhythm. The roads are slippery with some very narrow, twisty sections. I was struggling to feel confident on the first pass. We are doing everything for the first time, which is part and parcel of the learning process. Once you’re more familiar with the stages, everything is a lot more straightforward. So, the feeling was a lot better this afternoon and I think you can see that in the times.”

However, best placed Brit at present is young Elfyn Evans. He finished the day in fourth place half a minute behind Thierry Neuville: “On the whole I think we can be pretty happy with what we have done today,” said Elfyn, “The only real disappointment was on the longer stages – we had a couple of little impacts with a few big stones and that made me a little conservative through the rest of the stage. Then as the surface got more sandy and loose, I wasn't so comfortable with the grip and we lost time. For our first time here, I think we can be pleased with the progress we have made. We know that there is still some work to do, and I don't think we'll be able to catch the third position on speed alone."

Team mate Mikko Hirvonen set about making up lost time after yesterday’s car problem. Hirvonen’s charge was halted with a high temperature on the IDU (injector driver unit) midway through SS8. On Day 2, with the car fixed, Hirvonen was “let loose – testing the limits to gain further assurance with the Fiesta RS WRC on gravel”. The crew were testing a range of set-up configurations which obviously worked. On their second run over the Ibarrilla test their time was some 20 seconds faster than their first.

Leaderboard after 18 (of 22) stages:
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:36:42.2
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:00.3
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:37.0
4. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:24.0
5. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:02.5
6. Benito Guerra / Borja Rozada (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +10:33.6
7. Chris Atkinson / Stéphane Prévot (Hyundai i20 WRC) +12:18.3
8. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +16:09.4
9. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +17:18.9
10. Yuriy Protasov / Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta R5) +17:35.0

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