Ogier edges ahead, Lappi’s Fiesta goes up in flames in Mexico

Sebastian Ogier

Sebastian Ogier holds a 13.2s lead after the first full day of Rally Mexico, while Esapekka Lappi’s event is over after his Fiesta caught fire.

Teemu Suninen holds second in Round 3 of the World Rally Championship in his M-Sport Ford while Elfyn Evans makes for two Toyota Gazoo Racing drivers in the top three after Special Stage 12.

Ogier took over the rally lead when he won the Ortega test, the second stage of the Friday morning loop, and was also quickest through both passes of the Autodromo Shell V-Power super specials in the afternoon.

“It’s been a good day, I’m very pleased to be in the lead tonight,” said the Frenchman.

“This morning the times were not bad but the confidence was not at the maximum.

“I was still trying to get comfortable, but I made some adjustments to the set-up and having some more miles in the car on this surface helped me to feel much better in the afternoon.

“Tomorrow will be another long day. We will have the best starting position, so we have to try to make the most out of it.”

Suninen and Evans are separated by 20.0s and occupy the minor placings by virtue of their consistency, with neither having won any of the 11 stages which have been run so far.

Ott Tanak clawed his way back to fourth, 0.2s behind Evans, after dropping as far back as eighth when he damaged his Hyundai.

The Estonian had only just won the first stage of the Friday, El Chocolate, to move into the rally lead when he ended up wide of the line and hit a rock.

“We’ve had a really bad day as a team,” said Tanak.

“We lost a lot of time on the second stage, which dropped us back. I went wide and hit quite a big stone which damaged the rear suspension.

“We had some spare parts to fix it but not enough, so we had to limp to the end.

“Thankfully, we didn’t lose too much time, but it made for a difficult Friday.”

Lappi’s M-Sport Ford burnt out completely at the end of SS7, although the Finn drove it clear of the finish line and therefore removed the danger to officials and others standing nearby.

“On the stop line, Janne (Ferm, co-driver) opened the door and said the car is burning,” said Lappi.

“I didn’t realise how big the fire was, so I tried to drive. Luckily we are fine, but I don’t know what caused it. We were fine on the stage.”

Special Stage 8 was cancelled as a result of the incident.

Thierry Neuville is officially 22nd despite winning both of the Thursday night street stages and also SS6.

He stopped on SS9 when his Hyundai developed an electrical problem, but will return to action on the Saturday (local time).

His team-mate Dani Sordo is out of the event altogether, however, due to an overheating engine in his i20.

Kalle Rovanpera, in the third Toyota Yaris, is fifth overall at 2.3s behind Tanak and 35.7s off the pace in total.

The rally continues late tonight.

Highlights: Special Stages 1 to 4

Replay: Lappi’s car catches fire

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