Dani Sordo holds the lead of Rally Mexico 2018 following Friday’s action, with the returning champion Sebastien Loeb closing in on the Spaniard’s Hyundai after a dramatic Friday loop
Last years winner Kris Meeke hit the front of the field initially on Friday, and looked set to chase down his second consecutive victory in Meixco, the Citroen C3 handling much better than the 2017 edition and very much to his liking again in Mexico. But Meek was left to rue his choice of two hard tires as back to back wins on the El Chocolate and Ortega stages saw Sordo vault into the lead and dropped Meeke to second, as Loeb established himself in third place on his return to the WRC. But later in the day Sordo saw his lead slashed from over 16 seconds to just under 8 going into Saturday.
Loeb secured his first stage win since Rallye Monte Carlo 2015 on El Chocolate 2, and spins for both Meeke and Toyota driver Ott Tanak aided the Frenchman’s cause. Tanak managed to place himself into third despite his spin and Toyota having to turn off the anti-lag system on its cars, ahead of Meeke and is only 11 seconds behind Sordo so is still very much in the hunt for the victory over the weekend. Meeke meanwhile is 25 seconds back from Sordo so will most likely be looking to reclaim third from Tanak. Sebastien Ogier has had a very quiet run of things so far and lies 25 seconds behind the lead in fifth, feeling that running second on the road has been a major disadvantage for himself. He was lucky however, as the Friday stages gave a lot of the WRC field a real bruising.
Elfyn Evans has withdrawn from the event after co-driver Daniel Barritt suffered a concussion following a high speed roll for the pair on the Ortega stage. Both are fine and the car is driveable, but on medical grounds they have withdrawn from the rest of the event, continuing a miserable 2018 so far for Evans and Barritt. Championship leader Thierry Neuville has suffered both a less of fuel pressure and power steering, and when he tried to fix the former by opening the door to gain access to the fuel bypass valve behind his seat, the door came slamming shut onto his arm and badly bruising it. He sits seventh and with a real mountain to climb ahead of him. The other two Toyota’s of Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala have also had a torrid time. Lappi had an off on SS7 and failed to complete the stage whilst Latvala retired following SS8 when his alternator failed. He will however return for Saturday’s stages.