GUANAJUATO, Mexico: Jari-Matti Latvala pushed world champion and Volkswagen teammate Sebastien Ogier into second spot in the Rally of Mexico on Friday (Saturday in Manila), making the most of the Frenchman having to “sweep” the dusty roads.
Latvala had a 32.1-second advantage over Ogier after the day’s 10 stages and was was 1 min 15.6 seconds to the good over Spain’s Dani Sordo in a Hyundai.
It was a welcome boost for Latvala, who has yet to score a point in the opening two rounds of this year’s championship in Monte Carlo and Sweden, where Ogier claimed back-to-back wins.
On Friday, Ogier, racing in his 100th event, had admitted he was facing a damage limitation exercise having to open proceedings on the dust-choked Mexican tracks.
“I did what I could, but from first on the road I had no grip. With hard tires it would have been even worse,” said Ogier.
By contrast, Latvala had the better conditions starting from eighth place.
“The conditions weren’t easy, quite slippery. I didn’t know how I was driving but I have an advantage with the road position, that’s clear to see,” said Latvala
The rally’s first victim proved to be Belgium’s Thierry Neu¬ville, who had been second behind Ogier after Thursday’s super-special stage.
His Hyundai suffered a broken suspension on the fourth stage after hitting a bank and was forced to retire.