Sebastien Loeb pulls away in Mexico as Jari-Matti Latvala loses more time
|Saturday, March 10th 2012, 19:38 GMT|
Sebastien Loeb continues to lead in Mexico, while an impact with a rock further dented Jari-Matti Latvala's remote hopes of getting back in victory contention.
Despite a string of stage wins, Latvala was not gaining on the leading Citroens quickly enough to suggest he could rejoin the lead battle after his costly suspension damage on Friday. The Finn then lost another 50 seconds when he broke a wheel hitting a rock early on SS15 this afternoon, forcing him to drive 25 kilometres on a punctured front tyre.
That dropped Latvala from fourth to third, and though he regained the final podium spot from Ford team-mate Petter Solberg by winning the following Otates stage, he is now 2m09.8s off the lead.
Loeb has also continued to pull clear of Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen up front, with his lead now standing at 28.7s.
Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford) has now fallen behind both works Fords to fifth.
Ott Tanak also damaged a tyre on a rock on the same stage as Latvala, but managed to hang on to sixth - albeit now only a few seconds ahead of M-Sport Ford team-mate Evgeny Novikov.
Chris Atkinson's World Rally Championship return came to an unusual end - at least for leg two - when he crashed at the end of Otates. The Monster Ford driver completed the stage but went off at the bend after the flying finish.
The Australian's exit will move Sebastien Ogier into the overall top 10 in his Volkswagen-run Super 2000 Skoda.
Leading positions after SS16: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h01m10.9s 2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 28.7s 3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 2m09.8s 4. Petter Solberg Ford + 2m22.1s 5. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 2m35.0s 6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 4m11.8s 7. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 4m17.6s 8. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Citroen + 5m39.9s 9. Chris Atkinson Monster Ford + 5m42.9s 10. Armindo Araujo Portugal Mini + 9m03.4s