Tyre gamble key to Sebastien Ogier's WRC Rally Mexico win hopes

Sebastien Ogier is ready to gamble on tyre choice in an effort to take what would be the toughest win of his World Rally Championship career in Mexico

Tyre gamble key to Sebastien Ogier's WRC Rally Mexico win hopes

The WRC leader will run first on the road for the first two full days of competition in Leon, sweeping the loose gravel clean for 188 miles.

Though unbeaten in Mexico since 2013 - including a surprise win from first on the road last year, most in the service park expect Ogier's winning run to end this weekend.

In 2015 he benefited from a very high number of day one retirements returning under Rally 2 and running ahead of him for the second day, while this year the much longer stages are also expected to hurt him more.

In an effort to find an advantage, Ogier is likely to try running a softer tyre for the opening loop of stages on Friday.

All the drivers played with various tyre strategies on Thursday's pre-event shakedown, but Ogier said the results remained inconclusive.

"The trouble is the stages are much longer," he told Autosport.

"Many drivers want to try something with the tyres, but nobody is sure what is the best way.

"I know if I take full hard [tyres] then it's going to be a big, big disadvantage to open the road.

"Last year I managed to compensate a little bit, but at the same time I don't want to take a stupid gamble.

"I have some data and some ideas already, but I cannot tell you too much."

Overnight temperatures in Leon have been dropping to single figures, but by mid-morning the ambient is mid-20s.

Ogier's engineer Gerard Jan de Jongh told Autosport: "I think there is something to be done with the tyres.

"We have some ideas and we have some ideas of what the weather's going to do. But we're not about to tell you about either!"

Ogier's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala starts in prime position, seven places back on the road.

The Finn said he could see the potential for running two soft tyres on the 33-mile El Chocolate opener.

"I don't think you could get away with four softs," Latvala said, "That would be too much."

Shakedown was won by the third Polo R WRC of Andreas Mikkelsen, who starts second on the road behind Ogier.

"I don't think the road will be as bad as it has [been in the past]," he suggested.

"It looked a little bit cleaner during the recce."

Ogier leads the rally overnight following Thursday evening's three short spectator stages.

Follow Rally Mexico's monster opening day as it happens with Autosport Race Centre Live from 3pm UK time

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WRC Rally Mexico: Sebastien Ogier leads after Thursday night

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