WRC Rally Mexico: Ogier leads after timing confusion and Meeke delay

Sebastien Ogier survived a chaotic morning to emerge in the lead of Rally Mexico, the Citroen man retaking first place after briefly falling behind Kris Meeke

World Rally champion Ogier's team-mate Esapekka Lappi triggered a red flag on the morning's opening Guanajuatito stage when he ran wide and went backwards off the road, his Citroen C3 becoming beached on a ledge and unable to move.

Meeke subsequently went fastest as the next car through, with Elfyn Evans behind him second fastest.

Running behind the pair, rally leader Ogier picked up a front right puncture and was slowing.

But shortly afterwards the red flag was deployed due to Lappi's stranded car partially blocking the road.

That meant Ogier finished the stage at reduced speed, leaving organisers to work out how to award him a notional time.

This would usually be based on another car's time on the stage, but the situation was complicated by Ogier's puncture meaning he was already slowing before the red flag.

The organisers eventually decided to give Ogier a time 22.4s slower than Meeke's effort, which demoted the Citroen to second behind the Toyota driver.

But Ogier picked up the lead again only one stage later, with Meeke suffering a rear right puncture early on Otates.

Meeke dropped 1m36.6s to Ogier and fell behind Thierry Neuville into fifth position.

Further damage had been sustained to the suspension upright on Meeke's Yaris from the puncture, forcing him to cruise through the loop-ending El Brinco test and lose a further 1m45.9s. He is now fifth, 2m01.7s off Neuville ahead.

Evans had gained 10.3s on Ogier via the champion's notional time on Guanajuatito but lost it all on Otates, going 11s slower than the Frenchman.

A shared stage win for Ogier on the El Brinco stage extended that gap further, with the lead rivals now separated by 19.2s at midday service.

There is still the possibility that Ogier's time will change, with the organisers' statement announcing the notional times "are subject to being reviewed" after Guanajuatito is run again in the afternoon.

Meeke's Otates drama promoted his Toyota team-mate and championship leader Ott Tanak to the final podium position, 41s adrift of the lead in third position.

Tanak has 38.5s in hand over fourth-placed Neuville heading to midday service.

Behind Meeke, Benito Guerra moved into sixth overall and back into the lead of WRC2, making up 22.3s on fellow Skoda Fabia R5 runner Marco Bulacia Wilkinson during the morning.

Guerra had briefly led the class on his home event on Friday morning before Bolivian teenager Bulacia Wilkinson pulled out a 9.8s gap on Friday afternoon, but has now re-established an advantage of 12.5s over his chief rival.

Alberto Heller is eighth overall and third in WRC2, with local entrant Ricardo Trivino in ninth.

Rally2 returnee Jari-Matti Latvala took a 1m40s penalty by starting out of position this morning, electing to check in to the Guanajuatito stage as the last WRC car behind rally leader Ogier.

Starting the day 12th after his retirement late on Friday, Latvala is already up to 10th, winning Otates outright and tying with Ogier on El Brinco to pass local entrant Ricardo Cordero's R5-specification Citroen DS3.

Hyundai pair Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen had both been in the lead battle on Friday before retiring, Sordo with an electrical failure and Mikkelsen with broken suspension. They returned under Rally2 rules for Saturday and are now 11th and 16th respectively.

The only drama for either came when Sordo damaged the left rear of his i20 and subsequently overshot a junction late on the El Brinco stage, losing a few seconds.

Leading positions after SS12

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Citroen Total WRT Citroen 2h06m04.9s
2 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 19.2s
3 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 41.0s
4 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 1m19.5s
5 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 3m21.2s
6 Benito Guerra, J.Zapata Benito Guerra jr. Skoda 8m13.0s
7 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson, F.Cretu Marco Bulacia Wilkinson Skoda 8m25.5s
8 Alberto Heller, J.L.Diaz Alberto Heller Ford 12m55.0s
9 Ricardo Trivino, M.Marti Ricardo Trivino Skoda 15m49.1s
10 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 16m27.6s


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