WRC Rally Mexico: Sebastien Loeb closes on Dani Sordo for lead

Hyundai's Dani Sordo saw his Rally Mexico lead reduced to just under eight seconds as World Rally Championship returnee Sebastien Loeb claimed two stage wins in a dramatic afternoon loop

WRC Rally Mexico: Sebastien Loeb closes on Dani Sordo for lead

Nine-time world champion Loeb secured his first stage victory since Monte Carlo in 2015 by setting the fastest time on SS7 (El Chocolate 2) before doubling up on the second pass through Ortega.

The Frenchman jumped both Citroen team-mate Kris Meeke, who suffered spins on both SS7 and SS8, and Ott Tanak to lie just 7.5s off Sordo heading into day two.

The afternoon's stages were a punishing test for the WRC field, with a number of leading runners hitting trouble.

Elfyn Evans withdrew from the event after co-driver Daniel Barritt suffered a concussion in a high-speed accident on the first run of Ortega. The M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC was driveable after the sizeable incident but the pair pulled out on safety grounds.

Toyota endured a miserable day despite Tanak taking the fight to Loeb and Sordo with victory on the SS9 superspecial as night fell. High engine temperatures forced the team to switch off its Anti-Lag System (ALS), resulting in a significant loss in power for its drivers.

Esapekka Lappi had an off on SS7 and failed to complete the stage while team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala fared little better, retiring on the road section after his alternator failed following SS8. Latvala will return for Saturday's stages.

There was also drama for championship leader Thierry Neuville. He suffered a loss of fuel pressure in his Hyundai i20 prior to SS5, the Leon street stage. Neuville tried to remedy the issue by opening the door to gain access to the fuel bypass valve behind his seat, but the door slammed shut on the Belgian's arm, causing bruising.

A further loss of power steering on SS8 means Neuville lies in eighth place and faces an early starting position on day two.

Out front Sordo - running 10th on the road - continued to put in fast stages times to extend his advantage over first Meeke and then Tanak.

Loeb and Tanak's stage wins bring them to within 7.5s and 11s respectively of the Hyundai driver.

Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen were in a fight of their own in the afternoon, with the pair swapping fifth and sixth positions on three successive stages between SS6 and SS8.

Ogier, courtesy of his SS10 win at the Leon Autodromo, holds a 1.5s lead over the Norwegian.

With Evans already out and the team's third driver Teemu Suninen also crashing on SS7, Ogier is M-Sport's only realistic chance of points from Mexico.

In WRC2, Swede Pontus Tidemand made the most of problems for almost all his rivals and holds a 3m38.3s lead over Brit Guss Greensmith in second.

Leading positions after SS10

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 1h47m55.4s
2 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 7.2s
3 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 11.0s
4 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 25.0s
5 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 30.2s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 31.7s
7 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2m01.9s
8 Pontus Tidemand, J.Andersson Skoda Motorsport Skoda 5m05.6s
9 Gus Greensmith, C.Parry Ford 8m13.0s
10 Pedro Heller, P.Olmos Ford 12m33.8s

shares
comments
Elfyn Evans forced out of Rally Mexico due to co-driver concussion

Previous article

Elfyn Evans forced out of Rally Mexico due to co-driver concussion

Next article

WRC Rally Mexico: Toyota retires Ott Tanak after engine issues

WRC Rally Mexico: Toyota retires Ott Tanak after engine issues
Load comments

About this article

Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Dani Sordo
Author Stephen Brunsdon
Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished Plus

Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished

The WRC's support categories are in a process of streamlining that will spell the end of a formalised 2WD world championship-level category. While its relevance to the top level has been questioned for some time, that doesn't mean it should be swept quietly under the carpet

WRC
Apr 5, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Plus

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Plus

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate

WRC
Mar 1, 2021
What to expect from the WRC's venture to the Arctic Plus

What to expect from the WRC's venture to the Arctic

This week's Arctic Rally Finland will bring the World Rally Championship into new territory. And, almost without exception, the service park can't wait for the subzero challenge to commence

WRC
Feb 25, 2021
How Ogier achieved a fitting Monte Carlo farewell Plus

How Ogier achieved a fitting Monte Carlo farewell

Against pandemic-shaped odds, the World Rally Championship season opener went ahead in Monte Carlo last weekend as a familiar face again took top spot. But for an emotional Sebastien Ogier, his record-breaking eighth win meant more than most

WRC
Jan 25, 2021
What to look out for in the 2021 WRC Plus

What to look out for in the 2021 WRC

As the 2021 World Rally Championship prepares to launch amid tight COVID-19 restrictions in Monte Carlo, here are the eight things unrelated to the pandemic that you should keep an eye on this year

WRC
Jan 21, 2021
Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021 Plus

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

He came close to the title last year, and now Toyota's Elfyn Evans gives his verdict on what to expect from 2021 as the World Rally Championship prepares to reconvene for the Monte Carlo season opener

WRC
Jan 20, 2021
Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call Plus

Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call

OPINION: With Rally GB dropping off the World Rally Championship calendar for the second year in a row, one of Britain's best-attended sporting events faces an uncertain future. It's an unfortunate situation that points to troubling times ahead

WRC
Jan 12, 2021