The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has two cars in the top four positions following the first full day of Rally Mexico’s highly-demanding gravel stages. Kris Meeke is in third overall, just ahead of team-mate Ott Tänak. Jari-Matti Latvala was in a top-four place before having to retire near the end of the day, but will restart tomorrow.
Meeke enjoyed a strong first day of competition on gravel in the Yaris WRC, gradually moving up the leaderboard as others hit difficulties in the high altitude and hot temperatures. He ended the day within 6.3 seconds of second place.
Running first on the road on a Friday as championship leader for the first time in his WRC career, Tänak was faced with having to sweep the stages clear of loose gravel for those behind. He managed the situation well however, with an impressive stage win on SS7 and another on SS9 helping him to climb to fourth overall and gain an improved road position for tomorrow.
Latvala was also moving up the overall standings during the day before an electrical issue prevented him from taking part in the two runs over a super special that ended the day. He will restart tomorrow morning with a points finish still within his sights.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It has been a good day for us, except for the problem with Jari-Matti’s car. We still need to find out exactly what happened, but in the end he had to retire with a lack of electrical power. Kris did a good day and I’m sure that tomorrow will be easier for him as he gets to know our car a bit better in these conditions. It was hard for Ott today with the conditions he had running first on the road, but I think he handled it well and at the end of the day he is in a good position for tomorrow. There is still a long way to go but we are feeling confident of a good result.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“I think we had a good day today. I did everything I could, I couldn’t have done much more. I had a good feeling in the car all day, so it was quite enjoyable and I had the confidence to push hard. During the afternoon I had a few moments, so we were driving on the limit. Our road position for tomorrow could have been better, because it was set before we gained a place in the super special, but at least the conditions will be more equal with the drivers we are fighting. The gap to second place is not so big and I believe we will have a chance to get it.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
”I started too cautiously in the first stage this morning but then I started to get the rhythm and the car was working really well. It was getting better during the afternoon and we were up to fourth place. Unfortunately, the alternator stopped charging. We managed to do two more stages and the road section but we couldn’t do the last two super specials. It is frustrating for this to happen, but this is how things go in motorsport sometimes. We just need to look forward and keep fighting for the rest of the weekend.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“I’m quite happy tonight to be in third place at the end of my first day on gravel in this car. We were missing a bit to match the speed of the leader, but we had no dramas and the car has been perfect for me technically. We had a lot of dust get inside at times which made it hard to see, but the car has been performing well. Tomorrow is a long day with tricky stages and demanding roads again. We are not far away from second place and we’ll have a better road position than we did today, so let’s see what we can do.”
End of day two (Friday):
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 1h18m33.8s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +14.8s
3 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +21.1s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +37.1s
5 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +39.1s
6 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m00.7s
7 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson/Fabian Cretu (Skoda Fabia R5) +5m16.1s
8 Benito Guerra/Jaime Zapata (Skoda Fabia R5) +5m25.9s
9 Alberto Heller/Jose Diaz (Ford Fiesta R5) +6m31.5s
10 Ricardo Trivino/Marc Marti (Skoda Fabia R5) +9m07.2s
12 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14m28.2s
(Results as of 21:30 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Saturday features a loop of three stages – Guanujuatito, Otates and El Brinco – each run twice either side of mid-day service. The day ends with two more passes of the Autodromo super special and a further blast around the León street stage.
El Brinco, SS12 & SS15 (8.13 kilometres)
Miikka Anttila (Co-driver car 10):
“This year there is a completely new end to this stage, on a road made especially for the rally. As a result, it will probably collapse quite badly and big ruts will form, so it’s going to be a challenging end to the loop of mountain stages. The finish is quite spectacular with a jump at the flying finish.”
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