MADS ØSTBERG SETS HIS SIGHTS ON SECOND PLACE
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson remained among the frontrunners at Rally Mexico on day two.The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Nordic crew will begin tomorrow’s final leg in second place overall.After rejoining this morning under Rally 2 regulations, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle added to their experience on gravel in the DS 3 WRC.There were tricky sections almost around every corner on day two of Rally Mexico. And although Mads Østberg was quick on the two runs on Ibarrilla (30 kilometres) and Otates (42 kilometres), the Norwegian span on El Brinco, the stage broadcast live on television.
For the other competitors, the event was just as difficult as ever. Jari-Matti Latvala threw in the towel at the end of SS12, handing second place to Mads Østberg. The Norwegian consolidated his position with the fastest time on SS16 to defend his position and hold off his fellow countryman Andreas Mikkelsen.
There are three stages left to contest tomorrow, including Guanajuatito and its 55.82 kilometres. Second-placed Mads finds himself involved again in a head-to-head battle with a Norwegian. He’ll start the final leg with a slender 4.5-second advantage over Mikkelsen!
Having gone off yesterday, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle were able to rejoin the rally this morning after work was performed by the technical team. Running third on the road, the British driver had to sweep the roads and continued to learn about Rally Mexico. Despite incurring 49 minutes of penalties, he remains in a position to score a few points for the manufacturers’ championship.
Ninth in the WRC2 standings after the first leg, Stéphane Lefebvre added to his experience today. After racking up several top-five times in the category, the young Frenchman’s progress was halted on SS16 when he rolled his car at low speed.
The final day of Rally Mexico features just three stages. Parc ferme opens at 9.00am, with the 55.82km monster, Guanajuatito, first up for the crews. With no service, they will then head for Derramadero (11.59km) and El Brinco (8.25 km), which will also serve as the Power Stage, televised live from 12.08pm. The podium ceremony is due to start at 2.30pm.
QUOTE, UNQUOTEMads Østberg: “Everything’s going well. We lost a bit of time with a spin this morning, but our pace has been good throughout the day. We have to stay focussed on the job in hand and maintain the same rhythm until the end. I feel comfortable in the DS 3 WRC. It’ll be a good fight with Andreas, bearing in mind, of course, that we must make it to the end of the rally.”
Kris Meeke: “We knew that today’s leg was going to be very difficult for the early starters. Unfortunately, after rejoining under Rally 2 rules, our road position meant we’d be sweeping the loose gravel. The goal is to make it to the finish, nothing more. We can no longer fight for a position in the overall standings, we just need to concentrate on scoring points for the manufacturers’ championship.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDEDSS11 – Ibarrilla 1 (30.27km) – The organisers opted to start the day with one of the most daunting stages for the drivers. Mads Østberg, who had experienced a series of misfortunes on this test in recent years, was relieved to make it to the finish. He set the third fastest time, behind Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. Running third on the road, Kris Meeke had more difficult conditions and had to content himself with ninth place.
SS12 – Otates 1 (42.90km) – Jari-Matti Latvala ended the stage with a broken suspension and was forced to retire. Mads Østberg inherited second position thanks to a second fastest time on the stage, just behind Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke set the seventh fastest time.
SS13 – El Brinco 1 (8.25km) – At the end of the televised stage, the fastest time went to Dani Sordo. Mads Østberg finished 18.3 seconds back after spinning on the first corner. Kris Meeke finished eighth, as he gradually moved back up the standings.
SS14 – Street Stage León 2 (1.37km) – The second pass on this test located right next to the service park saw Robert Kubica top the timesheets. The top seven, which included Mads Østberg, were separated by just 0.3 seconds.
SS15 – Ibarrilla 2 (30.27km) – After the midday service, the crews tackled the same course as in the morning, but with better grip conditions. Behind Sébastien Ogier, still overall leader, a head-to-head battle was shaping up between the Norwegians, Mads Østberg and Andreas Mikkelsen. Advantage Mikkelsen on this stage. He closed to within 4.9 seconds of his compatriot.
SS16 – Otates 2 (42.90km) – Fastest time for Mads Østberg on this long test. In finishing ahead of Mikkelsen, he extended the gap to six seconds. Kris Meeke set the seventh fastest time.
SS17 – El Brinco 2 (8.25km) – Second run on the stage which will be used for the Power Stage tomorrow. Sébastien Ogier went fastest, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg. Kris Meeke ended the test in fifth place.
SS18 – Super Special 3 (4.60km) – Andreas Mikkelsen claimed the fastest time on the day’s final stage to cut Mads Østberg’s lead in second place to just 4.5 seconds. Sébastien Ogier remained more than a minute clear at the front.
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 21. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:33:27.42. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:15.23. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:19.74. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:28.65. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:10.66. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:39.67. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Matthieu Baumel (Ford Fiesta RRC) +10:43.98. Nicolas Fuchs / Fernando Musano (Ford Fiesta R5) +18:34.59. Jari Ketomaa / Kaj Lindtröm (Ford Fiesta R5) +19:39.510. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari / Marshall Clarke (Ford Fiesta RRC) +19:49.1…
Sébastien Ogier, 8 – Mads Østberg, Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala, 2 – Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen, Dani Sordo and Robert Kubica, 1.
SS1: Thierry Neuville
SS2 to SS18: Sébastien Ogier