Rally Mexico got underway tonight with two stages through the spectacular streets and tunnels of Guanajuato. The team’s championship leader Elfyn Evans was second quickest on both passes to sit second overall overnight, with team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä in sixth and eighth respectively.
This morning, the drivers took part in the pre-event shakedown, giving them the chance to sample their cars in conditions similar to those they will face during the rally. Evans posted the quickest time, with his team-mates also featuring strongly in the standings: Ogier was third and Rovanperä was fourth.
The popular Guanajuato stage was run twice to kick-start this year’s rally, with all three Toyota Yaris WRC drivers making it cleanly through the tricky 1.12-kilometre route. Only four seconds separate Rovanperä in eighth from the rally lead.
Kaj Lindström (Sporting Director)
“It’s good to have all the cars cleanly through these first two stages tonight without any problems, ready for the real challenge to start tomorrow. Shakedown this morning was good for us, the drivers were happy with the car and with the setup. It will be a new situation for Elfyn to be the first car on the road on a Friday, so it was good for him to see in shakedown this morning that he can still set good times.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“It’s always special to be in Guanajuato for the start of this rally and to see the atmosphere there. My feeling this morning was not so good, with the whole situation in the world at the moment, but now I have to get that off my mind and focus on the rally. The car feels good and we have some good feelings, so it should be OK.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It’s always an incredible atmosphere to start this event – there’s no crowd like it. We perhaps don’t get to fully enjoy the ceremony because we have to go straight into two stages, but it’s still a great experience. It was an OK start for me, being second quickest on both stages. In shakedown I had a good feeling from the very first run. The car felt pretty good, so overall I’m happy. It’s a very long and tough event so we have to try and give our best effort and try and keep out of trouble.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“This is always a special stage to start here in Mexico, it’s a tricky one in the tunnels. The second pass was better – I just needed to do that on the first pass! In shakedown the car felt really good, and the setup was really good following our pre-event test. The feeling was nice, and it’s nice to be back on gravel. I don’t have so much experience on gravel in this car, but it’s a good surface for me and the feeling will get better all the time. For me there will be many challenges this weekend, but my focus is just to drive without any mistakes as the stages are really technical.”
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1m56.6s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.1s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.9s
4 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2.0s
5 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.3s
6 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.5s
7 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4.0s
8 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.0s
9 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4.6s
10 Oliver Solberg/Aaron Johnston (Volkswagen Polo R5) +6.4s
(Results as of 21:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The first full day of the rally consists of 10 stages in total. A loop of three stages – El Chocolate, Ortega and Las Minas – in the mountains around Guanajuato are each run twice. A new short stage at Parque Bicentenario rounds out the morning, while the day is completed by two passes of the León racing circuit test and a brief blast through the city streets.
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