Toyota Yaris WRC driver Ott Tänak is engaged in a close duel for second place heading into the final day of Rally Mexico. Team-mate Kris Meeke claimed the rally lead in Saturday’s opening test with a stunning stage win, only for a puncture soon afterwards to derail his chances of victory. Jari-Matti Latvala also showed great speed, contributing to Toyota’s five fastest times from the six gravel stages and climbing the leaderboard following his restart.
After a well-managed Friday running first on the road, championship leader Tänak began the day just outside the podium places, but benefited from Meeke’s misfortune on SS11. During the afternoon, Tänak pushed on with two stage wins, reducing his deficit to second position from 22.4 seconds to 2.2s.
Meeke completed the day’s first stage 12 seconds faster than anybody else to surge into the lead on his first gravel rally in the Yaris WRC. His puncture on the next stage however cost him a minute-and-a-half, and caused suspension damage that forced him to drive cautiously through SS12. This left him fifth overall, but he remains on course to score good points towards both championships. After retiring on Friday evening, Latvala restarted and claimed two stage wins in the morning to help him rise from 12th to eighth during the day, with seventh position well within range going into the final day.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Ott has done really well today and shown a great performance from himself and the car to be right up there fighting for second place. I’m sure he will do the best that he can again tomorrow. There’s still a long way to go – 60 kilometres – and we know that in these hard conditions, anything can happen. All three of our cars have been fast and reliable today. It was really unfortunate that Kris got the puncture as soon as he took the lead this morning, but these stages are very rough in places with lots of rocks. He is still in a good place to score some points and so is Jari-Matti, who used his good road position and set some fast stage times, which was important for him after yesterday.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“We’ve had a good day today. In the morning there was still quite a lot of loose gravel on the stages, but we managed to have a clean loop. This afternoon was our opportunity to fight and we managed to take some time back. The surface was constantly changing and the grip was unpredictable, so it wasn’t easy. It looks like it will be interesting tomorrow: We have something to fight for and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Overall, I’m happy with today. Compared to yesterday, the performance was much better. We made some small changes to the car and this helped, particularly coming out of the slow corners. Our total stage times have been close to the leaders so I can be satisfied with that. We are now up to eighth place and I think there is a good chance to get seventh tomorrow if we keep going with the same speed that we had today. I would like to get some Power Stage points too – that will be important for the championship.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“I really enjoyed the first stage this morning, we had really good speed and we took the lead of the rally. Unfortunately, in the second one I picked up a puncture. I decided to continue, which was probably the correct decision in terms of time, but it damaged something in the rear suspension which I had to carry into the next stage. To drop to fifth and have nothing much to fight for was disappointing, but it’s important to hold on to these points and score a strong result for the team.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 2h57m21.4s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +27.0s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +29.2s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m15.7s
5 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4m37.1s
6 Benito Guerra/Jaime Zapata (Skoda Fabia R5) +12m06.0s
7 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson/Fabian Cretu (Skoda Fabia R5) +15m39.6s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +17m32.4s
9 Ricardo Trivino/Marc Marti (Skoda Fabia R5) +21m59.6s1
0 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +21m59.7s
(Results as of 21:30 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com
The final day of Rally Mexico begins with two long stages – Alfaro and Mesa Cuata – which total almost 50 kilometres. They are followed by the rally-ending Power Stage: a repeat of the Las Minas test first run on Friday afternoon.
Key stage: Las Minas, SS21 – Power Stage (10.72 kilometres)
Miikka Anttila (Co-driver car 10): “The beginning of the Power Stage is technical and slow, although it used to be even slower when this stage was longer and started further back. Then we come to a wider and bigger road which is not so technical, and then comes the finish section on the cobblestones going down to the village.”