Latvala takes lead of Rally Mexico

Jari-Matti Latvala now leads Rally Mexico after Friday's morning loop, ahead of Volkswagen WRC team-mate Sebastien Ogier who'd led the rally after Thursday evening's opening three stages but as first car on the road to run through El Chocolate, the day's longest test at 34-miles. In fact Ogier did rather well to record the third-fastest time on after selecting four soft tyres and one hard for the loop but even so lost the lead to Latvala, who benefited from running seventh on the road and was a full 22 seconds quicker than his French team leader.

Latvala then extended his lead on the following stage, Las Minas, and carries a 21.2s advantage into this evening's loop despite losing a second to Ogier on SS6, the 0.86-mile street stage in Leon - the base for Rally Mexico. Thierry Neuville had started the day second but stopped on SS4 with a broken steering arm with less than 10 miles to run on El Chocolate and instead Hyundai's honour was upheld by Dani Sordo, the Spaniard holding third after setting the second-fastest time on SS4 and now trails Latvala by 33.4s, with a 10.5s margin over the third Volkswagen Polo R WRC of Andreas Mikkelsen, who was fastest on SS6.

M-Sport's Mads Ostberg said his selection of five hard tyres for the loop had been 'one of the biggest mistakes' he had ever made, but he nevertheless ended the morning in fifth a minute-and-a-half down on Latvala. Hayden Paddon made the same choice of tyres and is a further 7.4s back, while Ott Tanak holds a lonely seventh place.

Mexican driver Benito Guerra had been running competitively and was eighth after SS4 but stopped shortly after a jump in the middle of Las Minas and his demise promoted Martin Prokop into the position, the Czech making his first start of the season in Mexico, while Lorenzo Bertelli is ninth. The only other WRC runner still on the leaderboard is Eric Camilli, who has forfeited over six minutes having picked up a puncture on the El Chocolate stage.

Leader Board after SS6:

Pos .... Driver .... Team .... Car .... Gap
1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen Polo 55m28.4s
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen Polo 21.2s
3. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 33.4s
4.Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Volkswagen Polo 43.9s
5. Mads Ostberg M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta 1m28.9s
6. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai i20 1m36.3s
7. Ott Tanak DMACK World Rally Team Ford Fiesta 2m15.3s
8. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta 2m29.5s
9. Lorenzo Bertelli FWRT s.r.l. Ford Fiesta 2m44.6s
10. Nicolas Fuchs Skoda Fabia 2m55.6s

5th March, 2016