Kris Meeke leads in the overall standings of Rally Mexico after Friday’s action. The Citroen driver has 20.9sec advantage in front of Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport) and almost a minute (56.7sec) to Thierry Neuville (Hyundai).
The first real day of racing was delayed because of an accident. The convoy, returning the cars from Mexico City, was held up for almost six hours because of an accident, not related to the rally. The transporters and team staff, travelling with them, reached Leon about an hour and a half before the start of SS2. Thus the organizers decided to cancel the first passing of El Chocolate and Las Minas.
In the middle of the afternoon, the competitors were finally able to attack the gravel stages. The leg began with the famous El Chocolate speed test, the rally’s longest stage at 54.9km. Making the most of his tyre choice – which consisted of a mix of soft and hard Michelin LTX Force tyres – and his road position, Kris Meeke produced a flawless performance to record his first stage win in the C3 WRC. He lost a few seconds when he stalled on Las Minas (SS5), but held onto top spot in the overall standings.
“Everything went very well. We clearly had a good road position, but we had to make the most of it. I didn’t push too hard, because winning isn’t my main target for the weekend. My only regret was the minor mistake I made on SS5, which cost us about eight or nine seconds. But it’s good to be running well after a pretty tough start to the season! I’ll be looking keep up the same pace”, Kris said.
— Citroën Racing (@CitroenRacing) 11 March 2017
Kris Meeke: “Winning isn’t my main target for the weekend”
Ogier commented the day was difficult for him and everyone else as well and continued: “But I think we managed it quite well and we can’t complain about being in second place and just 20 seconds off the lead! Almost everyone had temperature issues and it was the same for us. We had to run most of the first stage in safe mode. I tried to be as soft as I could but we didn’t reach a critical point so there is nothing major that we need to be worrying about – but of course we still need to find a solution.”
“We’ll have a good position on the road tomorrow which hasn’t been the case for quite a long time on gravel, so I’m looking forward to that. There are some very demanding stages still to come, and the temperatures could play a crucial role again, but we’ve been working hard with the team so hopefully we’ll have a good solution.”
— Sébastien Ogier (@SebOgier) 11 March 2017
Neuville had some difficulties on the El Chocolate and lost them time early on
He bounced back quickly to remain within sight of the leader. Unfortunately, the Belgian conceded over half a minute on the final stages due to the engine misfire.
“It was a frustrating way to end the day but we have to concentrate on the positives – we made it through despite the problems and we are still inside the top-three. This is very important as we look to fight for a podium this weekend. We will work hard with the team to make sure we get everything working at optimum level for Saturday’s stages. This is an unforgiving rally, particularly for a brand new car. We are still learning things; I just hope that’s our bad luck out of the way for this rally. We’ll have a good road position for Saturday so let’s see what happens”, Thierry said.