Wheels24

Can Loeb win Mexico yet again?

2012-03-11 11:54

Leon, Mexico - World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb was on course to win the 2012 Rally of Mexico for the sixth consecutive time after finishing Day 2 last night with a 36.2sec lead over Citroen team mate Mikko Hirvonen.

The French driver extended his lead throughout the Saturday’s stages which were driven in blistering temperatures that didn't deter thousands of fans.

He won the nearly 42km stage 14 in which Hirvonen settled for third behind Jari-Matti Latvala, more than nine seconds off the lead.

'COMFORTABLE SITUATION'

Four stages remain today (Sunday), one of them the 54.30km Guanajuatito stage that Loeb cautioned could still prove decisive.

The eight-times World champion added: "Now we have a good and comfortable situation but there is still a long way to go and a 54km stage - nothing is done.

"It’s a rally in which I’ve had a lot of success and I hope that continues on Sunday."

Behind second-placed Hirvonen, Latvala was in third place for the factory Ford team. His hopes of catching the Citroens faded with a puncture on stage 15, though he came back with a series of quick stages to keep a podium place within reach.

"It’s really good to see our car is very competitive," Latvala said. "Without the problems we’ve had, things could have been really good."

SPIN 'N A STALL

Latvala's Ford team mate Petter Solberg overcame brake problems on Saturday morning to move ahead of fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg. He was fourth at the end of the day with Ostberg fifth and Estonian Ott Tanak impressing in sixth.

Tanak was hindered by a spin and a stall on stage 14 and a puncture on stage 15. His M-Sport Russian team mate Evgeny Novikov was forced out of the race when he ripped a wheel off his Fiesta on the final stage.

That moved Qatar's Nasser al-Attiyah up to seventh overall.

Australian Chris Atkinson was in eighth place when a loss of brakes led to a crash. He was expected to restart under Rally 2 rules on Sunday.

2012 Rally of Mexico results on Saturday
1 Sebastien Loeb (FRA/Citroen DS3) 3hrs25mins17
2 Mikko Hirvonen (FIN/Citroen DS3) +36.2
3 Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS) +1min53.0
4 Petter Solberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) +2min10.9
5 Mads Ostberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) +2min44.2
6 Ott Tanak (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) +4min22.1
7 Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT/Citroen DS3) +6min00.8
8 Armindo Araujo (POR/Mini) +10min42.1
9 Sebastien Ogier (FRA/Skoda Fabia 2000) +12min02.7
10 Ken Block (USA/Ford Fiesta) +13min51.8

Stage winners: P. Solberg 1 (1), Hirvonen 1 (2), Latvala 8 (3, 6, 7, 8, 13, 16, 17, 20), Loeb 6 (4, 5, 10, 14, 15, 18), Al-Attiyah 1 (11), Atkinson 1 (12). Stage 9 was cancelled so stage 19 combined with 18.  

 

AFP