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2012-03-11 06:10

OVER - AND OUT: Brazilian Paulo Nobre checks his upturned Mini JCW WRC after crashing out on Day 1 of the Mexico leg of the 2012 World Rally championship. Image: AFP

Leon, Mexico - World champion Sebastien Loeb was leading Citroen team mate Mikko Hirvonen by 18.2sec at the mid-way point of Saturday's action in the 2011 Rally of Mexico.

Team chief Yves Matton said his drivers “would not be handcuffed” by team orders during the rest of the event and would be allowed to compete freely.


"The aim is for our cars to finish in the top two positions," he emphasised. "Our crews will continue to drive freely, because we reckon that Jari-Matti Latvala's pace may be enough to pose a threat to at least one of our cars.

"For the time being, the only instruction given to the drivers, as such, is: 'Get to the finish without making any mistakes’.”

Latvala, in a factory Ford Focus, was 1min25.6 behind Frenchman Loeb; a legacy of losing vital time on Friday when his suspension was shattered by a rock.

"I need to keep the pressure on and they have to keep concentrating. That's the only thing I can do," said Latvala, with nine stages still to run before Sunday's finish.

Rally of Mexico results on Saturday after opening two stages
1 Sebastien Loeb (FRA/Citröen DS3) 2hr13min15.5
2 Mikko Hirvonen (FIN/Citröen DS3) +18.2sec
3 Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS) +1min25.6
4 Mads Ostberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) +2min00.6
5 Petter Solberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) +2min09.9
6 Ott Tanak (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) +2min42.7
7 Evgeny Novikov (RUS/Ford Fiesta RS) +3min41.1
8 Chris Atkinson (AUS/Ford DS3) +4min22.3
9 Nasser al-Attiyah (QAT/Citroën DS3) +4min43.9
10 Armindo Araujo (POR/Mini) +6min51.4

Overall stage winners: P Solberg 1 (1), Hirvonen 2 (2), Latvala 5 (3, 6, 7, 8, 13), Loeb 4 (4, 5, 10, 14), Al-Attiyah 1 (11), Atkinson 1 (12).


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