Mexico WRC: Ogier takes command after first loop of stages
Six-time World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier put his stamp on Rally Mexico with an assured first loop of stages in the mountains outside Guanajuato on Friday morning.
Having admitted to being preoccupied by the threat of Coronavirus ahead of the event, Ogier delivered on his promise to banish such thoughts on the first full day and his Toyota Yaris holds a nine-second lead at the lunchtime service halt.
The day began with Hyundai's Thierry Neuville holding a 1.1s lead over Toyota's British ace Elfyn Evans.
As joint championship leaders, however, this gave them the unfavourable position of running first and second on the road and sweeping the roughest gravel aside for those behind them.
The first man to capitalise upon his better road position was defending world champion Ott Tanak, who charged from third to first on the famous 31km El Chocolate stage that started this morning's action.
However, Hyundai's Estonian driver then dropped nearly a minute on the next stage after running wide and damaging the rear of his car, allowing Ogier through to lead.
On the third stage of the morning it was the third Hyundai of Dani Sordo who set fastest time, less than a second in front of Tanak.
Unfortunately for the Spaniard, who started as a favourite for the event, he is having to try and claw back more than five minutes lost after his radiator came loose on El Chocolate.
Ogier retained the overall lead and was able to add a little more to the cushion back to his nearest pursuer, M-Sport's Teemu Suninen.
Neuville and Evans asserted themselves to claim first and second-fastest times coming back out of the mountains to close the loop in the Parque Bicentenario, with Ogier in third.
Heading out for the second loop, the consistency of Ogier, Sunninen and M-Sport's other Finnish driver Esapekka Lappi, currently fourth, has served them well.
Some impressive damage limitation by Neuville in third and Evans in fifth keeps them within striking distance over the rest of the event, while Tanak and Sordo, in seventh and 15th respectively, have an extra mountain to climb over the next two days.
Rally Argentina postponed due to coronavirus pandemic
Mexico WRC: Ogier stretches lead, Hyundai hits trouble