Rivals not only crash out but will rejoin to run ahead of the World Champion tomorrow to make his life even easier.
Sebastien Ogier might not have a commanding lead in the overall times on Rally Mexico, but his rivals have made things a lot easier for him in more ways than one.
Not only did four of his chief rivals in the WRC’s top class suffer accidents, at least three of them are likely to rejoin tomorrow under Rally2 rules – which mean they will run ahead of him on the road, and effectively clean the gravel surface for him to allow him to drive even faster.
Before the event, Ogier claimed it was impossible for him to win due to running first on the road for the two longest days of the event.
However, Ogier won two of the day’s stages, having led the event overnight after two superspecial stages.
Citroen’s Kris Meeke won the day’s opener, but promptly crashed on the next test as he was poised to challenge for the lead – he will restart tomorrow.
It was on the Los Mexicanos opener that Ott Tanak broke the right-front suspension on a compression that sent his car veering off the road and somersaulting into the adjacent lake. He and co-driver Raigo Molder had to swim for their lives as their M-Sport Fiesta sank to the depths.
Amazingly, M-Sport have launched a rescue bid to recover the car from the bottom of the lake and try to fix it for tomorrow – something they have hashtagged #TiTanak on Twitter!
Robert Kubica was poised to grab the lead on SS4, but hit a bank and damaged his Fiesta’s steering. When that broke further on in the stage, it sent him into another bank and rolled the car. He will also rejoin tomorrow.
Thierry Neuville won SS5 for Hyundai, but as he was vying for the overall lead with Ogier, he too hit a bank and rolled near the end of the following stage. Again, he is also expected to restart.
With only the short superspecial remaining on Friday, Ogier holds a 10.9s lead over VW Polo teammate Jari-Matti Latvala, who really struggled to keep up despite a clear advantage in the running order.
Mads Ostberg is third for Citroen, ahead of the third Polo of Andreas Mikkelsen. Elfyn Evans has kept a cool head to run fifth for M-Sport, almost a minute down, with Hyundai's Dani Sordo suffering numerous delays but keeping it on the road in sixth.