Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Yaris Rally1) finished the third day of the Rally Mexico as the leader. The Frenchman took the lead when Esapekka Lappi (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) crashed into a power pole and was forced to retire. Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris Rally1) follows in second at 35.8 seconds. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) is third, 40.1 seconds behind the leader and just 4.3 seconds behind second place Evans. World champion Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris Rally1) follows fourth, 53.9 seconds off the podium.
On Saturday morning, the intense duel between leader Lappi and first pursuer Ogier came to a brutal end. After ten kilometers in the opening stage, Lappi made a mistake at high speed and collided with the rear of the car against a power pole. End of story for Lappi who even had to carry out fire extinguishing work on his Hyundai. Together with his co-pilot, he emerged unscathed from the heavy crash in which the electricity pole broke off and came to lie across the road. The ride was immediately stopped and the second passage would also not be driven due to the clean-up work.
With a lead of 35.8 seconds, Ogier started to control the rally. The Frenchman won two classification stages on Saturday and ended the day with exactly the same lead as after the first classification stage. With 35.8 seconds behind, Evans seems to be out for the overall victory, although it is always necessary to keep a close eye on the challenging and with its 35.63 km long classification stage of Otates, which the drivers will have to deal with on Sunday morning.
“I think we have a nice lead,” said Ogier at the finish. “We can look back on a strong day. After the Lappi crash, we changed our approach. We didn’t have to take too many risks and still managed to increase our lead. Sunday will be another long day. We cannot afford to relax.” The part-time Toyota driver can take his second win of the season, his seventh in the Rally Mexico.
Elfyn Evans should rather look back and fear for his second place. On Friday evening, the difference between Evans and first pursuer Neuville was 9.7 seconds. On Saturday evening, that was more than halved at 4.3 seconds. Neuville won three consecutive classification stages on Saturday morning and added one more stage victory on Saturday afternoon. A strong afternoon from the Belgian who collided with a very tough Evans who put up a lot of resistance and will do the same on Sunday.
Kalle Rovanperä is fourth and follows at 53.9 seconds from the podium. He himself is 47.2 seconds ahead of first pursuer Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20 N Rally1), who is fifth.
Four more classification stages will be driven on Sunday. The Rally of Mexico ends around 8:25 pm Belgian time.