Mexico WRC: Loeb cuts Sordo's lead on afternoon loop

Hyundai's Dani Sordo saw his Rally Mexico lead reduced to just under eight seconds as WRC returnee Sebastien Loeb claimed two stage wins in a dramatic afternoon loop.

Mexico WRC: Loeb cuts Sordo's lead on afternoon loop
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Gus Greensmith, Craig Parry, Ford Fiesta R5
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC
Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Nine-time world champion Loeb secured his first stage victory since Monte Carlo in 2015 by setting the fastest time on SS7 (El Chocolate 2) before doubling up in the second pass through Ortega (SS8).

The Frenchman jumped both Citroen teammate Kris Meeke, who suffered spins on both SS7 and SS8, and Ott Tanak to lie just 7.5s off Sordo heading into day two.

The afternoon's stages were a punishing test on both car and machine, with a number of leading runners hitting trouble.

Elfyn Evans withdrew from the event after co-driver Daniel Barritt suffered a concussion following a high-speed accident in SS4 (Ortega 1). The M-Sport Ford WRC was driveable after the sizeable incident but the pair pulled out on safety grounds.

Toyota endured a miserable day despite Tanak taking the fight to Loeb and Sordo with victory in the SS9 Super Special as night fell. High engine temperatures forced the team to switch off its Anti-Lag System (ALS), resulting in a significant loss in power for its drivers.

Esapekka Lappi had an off on SS7 and failed to complete the stage while teammate Jari-Matti Latvala fared little better, retiring on the road section after his alternator failed following SS8. Latvala will return for Saturday's stages.

There was also drama for championship leader Thierry Neuville. He suffered a loss of fuel pressure in his Hyundai prior to SS5 (Street Stage Leon).

Neuville tried to remedy the issue by opening the door to gain access to the fuel bypass valve behind his seat, but the door slammed shut on the Belgian's arm, causing bruising.

A further loss of power steering in SS8 means Neuville lies in eighth place and faces an early starting position on day two.

Out front Sordo - running 10th on the road - continued to put in fast stages times to extend his advantage over first Meeke and then Tanak.

Loeb and Tanak's stage wins bring them to within 7.5s and 11s respectively of the Hyundai driver.

Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen were in a fight of their own in the afternoon, with the pair swapping fifth and sixth positions in three successive stages between SS6 and SS8. 

Ogier, courtesy of his SS10 win at the Autodromo, holds a 1.5s lead over the Norwegian.

With Evans already out and the team's third driver Teemu Suninen also crashing on SS7, Ogier remains M-Sport's only realistic chance of points from Mexico come Sunday.

In WRC2, Swede Pontus Tidemand made the most of problems for almost all his rivals and holds a 3m38.3 lead over Brit Guss Greensmith in second.

Stephen Brunsdon 

shares
comments
Evans’ co-driver hospitalised after high-speed roll

Previous article

Evans’ co-driver hospitalised after high-speed roll

Next article

Mexico WRC: Loeb steals lead from Sordo

Mexico WRC: Loeb steals lead from Sordo
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Prime

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Prime

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Prime

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up.

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
Why winning in Finland was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Prime

Why winning in Finland was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021