LAPPI LEADS WITH FASTEST TIME IN EL CHOCOLATE; TURBO TROUBLE FOR TÄNAK; LOUBET CRASHES.
After Thursday evening’s carnival-type atmosphere in Guanajuato, it was down to the serious business of the opening 29.07km of the notorious El Chocolate stage that has been an integral part of the route since 2013 and climbed to 2,666 metres.
Ott Tänak had the thankless task of opening the road and sweeping through any loose gravel on the racing line. The Estonian knew that he would be suffering from his road position throughout a hot and dry opening loop but was forced to pull to the side of the road with a turbo issue 15.8km into the stage.
The crew lost valuable time and were passed by Rovanperä before restarting in limp mode in a bit to reach the stage finish. They stopped again to let Neuville through. The WRC leader dropped nearly eight minutes to the defending World Champion on a stage where Esapekka Lappi set the fastest time and moved into a lead of 1.2 seconds over Sébastien Ogier.
Tänak’s issues meant that Rovanperä was forced to act as the road sweeper. Katsuta was suffering from serious dust issues and M-Sport Ford’s misery was compounded when Pierre Louis Loubet smacked a large rock and damaged the front-right of his Ford Puma and Jourdain Serderidis spun, his demise blocking the stage in front of Gus Greensmith in the first WRC2 car. The stage was red-flagged.
Car 8. TÄNAK/JÄRVEOJA
“Turbo…there is a turbo in the car and it’s just there…it’s dead…”
Car 69. ROVANPERÄ/HALTTUNEN
Swiped the rear of the car near the stage finish without any damage. “It’s better to have one line (Tänak)
in front. That is better than nothing. It’s going to be quite bad from now on.”
Car 11. NEUVILLE/WYDAEGHE
“I saw Tänak was stopped somewhere. After that the road conditions were a little worse. From the
driving side we had a good stage but from the traction side we are missing something and we need to
improve that to be able to go faster.”
Car 33. EVANS/MARTIN
“Pretty slippery to be honest, not easy, all okay and clean enough, Probably a bit too much margin in
places. The hybrid definitely helps but it’s only when you have it.”
Car 17. OGIER/LANDAIS
“It’s difficult to be honest, very slippery for me and for everybody. The road is getting better car after
car. It’s not easy. The hybrid is helping but with the slippery conditions it is not easy.”
Car 4. LAPPI/FERM
“To be honest on the stage you have no idea what speed you are doing it is always the same challenge.
If we can match Seb we are on the right way. On this rally you don’t feel fast.”
Car 18. KATSUTA/JOHNSTON
Serious dust in the car. “I could not drive. I could not see anything.”
Car 7. LOUBET/GILSOUL
Clipped a large rock with the front right of the car and were forced to stop on the stage with possible
steering and suspensión damage. Helmets off for the crew and a disastrous start for the M-Sport Ford
WRT was complete.
Car 6. SORDO/CARRERA
“Very slippery. I tried to keep the car in the line but we did not have the grip.”
Car 9. SERDERIDIS/MICLOTTE
Stopped in the stage and completely blocked the track in front of Gus Greensmith. The stage was red
flagged as a result of the stoppage.