WRC Sebastien Ogier holds slender lead after day two of Rally Guanajuato Mexico

RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO, March 3rd-6th, 2011
2011 FIA World Rally Championship, round 2

For immediate release
Saturday, March 5th, 2011


· Time penalty for late stage arrival costs Loeb his overall lead
· Ford Abu Dhabi’s Hirvonen and Latvala hold third and fourth
· Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah retains advantage in S2000 category

LEÓN (Mexico): The French duo of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held an advantage of just 10.5 seconds over their Citroën Total World Rally Team colleagues Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena at the end of day two and 19 special stages of the Rally Guanajuato Mexico 2011 on Saturday.

Loeb appeared to be in control of the situation until his Citroën DS3 WRC jammed in third gear before the start of the 15th stage and he was forced to make an emergency repair that earned him a 50-second penalty.

He clawed some time back on the subsequent stages when Ogier had a minor engine problem and lost power and the scene is now set for a fascinating showdown between the two DS3 drivers over the final three stages on Sunday. “We both know we have to bring both cars to the finish and that is something we need to remember tomorrow,” admitted Ogier.

Ford Abu Dhabi’s Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala remained some distance behind the leading Citroëns, but safe in third and fourth positions and keen to reach the finish and at least score points after failing to make in-roads into the French duo’s advantage on day two.

Petter Solberg was the form driver on the day and climbed from 13th at the start of the morning to hold fifth position after a string of fastest stage times. Norway’s Mads Ostberg holds a distant sixth and Henning Solberg slipped from fifth to seventh after repeated power steering problems and a brake issue.

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah finished the last gravel stage with a cable supporting his Fiesta’s steering rack, but the Qatari will take a 38.6s advantage over Czech driver Martin Prokop into the final day. “The last two stages we lose the steering and I tie it with a cable,” said Al-Attiyah. “Tomorrow we must keep concentration and make sure we make no mistakes.”

Day 2

Loeb moved into the lead in a drama-filled Ibarrilla stage. He beat Ogier by 4.7s to snatch a 2.4s overall advantage. Hirvonen was surprised to lose so much time to the leading DS3s but maintained a comfortable third position.

Latvala punctured and drove to the finish with the loss of 20 seconds, but Federico Villagra complained of brake problems, Matthew Wilson retired his Ford with ongoing electrical troubles 500 metres from the stage start and Dennis Kuipers rolled his Ford Fiesta RS WRC out of seventh position.

Estonian Ott Tanak was sidelined after careering off the stage and his demise handed Al-Attiyah a 53s advantage over Prokop in the S2000 category.

With Ogier acting as road-sweeper, Loeb drilled home his advantage in Duarte and surged into a 17.8s overall lead, as Hirvonen also beat the overnight leader and reduced the Frenchman’s grip on second place to 1m 22.8s.

Petter Solberg set his second consecutive fastest time in Derramadero and moved up to sixth overall after starting the day in 13th. Russian Evgeny Novikov was sidelined with reported oil pressure problems on the road section to the 13th stage, where Loeb extended his overall advantage over Ogier to 18.8s.

After the León street stage the Frenchman returned to service at the Poliforum with an overall advantage of 19.7s over Ogier. Hirvonen and Latvala held third and fourth overall and Henning Solberg completed the top five, despite a badly blistered hand following the loss of power steering.

Al-Attiyah eased his pace on the narrow, tricky sections of the 11th stage after Kuipers rolled and Juho Hänninen and Prokop began to question the Dakar winner’s hold on the S2000 category lead. The Qatari reached service with an advantage of 49.5s over his main Czech rival.

Heavy traffic was prevalent on the road section to the 15th stage and it delayed several crews including Loeb. But the Frenchman also discovered he had a gear linkage problem and the car was stuck in third gear. The crew managed to make temporary repairs before the stage and reached the start five minutes late and behind Hirvonen.

Petter Solberg set the fastest time and moved above his brother when Henning suffered repeated power steering trouble. Loeb overcame his scare to beat Ogier by 6.2s but he was awarded a 50-second penalty for the late stage arrival and slipped 24.1s behind his team-mate. Hänninen edged a little nearer to Prokop and second position in the S2000 category that was still being controlled by Al-Attiyah.

Solberg won his fourth stage of the day to consolidate fifth overall after SS16 but Loeb was also in a fast pace and beat Ogier by 13.7s to reduce the youngster’s lead to just 10.4s heading into the final gravel stage of the day at Derramadero.

Ogier had complained about a loss of power at the end of the 16th stage but he managed to beat Loeb by 0.9s in Derramadero when Loeb stalled and headed back to service and on to the pair of super special stages with an 11.3 second lead.

Al-Attiyah was suffering with steering rack issues and dropped 15 seconds to Hänninen and 10 seconds to Prokop in the penultimate gravel stage of the day and reached the Poliforum with a cable supporting the steering.

Tomorrow (Day 3)

Tomorrow (Sunday) crews will tackle just three special stages before the podium finish at 13.00hrs. Action gets underway with a run through the 29.13km of the Guanajuatito special at 08.28hrs and this precedes the 24.59km of Comanjilla. On-stage action in Rally Guanajuato Mexico 2011 draws to a close with the 8.28km Guanajuato Power Stage at 11.06hrs.

Positions after SS19 – End of Day 2 (unofficial @ 20.40hrs):
1. Sébastien Ogier (F)/Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroën DS3 WRC 3h 12m 52.6s*
2. Sébastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (MC) Citroën DS3 WRC 3h 13m 03.1s
3. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3h 14m 23.0s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3h 15m 36.4s
5. Petter Solberg (N)/Chris Patterson (GB) Citroën DS3 WRC 3h 19m 44.4s
6. Mads Ostberg (N)/Jonas Andersson (N) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3h 21m 02.4s
7. Henning Solberg (N)/Ilka Minor (A) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3h 21m 34.2s
8. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Giovanni Bernacchini (I) Ford Fiesta S2000 3h 23m 46.5s
9. Martin Prokop (CZ)/Jan Tománek (CZ) Ford Fiesta S2000 3h 24m 25.1s
* pending outcome of Stewards’ meeting


For further media information:
2011 Guanajuato Rally Mexico Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, Tel: + 52 (477) 711-1475 or + 52 (477) 771-5365, E-mail: media@rallymexico.com.




Date issued: 05/03/2011

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