WRC Lappi grabs early Rally Guanajuato Mexico lead after opening street stage
RALLY GUANAJUATO MÉXICO, March 7-10, 2019
2019 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3
For immediate release
Thursday, March 7th, 2019
LAPPI GRABS EARLY RALLY GUANAJUATO MÉXICO LEAD AFTER OPENING STREET STAGE
LEÓN (México): Finland’s Esapekka Lappi snatched an early lead in the 16th Rally Guanajuato México after clocking the quickest time of 1min 00.6sec in the opening 1.14km stage along narrow cobbled roads and through disused former mining tunnels in the centre of Guanajuato on Thursday evening.
The Toyota driver takes an advantage of just one-tenth of a second over Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen into eight timed special stages on Friday.
Damage to the jump ramp meant that there was a delay before the last three cars were permitted to start the special and rally officials then took the decision to give the remaining three cars – Sébastien Ogier, Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville - a notional time for the special. That decision was still pending at 21.16hrs.
Mexican driver Benito Guerra was handed the honour of opening the stage and entertaining the crowds in his Škoda Fabia R5. He posted a time of 1min 07sec in the WRC 2 category. His 46-year-old Mexican rival Ricardo Triviño was next into the stage and the veteran clocked a time of 1min 09.6sec on his first run in his new Fabia R5. Chile’s Alberto Heller was the quickest of the WRC 2 runners with a time of 1min 05.9sec.
Thousands of spectators gathered to witness the traditional spectacular start ceremony to the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship adjacent to Teatro Juárez and the renowned Alhondiga de Granaditas museum in the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Action on Friday will be fought out over five gravel stages in the mountains surrounding León and Guanajuato, a short street stage in the city and two runs through the V-Power Shell stage at the local race circuit at the end of the day. The leg offers a total of 114.19 competitive kilometres.
The notorious El Chocolate stage of 31.57km kicks off both the morning and afternoon loops and precedes two passes through the 17.28km of Ortega. The last of the day’s gravel stages is the 10.72km of the Las Minas special. This will also act as the event’s final points-scoring Power Stage on Sunday.
Starting positions are crucial where road sweeping duties come into play on gravel rallies of this nature and series leader Ott Tänak will have his work cut out to open the road. The likes of Kris Meeke, Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo could well benefit from more favourable starting positions lower down the running order.
2019 Rally Guanajuato México – positions after SS1 @ 21.16hrs:
1. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Citroën C3 WRC 1min 00.6sec
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger-Amland (NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1min 00.7sec
3. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Sebastian Marshall (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC 1min 01.2sec
4. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC 1min 01.2sec
5. Teemu Suninen (FIN)/Marko Salminen (FIN) Ford Fiesta WRC 1min 02.1sec
6. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1min 02.1sec
7. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 1min 02.3sec
Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC TBA
Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC TBA
Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC TBA
For further media information:
Rally Guanajuato México 2019, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, México, E-mail: Adrian@rallymexico.com or email@example.com.