Abdulaziz Al Kuwari controlled the WRC 2 category in yesterday’s gravel stages in Mexico.
LEÓN, Mexico: Abdulaziz Al Kuwari dominated in the WRC 2 category at Rally Guanajuato Mexico to establish a massive lead.
Yesterday, once Peruvian Nicolás Fuchs had lost time with steering column woes early on, the Qatari was able to control his pace and he reached León with a comfortable lead in his Ford Fiesta RRC.
Fuchs (Mitsubishi) held second and Germany’s Armin Kremer (Subaru) was third.
Al Kuwari had continued where he finished last night by maintaining his WRC 2 lead with the Seashore Ford Fiesta.
The Qatari was beaten by Fuchs through SS3, but he pipped the Peruvian in Las Minas and extended his advantage to 1min 21.1sec after Fuchs lost a minute in the fifth stage with steering woes. Yuriy Protasov dropped three minutes with a third stage puncture and then suffered power steering problems.
Al Kuwari retained a 1min 44.4sec advantage in WRC 2 heading to the León super special and the return to service at the Poliforum, despite losing time in the dust of a struggling Lorenzo Bertelli.
The French duo of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia controlled proceedings in the Rally after 13 of 23 timed special stages yesterday.
Norwegian Mads Østberg was the only driver able to get anywhere near to Ogier’s stage times during the course of the day and he finished the leg 33 seconds behind the championship-leading Frenchman, who is high on confidence after claiming a first WRC victory for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC in Sweden.
“It was a really good day and I am very happy,” said Ogier. Thierry Neuville became embroiled in a fascinating scrap with Mikko Hirvonen for the final podium place but the Finn used his greater experience over the final few stages to edge ahead of the Belgian to claim a grip on third position with the first of the works Citroën DS3s. He trailed Østberg by just nine seconds.
Spaniard Dani Sordo was a subdued fifth in the second DS3 and Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah was enjoying his first WRC event of the season and held sixth position.
America’s Ken Block, Mexican favourite Benito Guerra, Czech driver Martin Prokop and Australian Chris Atkinson rounded off the top 10.
The slippery cobbles at the start of the 21.91km El Cubilete were first on the agenda and Ogier gave a clear message to his rivals by posting a potent time to extend his overnight advantage to 5.3 seconds.
A stunned Latvala collided with a rock 500 metres into the stage and damaged his Polo’s front wishbone, as Ostberg and Neuville remained in second and third overall and Novikov lost eight minutes with an engine ECU issue.
“The roads are good but there are a lot of rocks on the side,” said Latvala The Peninsula