MEXICO CITY: France’s Sebastien Ogier took advantage of a crash by Finnish rival Esapekka Lappi to seize the overall lead by 35.8 seconds after Saturday’s stages of the Mexico Rally.
Eight-time world champion Ogier is a six-time Rally Mexico winner and with a triumph on Sunday would eclipse the event title record he shares with compatriot Sebastien Loeb.
Lappi, a Hyundai driver, had grabbed the lead through Friday but crashed just over 10km into the opening Ibarrilla stage, his car collided with a utility pole before briefly catching fire.
After the 19th of 23 overall stages, Toyota racer Ogier set the pace on two hours, 35 minutes and 37.6 seconds with Welshman Elfyn Evans second in a Toyota and Belgian Thierry Neuville was third, 40.1 seconds adrift, in a Hyundai.
“I thnk this lead is good and I’m happy with my day,” Ogier said. “It has been another strong day for me.
“We had a little bit of a different approach after Esapekka went off in the first stage this morning. We didn’t need to go for too much risk, but still we managed to set some good times and increase our lead.
“Tomorrow is still long which means we cannot afford to relax.”
Ogier improved his margin over Evans by 11 seconds in all on Saturday.