Ogier powers his Toyota ahead in Mexico dust and flames
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Frenchman Sebastien Ogier emerged from the dust of day two on the Mexico Rally after watching key rival Ott Tanak suffer a damaged axel on a tough day of racing in the gravelly hill roads outside Guanajuato that left one car a burnt-out wreck.
Teemu Suninen is second at 13.2sec in his Ford, while winner of the Rally of Sweden two weeks ago Elfyn Evans of Toyota is third at 33.2sec.
"We have all had challenges today," Ogier said after a day of carnage on the shaley Mexican surfaces. "Slippery roads and a lot of rocks to avoid, it’s never easy to drive here but I enjoyed it."
Temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and the thin air at almost 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) altitude put a strain on the drivers, the cars and the mechanics. Estonian world champion Ott Tanak somehow survived badly damaged suspension that saw him drop from lead to fourth on one of the early runs in his Hyundai at 33.4sec.
"We've had a really bad day today," said Tanak. "I think we might gain some places back now but it has been difficult."
He span out of control in Monte Carlo's opening leg of the world rally championships but showed grit to complete the day on reduced power. Belgian Thierry Neuville pulled out for the day after leaping from his car and trying some frantic in-race repairs but an electrical problem ruled him out.
Spain's Dani Sordo overheated his motor and had to pull out altogether in searing conditions that left one car burned out. Esapekka Lappi had to leap from his Ford after the early "El Chocolate" run as the vehicle burst into flames and completely burned out despite a fire team working to beat the blaze. "On the stop line, Janne (his co-driver)opened the door and said the car is burning," Lappi explained. "I didn't realise how big the fire was, so I tried to drive."
Championship leader Evans of Wales had a few close shaves on the challenging Mexican surfaces as his Ford Yaris slipped around and complained at the end of the day of sloppy organisation. "It would help if things were set up properly," he said after the final special, a nightime blast around the streets of Leon.