What’s a little dust but a thing to play in. Before the first day of Rally Mexico everybody and their favourite teacher predicted huge time losses for the front runners, the championship leaders, who were, under the new rules, set to tackle the stages first and therefore lose a lot of time dealing with the slippery surface. The dusty and sandy top layer did not disappoint, of course, and there were time losses for the leading crews, but in the end of the day, and especially after the first loop, it was obvious that the impact of the road positions was not as significant as predicted. On some stages, like the first stage of the day, it was quite the opposite – the starting position further down the grid actually caused problems for some crews as they ran into standing dust and had to slow down in reduced visibility.
Besides that, Mexico threw its usual mix of everything at crews, from deep sandy patches, which couldn’t care less about the number of cars that tried to disperse it, to the punishing surroundings, which greeted the suspensions and wheels with the usual and efficient destruction. Cars suffered, like Chris Atkinson’s Hyundai which acted as a bad luck magnet today, losing switches, breaking suspensions, missing brakes and acting like it’s not really in a good mood to rally.
It was also the day in which some drivers really drove like the best damn motor sport professionals in existence. That was until their cars started behaving like the fragile fairies – Mikko Hirvonen drove like the veteran of this event, but when Fiesta decided to act up there was little he could to. Kris Meeke was excellent today, waiting for the confidence and pace to find him and when they did the pace was immediately there. Well, until the DS3 felt it was the time to say “you shall run no more”.
Robert Kubica crashed on the final stage of the day in a quite strange accident while Andreas Mikkelsen dropped out earlier in the day. The highlight of the day is surely Seb Ogier, but even more so Mads Ostberg. He held the lead for quite some time then the mistake happened. Despite that, Mads kept it together and thanks to that he is still within the striking distance of Ogier. But, just so that things don’t get too predictable, Jari-Matti Latvala is also in hot pursuit, trailing Ostberg by 16 seconds.