Victim of a track excursion on SS11, Esapekka Lappi was forced to retire and thus handed over command of the Mexico rally to Sébastien Ogier. The Gapençais has a nice margin over Elgyn Evans and Thierry Neuville.
Sébastien Ogier is now leading the Mexico rally. While he was a little more than five seconds behind Esapekka Lappi at the end of the day on Friday, the Gapençais saw the Finn go to fault from the first timed sector disputed this Saturday on Mexican soil while he closed the road for the Rally1.
The wheels of his Hyundai having bitten on the side of the road, Esapekka Lappi lost control of his car on a ridge and went directly into a power pole, which gave way on the shock, lying on the i20 N. An abandonment which saw Sébastien Ogier, author of the best time during this SS11, seize control of the event without asking with a margin slightly greater than 27 seconds over Elfyn Evans when Thierry Neuville was already relegated to almost 39 seconds. The Belgian then raised his voice on the three stages completing the morning loop.
😵 Disaster! Overnight leader @EsapekkaLappi is OUT 10.01km into Saturday’s first stage
Stage red flagged 🚩#WRCLive | #RallyMexico | #WRC
— World Rally Championship (@OfficialWRC) March 18, 2023
Ogier does not intend to risk everything
Thierry Neuville set the best time each time but never took more than a second and a half from Sébastien Ogier but also by marginally reducing its delay on Elfyn Evans. Before the four specials on the afternoon program, the eight-time world champion enjoys a lead of just over 28 seconds over his Welsh teammate when the Belgian driver from the Hyundai team emerges at 37 seconds. of the leader. Reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä is already over a minute behind.
« I am now even more in safety mode concerning my pilotingconfided Sébastien Ogier at the end of the 13th special. It’s not a huge gap but we try to avoid all the stones and take as little risk as possible. While SS15 has already been canceled by the organizers due to the consequences of Esapekka Lappi’s accident, Sébastien Ogier will no doubt maintain this attitude during the 49 timed kilometers remaining to be covered this Saturday in order to to start the last day in the best of moods.
Ranking at the end of SS14 (out of 23) – Saturday March 18, 2023
1- Sébastien Ogier – Vincent Landais (FRA-FRA/Toyota) in 2h04’07”2
2- Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin (GBR-GBR/Toyota) à 28”5
3- Thierry Neuville – Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL-BEL/Hyundai) à 37”2
4- Kalle Rovanperä – Jonne Halttunen (FIN-FIN/Toyota) à 1’13”8
5- Dani Sordo – Candido Carrera (ESP-ESP/Hyundai) at 1’56”9
Tank : 2 (ES1, ES2)
Lapland : 5 (ES3, ES5, ES6, ES8, ES9)
Stallion : 3 (ES4, ES7, ES11)
Deaf: 1 (ES10)
Neuville: 3 (SS12, SS13, SS14)
SS15 was canceled by the organizers after Esapekka Lappi crashed on SS11.