Meeke moves into Rally Mexico lead

Meeke moves into Rally Mexico lead
By AutoSport

11/03/2017 at 04:47Updated

Kris Meeke moved into the lead of Rally Mexico during Friday afternoon's truncated schedule on the third round of the World Rally Championship season.

Citroen driver Meeke claimed his first stage win of 2017 with a commanding performance on the Friday opener, El Chocolat, and added to with another success later on SS7.

The Briton won most of his advantage with the fastest time on El Chocolate, which ended up being the first stage of the day following the cancellation of SS2 and SS3, completing the 34.11-mile test in 39m15.6s.

As most of his competitors complained of engine overheating issues on that stage, Meeke reported no such concerns and was able to further extended his lead on SS5 with the fourth-fastest time - despite twice stalling on an uphill section.

Meeke was only ninth on the SS6 Guanajuato street stage but claimed another stage win on the first attempt at the Leon Autodrome and was second on the other (SS8), ending the day with a margin of 20.9 seconds in hand over four-time champion Sebastien Ogier in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta.

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville holds third overall but did not complete the day untroubled, as he and team-mates Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon were all hit by suspected misfires.

Neuville claimed stage wins on SS5 and SS6, but dropped 35s to the fastest runners on the two runs through the Autodrome and now trails Meeke by 56.7s.

He at least fared better than Sordo in the second i20, the Spaniard finding himself unable to complete his first run.

Sordo was then prevented from taking his second attempt at the stage and directed back to service as a result, and plummeted down the order despite later being allowed to complete a second run.

Those woes promoted overnight leader Juho Hanninen back into fourth in his Toyota Yaris and the second Fiesta of Ott Tanak into fifth.

The Estonian ended the day with 20s in hand over the second Citroen DS 3 of Stephane Lefebvre, who in turn sits 10s clear of the Hyundai of Paddon.

Jari-Matti Latvala felt the full effects of running first on the road, the Finn ending Friday's running two and a half minutes behind Meeke and in a lonely eighth place.