France’s Sebastien Ogier won the Rally Guanajuato Mexico for the fourth time to regain top spot in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Ogier surged from fifth to first on Saturday by winning four stages in succession and eased through Sunday’s final leg in mountains near Leon to win by 73.6 seconds in his Ford Fiesta.
Dani Sordo claimed second place in his Hyundai i20 after benefiting from a mistake by Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke, who won the event last year.
Meeke tipped his Citroen C3 onto its side at a slippery right corner on cobblestones near the end of the Alfaro special stage.
Fans pushed it back onto its wheels, but he lost almost 40 seconds to Sordo and eventually finished 15.6 secs behind the Spanish driver.
Meeke’s error rekindled memories of a dramatic finale 12 months ago when he won the rally despite a dramatic crash into a car park less than a kilometre from the finish.
“I was just coming on to the cobbles and the car slid,” Meeke said in quotes reported on www.wrc.com.
“There was a deep gulley on the outside and I caught a wheel which put us on our side.”
Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth, with Sebastien Loeb, who lost his lead due to a puncture on Saturday, grabbing fifth on his WRC return with Citroen.
Thierry Neuville was a further two and a half minutes behind Loeb in sixth, the Hyundai driver conceding the championship lead to Ogier.
WRC2 winner Pontus Tidemand took seventh, the best overall finish of the Swede’s career in the WRC.
Jari-Matti Latvala, eighth, was Toyota’s only representative in the top 10, the Finn’s rally ruined by an alternator problem on Friday.
The top 10 was completed by WRC2 podium finishers Gus Greensmith and Pedro Heller.