Sebastien Loeb is on the brink of victory in Rally Mexico, taking a 40.2-second lead into the last two stages despite easing his pace this morning.
Having built up a comfortable advantage yesterday, Loeb was able to drive carefully while running first on the treacherous road today. So, while all his pursuers were substantially faster than the Citroen on today's opener Guanajuatito, it did not matter in the slightest to Loeb.
"I didn't push, I just took it easy," he said. "For sure I'll lose some time but it's no problem."
In his wake, Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Junior) has edged ahead of Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) in their tight battle for second. They head for the last full-length stage and the concluding superspecial just 1.4sec apart.
"I think it will be a fight until the end," Ogier said. "I don't want to take too many risks. It's good [to be second] but it's not finished yet."
Solberg is confident he can come back at Ogier on the Comanjilla stage. "I took slightly harder springs this morning and hopefully it will be better on the next stage, that's what I'm hoping for," he said. "Third is also important, but I'm trying for second."
The Fords remain fourth and fifth, with Jari-Matti Latvala now convinced that running too soft a setup on Friday was the key to the team's poor weekend, while Hirvonen felt he was fortunate to escape an impact that buckled his door.
"Six kilometers before the finish, we just started sliding, went wide and hit a brick wall," he explained. "Luckily the hit came in a good place and didn't break a wheel. But still, everything is going wrong this weekend."
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h28m55.4s
2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 40.2s
3. Petter Solberg Citroen + 41.6s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1m32.0s
5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 1m58.1s
6. Henning Solberg Ford + 2m45.8s
7. Federico Villagra Ford + 9m54.9s
8. Xevi Pons Ford + 17m43.0s
9. Martin Prokop Ford + 18m00.3s
10. Armindo Araujo Mitsubishi + 19m59.4s