Katsuta crashes down a bank, Lappi still leads

Takamoto Katsuta became the third Rally1 crasher of México's opening morning, as Esapekka Lappi held Sébastien Ogier at bay up front

Takamoto Katsuta

Takamoto Katsuta crashed out of Rally México on the final stage of Friday’s opening loop, as Esapekka Lappi maintained a tiny lead over Sébastien Ogier.

The final stage of the morning Las Minas, with the tight and twisty opening section with walls on either side typical of the challenges that México throws up.

And that test proved too much for Katsuta, who lost the rear of his Toyota after the second split and went down a bank and out of seventh place.

Both Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston got out of the car unharmed, but there’s a big task for their mechanics to get the car fixed and ready for tomorrow. They had already been struggling with what they felt was smoke coming into the car.

Katsuta is the third Rally1 casualty of the day after M-Sport Ford drivers Pierre-Louis Loubet and Jourdan Serderidis fell victim to opening stage El Chocolate.


In the fight for the lead, Lappi had managed to fend off Ogier’s attack on the Ortega, and on SS5 he extended his advantage to 1.4 seconds.

But Ogier was just focused on keeping it clean through the day.

“For sure it’s much better than [being] first on the road, we knew that,” he explained.

“The only thing is sometimes on rocks you have to be careful, but you cannot control [that] really.

“I just focus on driving clean.”

Dani Sordo closed in on Elfyn Evans for third, and they are now separated by 0.6s.

Elsewhere there were issues for both Thierry Neuville and Kalle Rovanperä, who both complained of losing the hybrid system after a heavier than normal impact on their cars.

This was much to the dismay of Neuville, who was unhappy with how his morning unfolded.

“Not a good morning for us,” he said. “The driving was very good but we got caught by a big bump in the road which wasn’t there in recce and we lost the hybrid, so we struggled in all the uphills.”

The pair end Friday’s first loop in fifth and sixth.

Ott Tänak made it to the end of the stage but is now 12m33.5s off the lead after his morning of turbo problems. He will now head to the service park in the hope a fix can be made to his Ford Puma Rally1.

Words:Adam Proud