Saturday, March 7th 2015, 00:34 GMT
Sebastien Ogier resisted challenges from Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala to maintain a 13.5-second lead after a wild first full day of Rally Mexico.
Hyundai driver Neuville looked set to close right in on Ogier’s Volkswagen on the long El Chocolate stage, where he halved the World Rally champion’s advantage on the early splits.
But Neuville’s victory bid ended in the closing miles of the stage, as he picked up a puncture and then rolled off the road.
Latvala was closing on both Neuville and Ogier by that time, having kickstarted his previously disappointing rally by winning the afternoon’s opening Los Mexicanos stage.
By the end of the Las Minas stage, Latvala had got Ogier’s lead down to 10.9s, but he then made a minor error on the evening superspecial, dropping him back to 13.5s adrift as Ogier hung on to a lead he had predicted would be impossible to achieve when first on the road.