The Red Flag
Many were quick to yell foul play at Rally Mexico after a red flag interrupted SS10 Guanajuatito 1. The stage was cancelled soon after Esapekka Lappi had slid wide into an immovable position. Then came the discovery Sebastien Ogier had a puncture. Allegations quickly spread that Citroen conspired to cancel the stage so Ogier would not lose time and the lead.
The decision to cancel the stage however lay solely with the organisers, just as they did on SS1 and SS2 when issues arose. Rumours that Citroen asked Lappi to press the ‘red button’ were also later dismissed.
Ogier received a nominal time for the stage and many fans on social media thought it was scandalously kind. Looking at the evidence however, suggests it was perfectly fair.
Analysing the Split Times
This chart shows the cumulative time lost to the fastest intervals across the stage. (Kris Meeke won all point to point intervals.) Ogier begins to lose time to Elfyn Evans between the second and third split. Although compared to Meeke he is consistent. He makes it beyond Split 4 before receiving the red flag alert and backing off.
It appears on the onboard video, and their comments, the puncture occurs between splits 2 and 3. Ogier told Colin Clark at the stage end it ‘happened a bit earlier’. So the pace between split 3 and 4 is all with the puncture.
Following the projection of that pace takes you to a stage time within a second of the time he was allocated by the clerk of the course. It’s true the tyre could have got worse but Seb would have finished the remaining 2km even if he had shed it. But that didn’t happen.
Update: I had to estimate the distances for the locations of the split time markers by watching onboards and using the fantastic Rally-Maps.com. It’s therefore likely I’m out by a few metres and this is how the clerk of the course got to Ogier’s time.
The Real Mystery
The real mystery of Guanajuatito however is why we can not watch Kris Meeke’s onboard of SS10. We are fortunate to have a similar set of opening splits from Jari-Mati Latvala so we can trust his stage time. The road also improved for the second passes similar to the others. I can understand why Latvala’s partial run isn’t available but the stage winning run of Kris Meeke should. It was one of the most impressive runs of the rally and put Kris in the lead. Not that any of us knew it at the time.
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