The Citroën C-3 motorist ended the penultimate leg with a 27.0sec guide over Elfyn Evans as fierce heat and tough gravel roads continued to have a toll over the FIA World Rally Championship contenders.

Ogier’s overnight advantage was phased out at a dramatic opening Guanajuatito speed test this afternoon.

Teammate Esapekka Lappi slipped his C-3 into a ditch 800 metres from the conclusion, coming to rest partly obstructing the track. Kris Meeke and Evans squeezed by earlier organisers curtailed the point for safety factors.

Notional times were given to those supporting who didn’t handle the whole test . The problem was muddled as Ogier punctured his front right tyre before the stoppage.

Organisers awarded him a while 22.4sec slower than Meeke to compensate, boosting the Briton into a 1.3sec guide to his Toyota Yaris.

Meeke subsequently suffered a flat tyre at the subsequent Otates stage. He surrendered a lot more than 90sec after electing to not stop, and a further 1min 45sec limping throughout the following El Brinco test with damaged suspension.

Elfyn Evans fended away Ott Tänak in 2nd place

“It wasn’t a smooth moment. First I had a puncture and after that it was a very long day with sexy temperatures. I finished the afternoon with a small difficulty with the metering as well as the vehicle has been scarcely driveable at the last point,” he said.

He was more than 20sec into this good this afternoon, but also the Estonian closed with two point wins to establish a thrilling final moment.

Thierry Neuville has been a lonely fourth in his Hyundai i20. The Belgian struggled for speed and spent much of the day tinkering with his carrsquo;s set-up in the expectation of getting a remedy.

Meeke was more than two minutes adrift in fifth, adding to his own woes when he made a similar mistake to Ogier and surrendered 45sec. The Ulsterman then tackled the last period using his car spat in 2nd gear.

He was more than seven minutes clear of WRC-2 pioneer Benito Guerra, with fellow aid category driver Marco Bulacia at seventh.

He deliberately incurred a time penalty to start the stages further down the order with the advantage of cleaner and faster terms. It reduced because he won two evaluations.

Ricardo Trivino and Dani Sordo completed the leaderboard.

It ends with the Wolf Power Stage in Las Minas, that delivers bonus points into the speediest five drivers.

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