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( release, 8/3/2013)  VOLKSWAGEN driver Sebastien Ogier led Rally Guanajuato Mexico after the opening two sprint stages.

Thierry Neuville and Ogier took a win apiece, but it was Ogier who returned to Leon at night with the early lead in the WRC third round.

Ogier was fourth in the opening 1.05 km Monster Street Stage in Guanajuato in his Volkswagen Polo R, just 0.5sec behind the Ford Fiesta RS of winner Neuville.

But fastest in the second stage, Parque Bicentenario (2.60 kms), promoted him into top spot overall, 0.3sec ahead of the Fiesta RS of Mads Ostberg.

Tens of thousands of fans descend on the picturesque town of Guanajuato for a colourful and musical start ceremony, which led immediately into the street test.

Directly after the start, the route descended into a narrow tunnel, formerly one of many mining shafts when the town was a major gold and silver producer.

After a loop around a roundabout, the test finished on a cobbled street lined with colonial houses.

Ostberg was second behind Neuville on Guanajuato, tied with Nasser Al-Attiyah’s similar Fiesta.  Behind Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Australia’s Chris Atkinson were equal-fifth.

Mikko Hirvonen was second in Parque Bicentenario, new stage, based in the grounds of an expo centre built between the cities of Guanajuato, Leon and Silao.

Just a tenth of a second behind Ogier, the Finn regained time after almost stalling on the startline of the opening test.

Ostberg was third, with Dani Sordo, Neuville and Atkinson rounding off the top six.

Behind Ostberg in the overall standings was Neuville, only 0.6sec from the lead, with Hirvonen in fourth. Sordo and Atkinson complete the top six.

Both Atkinson and Ken Block clipped a kerb inside Guanajuato’s tunnel, Block sheepishly admitting it was the same stone he hit last year.

Neither Atkinson’s Citroen DS3 nor Block’s Ford Fiesta RS was damaged. Latvala stalled at the start of the second stage.

Competitors restart at 6.15 am on Friday, local time, for a morning loop comprising five stages and 78.78 km.

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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