Sebastien Ogier secured his second victory in three rallies by winning the 2019 Rally Mexico, defeating Ott Tanak by 30.2 seconds.
The reigning world champion led most of the rally, building a 14.8 second advantage ahead of M-Sport driver Elfyn Evans by the end of Friday running.
Key to victory for Ogier was a lucky break for the Frenchman during the first stage of Saturday, the 25.9km of Guanajuatito, which was red flagged after he picked up a puncture mid-through the test.
The Citroen pilot was losing significant time before the stoppage, caused by team-mate Esapekka Lappi blocking the road just a couple of kilometres from the end of the stage.
He received a nominal time 22 seconds slower than that of stage winner Kris Meeke, saving what could have been a particularly painful dent to his victory bid.
He then capped off his scintillating drive by taking maximum points in the Power Stage, displacing Thierry Neuville from second in the WRC driver’s standings.
Tanak put on one of his characteristic charges to snatch away the runners-up spot from Evans following a Friday that saw him forced to clean the road by virtue of his championship lead.
Despite scoring no points in the Power Stage to go with his second place finish, the Estonian nonetheless retains his lead in the championship; although now just four points clear of Ogier.
Evans was able to take third, while Thierry Neuville consolidated fourth in what was a challenging rally for the Belgian, with a delaminated tyre in the first running of El Chocolate on Friday morning as well as a lack of pace from his Hyundai quickly forcing him into a damage-limitation drive.
Kris Meeke secured fifth in the second Toyota after a frustrating rally full of technical problems afflicting his Yaris WRC, including a broken damper and a gearbox that limited him to second gear during the Saturday evening super-special stages.
Meeke looked set to steal the lead away from Ogier following his problems in Guanajuatito, helped by a stunning drive that saw the ’16 Mexico victor set a time more than 12 seconds faster than his nearest rivals.
WRC2 winner Benito Guerra managed a superb sixth overall in his R5-specification Skoda Fabia, while Jari-Matti Latvala recovered to seventh following an electrical issue that forced his retirement on Friday evening.
Bolivian WRC2 racer Marco Bulacia secured eighth ahead of the super-rallying Dani Sordo, who also suffered an electrical fault that force his own retirement on Friday, while Ricardo Trivino rounded out the top ten to take the final point in his own Skoda Fabia R5.