March 15, 2020 / 9:43 AM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-Rallying-Mexico round cut short by coronavirus restrictions, Ogier wins

* Rally Mexico cut short due to coranavirus travel restrictions

* Teams needed to end early to be sure of getting home

* Ogier wins event for sixth time, leads championship (Adds detail)

March 15 (Reuters) - Sebastien Ogier won Rally Mexico for a sixth time on Sunday after the world championship event was cut short due to changing travel restrictions resulting from the global coronavirus outbreak.

The decision to end the rally after Saturday’s second leg, enough distance to allow full championship points to be awarded, was to ensure teams and officials could travel home to Europe from Mexico.

The United States is imposing new restrictions on entry from midnight on Monday and battered U.S. airlines are planning more flight cuts. Some European countries have also gone into lockdown.

“A victory is a victory of course, but this one feels different from any other,” said six times world champion Ogier, who now leads the championship from Toyota team mate Elyn Evans by eight points.

“It’s hard to celebrate in these circumstances.”

Reigning world champion Ott Tanak finished second for Hyundai, fighting back from a Friday setback to end 27.8 seconds behind Ogier, with M-Sport Ford’s Teemu Suninen third and previous championship leader Evans fourth.

Ogier had led the Leon-based gravel event in the state of Guanajuato since Friday morning and finished with four stage wins.

The victory was the Frenchman’s first since he joined Toyota from Citroen at the end of last season and sixth in eight years in Mexico. Ogier has also now won in Mexico with four different manufacturers and racked up 48 career wins.

With the cancellation of Sunday’s final leg, the usual bonus points available from the closing ‘Power Stage’ were not awarded.

Toyota are 21 points clear of Hyundai at the top of the manufacturers’ standings.

Portugal, on May 21-24, is the next scheduled round of the championship but that could change. Argentina, which normally follows on from Mexico, has already been postponed. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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