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March 10 (Reuters) - Frenchman Sebastien Ogier clinched victory in the Rally of Mexico on Sunday to extend his lead at the top of the world championship standings to 31 points after three rounds.
The Volkswagen driver put an early-morning technical issue behind him to complete a resounding win, his second in a row, by three minutes 28.9 seconds from Finland's Mikko Hirvonen in a Citroen.
The Frenchman, who won 16 of the rally's 23 stages, spent 20 minutes fixing a sensor after the morning's opening Guanajuatito stage on gravel roads in the hills around Leon in central Mexico.
"The car was perfect again all weekend," he told the wrc.com website. "Okay, just a small alarm this morning with a sensor but it was not a drama.
"Now we have quite a good lead for the championship after just three rallies. The season will be long but already it's not bad," added the Frenchman, who won on Swedish snow and was second on asphalt in Monte Carlo.
Ogier had seen his lead increased by 40 seconds after the clerk of the course examined data and split times to see how much he had lost on Saturday's stage 18 when he had to stop and open a gate that was blocking the road.
Belgium's Thierry Neuville finished third in a Ford, despite sliding into a ditch in the morning, for his first world championship podium.
Reigning champion Sebastien Loeb is second overall but is competing in only a handful of events this season and is not defending his title.
That meant that Ogier's closest real rival is Hirvonen, third overall and 44 points off the lead after his first podium of the year.
"Sebastien was so fast and we couldn't match his pace," said the Finn. "We have lots of work to do but I'm happy we've finally got on the podium and taken a solid result."
Among the points scorers, Qatar's Nasser al-Attiyah was fifth in a Ford and American Ken Block finished a career best seventh, also in a Ford. (Reporting by Toby Davis/Alan Baldwin; editing by Ed Osmond)