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Mexico - 8-11 Mar 18

Posted: March 10, 2018 4:56 PM - 2904 Hits

Round 3 - 2018 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Mexico 2018) Also available at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Mexico

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times
Shakedown - Thu - 15:00
SS1 Fri - 02:08
SS2 Fri - 16:33
SS11 Sat - 16:33
SS20 Sun - 14:18

WORLD RALLY TEAMS LEAVE EUROPEAN WINTER FOR HEAT AND DUST OF RALLY MÉXICO

Posted: March 7, 2018 2:25 PM

This week’s 15th Rally Guanajuato México marks the first time this season that FIA World Rally Championship teams will face the rigours of punishing heat, abrasive gravel and demanding altitude.

México’s now traditional third round of the championship is a far cry from the changing stage surfaces of the Alpes-Maritimes or the sub-zero temperatures of a harsh Swedish winter. Several drivers switched teams in the close season and new partnerships provide new challenges, particularly on a specialised event like Rally México where pre-rally gravel testing could play a key role in determining the outcome at the ceremonial finish on Sunday (March 11) afternoon.

The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are the defending Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ champions after enjoying an historic season in 2017, where Frenchman Sébastien Ogier claimed his third personal title and M-Sport beat factory opposition on a limited budget to create history in the Teams’ category.

Three-time Mexican event winner Ogier began this season well with victory in Monte Carlo, but the team suffered a setback in Sweden and management realise the importance of podium results in México. Unseasonal wintry weather trimmed the team’s pre-rally test in Spain to just three days, but M-Sport took advantage of Ford’s climatic chamber in Dunton to carry out vital engine mapping to cope with altitudes of in excess of 2,700 metres above sea level on the mountainous gravel stages around Guanajuato and León.

Team principal Malcolm Wilson said: “We are expecting the championship to be closer than ever this year. If we want to regain our place at the head of the standings, we need to deliver a strong team result in México. I am confident that we can launch a return to form.”

Ogier currently holds second in the championship and is joined by Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans and Finland’s Teemu Suninen in M-Sport’s three-car team. Young Suninen will be tackling the event for the first time in a World Rally Car, although he won WRC2 here in 2016.

The Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team struggled with overheating issues on the Yaris WRC’s Mexican debut last season, but team principal Tommi Mäkinen is keen to show improvements have been made. Toyota has started the season well and holds second in the Manufacturers’ standings, with the experienced former event winner Jari-Matti Latvala joined by Estonian Ott Tanak and fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi this time out.

Mäkinen, 53, said:
“We have done a lot of work to improve. México was tough for us with our new car. We have improved the cooling and the engine. We have even been in an altitude dyno in Japan and have put a lot of effort into these areas.”

Pre-event testing is banned outside of Europe and the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team headed to the Girona region of Spain in February for a three-day test. Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen, Spain’s Dani Sordo and early WRC leader Thierry Neuville all had opportunities to test the i20 WRC. Neuville is one of the clear favourites to win the title for the first time this year and will be hoping to adapt quickly to this week’s 22 timed special stages and a total competitive distance of 344.49km.

Nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb returns to the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team to accompany last year’s Mexican event winner Kris Meeke. The Frenchman won the third round of the WRC on six occasions with Daniel Elena and rejolins the team after a three-year absence. His expertise and experience has helped the French team make a promising start to the season. Besides, Citroën has won seven of the 13 Mexican events in the WRC thus far.

The team tested the C3 WRC in the Almeria province of southern Spain last month and 44-year-old Loeb was encouraged by the feedback:
“The evolution of the suspension and the geometry helped give me more confidence and that’s something I needed. Compared to the old World Rally Car, for sure, the engine is stronger and the balance of the car was good.”

Citroën’s new team principal Pierre Budar added:
“The aim will be to pick up where we left off in Sweden. We know the rally very well and claimed the C3 WRC’s first ever win here. We also know the first gravel round of the year is unusual, mainly due to the altitude, and that can shake things up completely.”

Local hero Benito Guerra will not be taking part in the 15th Rally Guanajuato México after his Skoda Fabia R5 was completely destroyed by fire at the test session in Irapuato on Monday.

The Mexican had taken part in a couple of runs and the car was sitting under a tent in the service area when a fire rapidly took hold and could not be extinguished before terminal damage had been done. It was a bitterly disappointing start to what should be a seven-rally WRC programme for the Mexican with Motorsport Italia.

Several of the 28 entrants will be competing on Mexican gravel for the first time. One of those is young Finn Kalle Rovanperä, the son of 2002 Rally Mexico winner Harri Rovanperä. He has the backing of Skoda Motorsport for his WRC2 entry in a Fabia R5 alongside navigator Jonne Halttunen.

Competing against the Finn in a strong WRC2 field will be a 17-year-old Bolivian debutant, who also has a father with a keen motor sporting tradition. Marquito Bulacia drives one of four M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5s and has the backing, not only of father Marco, but also of the Bolivian President Evo Morales.

His plan to tackle Rally México and five other WRC events was launched at a reception in La Paz last week and the youngster has the added benefit of being used to competing at altitude. His father is a regular competitor in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and finished the recent Dakar Rally in 14th overall in a South Racing Ford Ranger.

The youngster, who won his class in the Bolivian Championship at the age of 15 and drove a Fiesta WRC to the semi-finals of the Bettega Memorial rallysprint in Bologna last December, said:
“I’m excited to represent my country and I am very proud. It’s incredible, a dream come true.”
Wednesday is the second day of stage reconnaissance for competitors and pre-event scrutineering for P2, P3 and Non-Priority drivers.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing hopes to reach new heights in Mexico

Posted: March 7, 2018 2:23 PM

The first gravel round of the season awaits the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team on Rally Mexico from March 8 to 11. On what is one of the toughest events of the season for the cars, the team hopes to demonstrate the progress made with the Toyota Yaris WRC and build upon a promising start to the year: the team sits second in the manufacturers’ championship (just one point behind first place) with Jari-Matti Latvala, Esapekka Lappi and Ott Tänak all within the top five in the drivers’ standings.

Rally Mexico is characterised by high ambient temperatures in the region of 30°C, as well as the altitude of the rally route. This reduces the amount of air available to the engines, which in turn cuts power by as much as 20 per cent.

The rally will begin in spectacular fashion on Thursday with a stage on the streets and through the tunnels of Guanajuato. Further spectator-friendly stages will be held on Leon’s streets and at the local racing circuit on both Friday and Saturday. Friday’s schedule also includes two runs of the El Chocolate stage: the longest stage of the rally at 31.44 kilometres and also featuring the highest point of the season at more than 2700 metres above sea level. The rally will conclude with three stages on Sunday, with the second pass of Las Minas serving as the Power Stage.

Quotes:

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“We have done quite a lot of work to improve from last year, when Mexico was quite tough for us with our new car. Since then we have analysed everything that happened. We have improved the cooling, and we have improved the engine. We have even been in an altitude dyno in Japan. We have put quite a lot of effort into these areas and I hope that altogether, it will be enough to give us a competitive package, but we will only know for sure once the rally gets underway.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“I always like going to Mexico and enjoying the warmth and the sun for the first time after the winter. The stages have sections that are very fast and sections that are very slow, and there are a lot of loose rocks off the line so you have to be precise with your driving. If we can finish on the podium that would be really good for the championship. It’s clear that the performance is there in the car. We had a good gravel test in Spain last week: of course in Mexico it is going to be warmer but it is the best you can do in Europe at this time of the year. We had some updates to the suspension and I could feel that the traction and the grip under braking are better than what we had at the end of last year.”

Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“Rally Mexico will be my first event on gravel in the Yaris WRC. I have many new things to learn, but we had two days of testing in Spain last week which were very useful. We tried as many different things as possible, just to understand how the car reacted. The early feeling with the car on gravel is quite good: there are still some things to get used to and some things that we can develop. In Mexico we will have a better road position, starting fifth. The road sweeping has a big effect there, so this should help us. I have quite a bit of experience in Mexico now, so I feel comfortable going there and I think we have a good chance to fight for the top positions.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“This will be the first time that I have competed in Mexico, although I did do the recce last year so I have some idea of what to expect. The surface is similar to the gravel roads in Spain, where everybody has done their pre-event testing, but I think the stages will be much rougher on the second pass. The altitude will also make a big difference: I have never driven those kind of conditions where the air is really thin. It means there is less power from the engine, so you may have to drive in a slightly different way. I am quite happy with how my season has started and hopefully we can continue that in Mexico. The main target for me though has to be to do every stage and gain that experience for the future.”

Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Rally Mexico

Posted: March 7, 2018 2:22 PM

Hyundai Motorsport will be aiming to keep hold of its advantage in the manufacturers’ standings, as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) heads across the Atlantic for Rally Mexico, round three of the 13-event season.

As the first full gravel event of the season, Rally Mexico will offer a stark contrast to the two opening rounds of the 2018 championship. With the rally’s geographical position at high altitude and typically hot climate, the event is often punishing for cars with engine power at a premium in thinner air.

Reaching new heights

Hyundai Motorsport will once again field three crews with Andreas Mikkelsen in the #4 car, drivers’ championship leader Neuville in the #5, and Spaniard Dani Sordo returning for his second event of the season in the #6 car.

All three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews spent time putting the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC through its paces near to Girona in Spain, replicating some of the conditions expected in Mexico next week.

Rally Mexico has been a happy hunting ground for Hyundai Motorsport in the past four years. The team memorably scored its debut WRC podium in the event in 2014, while scoring its first top-three result of last season on the Mexican gravel.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We were pleased to show a much improved performance in Sweden, with results more representative of what we know we can achieve. Just looking at the overall positions of the manufacturers’ championship, it’s clear to see how close the competition is. Mexico will be a different prospect, so we have to tackle the event with realistic expectations. Thierry will be first on the road, as a result of his drivers’ championship position, so we have to accept the job he will have of cleaning the stages. That’s part of the game. Overall, we are hoping to defend our lead in the championship in this early phase of the season by scoring another strong team result.”

Fresh focus for HMDP Finns

The Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP) crew of Jari Huttunen and Antti Linnaketo will contest their second WRC2 round of the season in Mexico, following a strong season debut in Sweden. The Finns scored two stage wins on the tricky Norwegian and Swedish stages, outpacing far more experienced crews, ultimately finishing sixth. Without losing over four minutes in a snow bank on Saturday, the crew would almost certainly have been in the hunt for a podium finish.

Nandan added: “We were all impressed with how Jari and Antti approached Rally Sweden, and with their performance. It was intended to be a learning experience for the crew, in their first full WRC 2 campaign. They were able to show some good speed and consistency, regularly battling for top-three stage times. Mexico will offer them another valuable weekend of learning on gravel, and we look forward to seeing what they can do in their first participation at this event.”

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Opened podium account for team with third place in Sweden
Best Rally Mexico result of third in 2015

Mikkelsen said: “Rally Mexico is an event I’ve done three times in the past. It’s a beautiful rally with stages that are similar from one season to the next, so we know them well. It is always a warm event, so we have to take extra care of the brakes. It is also quite a rough rally, which means it very easy to make a mistake. There is typically a lot of road cleaning, and with stages being held at altitude the engine is down on power, so it requires a slight change of driving style. After finishing on the podium in Sweden, our first one with Hyundai Motorsport, I’m ready to fight for another strong result.”

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
First win of 2018 in Sweden; his seventh in total with Hyundai Motorsport
Top of drivers’ championship means first on the dusty Mexican stages

Neuville said: “We head to Mexico on the back of our fantastic win in Sweden, so our motivation and morale could not be higher. Mexico is a nice event and one that brings back good memories. I got my first podium there in 2013, and then scored Hyundai Motorsport’s first ever podium just one year later. The rally has a more relaxed atmosphere, and it’s generally a lot calmer for the drivers. We arrive a bit earlier than normal in order to acclimatise and adjust to the time difference. It is the first event of the year with higher temperatures – and altitude – making it a unique and enjoyable challenge.”

WRC Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Second WRC event of the 2018 season
Two top-five finishes in Mexico with Hyundai Motorsport, including near podium in 2016

Sordo said: “I was pleased to see the team score its first win of the season in Sweden, and I am happy to be returning to the line-up for Rally Mexico. I have always enjoyed driving on the Mexican stages, which are lined with many passionate rally fans, who cheer and support us throughout the weekend. Road cleaning in Mexico can create a big difference between those first on the road and those behind. I hope we can benefit a bit from our position and compete near the front to help the team defend our manufacturers’ championship lead.”

HMDP Crew Notes: Huttunen/Linnaketo (#32 Hyundai i20 R5)
Sixth in WRC2 in Rally Sweden with two stage wins
Demonstrated impressive pace against more experienced crews

Huttunen commented: “In general I was satisfied with our rally in Sweden and happy with the performance of the Hyundai i20 R5. There were areas where we could have made some improvements, but there were lots of positive points we could take away as well. Mexico will be a brand new experience, as I have never competed there before, so it won’t be as easy. Our focus is on having a clean rally, and using the event as another valuable learning experience. Of course, we would like to show some good pace as well, but we know the WRC 2 contest is tough. We had a few days of testing in Europe to prepare ourselves and the car for the conditions we expect in Mexico, so I think we’re as ready as we can be.”

THE C3 WRCS HEAD FOR THE CLOUDS

Posted: March 7, 2018 2:20 PM

After the bitterly cold temperatures of Sweden, where Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT secured its first podium of 2018, the World Rally Championship heads across the Atlantic to the milder climate and high altitudes of Mexico, the setting for this year's third round. Mexico sees the much anticipated return of Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who line up alongside Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle as the team looks to confirm its good start to the season.

AN EXPERIENCED DUO

There is no substitute for experience and this is especially true at Rally Mexico. The combined effects of high altitudes and high temperatures put the cars under stresses that are not encountered elsewhere. Its specific features are therefore so difficult to reproduce in European testing that you need to get miles under your belt here in order to have a chance of getting among the frontrunners. With seven wins from the thirteen times the rally has been contested as part of the WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT has the experience required to do well at this, the third round of the season and the first on gravel. This is especially the case as this year's line-up features Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle, who scored the brand's most recent win here last year, and Sébastien Loeb – Daniel Elena, who claimed the first six (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012).

Whilst he initially made the most of his road position to lead in the early stages in 2017, Kris Meeke then did more than just hold off the consistent attacks of the now five-time world champion. He went on to secure a deserved maiden win for the C3 WRC, despite a major scare in the last few metres. The driver/co-driver pairing therefore know that they can be competitive at this event, which is why they have genuine hopes of a result at this year's rally, as they aim to confirm the team's successful start to the season. The situation will be slightly different for Sébastien Loeb, however, as the 44 year-old returns for the first round of a three-rally programme (also including the Tour de Corse and Rally de Catalunya) for the team with which he began his career. With his last outing at a WRC rally going back to Monte-Carlo 2015 and his final full season as long ago as 2012, the nine-time world rally champion – whilst remaining very active in other categories – is very likely to be short on time in a rally car. He is also bound to lack knowledge of the stages and this new generation of WRCs, compared with the increasingly tough competition. But there is no doubt that he has the talent to spring a surprise at one of his favourite events.

TYRE CHOICE MAY BE KEY

The local roads are reputed for their variety and for the opportunities they offer the teams to really express themselves. However, they also feature a fine layer of sandy gravel that tends to be swept clean as more cars complete the stages, which is why it is so important to have a good first day. Tyre choice may have a significant influence on the outcome… With less wear than usual, due both to the sandy, loose ground and the reduced power of the cars, teams and drivers often end up hesitating – despite the heat – between Michelin's hard and soft tyres. Yet another difficulty at an event that is hardly lacking in that department!

WHAT THEY SAID

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"The aim will be to pick up where we left off in Sweden. We know the specifics of this rally very well and claimed the C3 WRC's first ever win here. However, we also know perfectly well that the season's opening round on gravel is unusual, mainly due to the altitude, and that can shake things up completely. Kris is comfortable here, as he showed in 2017, and will be in a good position to record another strong result. Lastly, I'm delighted to see Sébastien and Daniel back with the team. Although they are bound to lack momentum compared with the competition, they continue to show the same professionalism and determination as when they first started out, and will hope to do well here. With Kris and Paul, we have a very impressive, experienced line-up!"

Kris Meeke
"Mexico is a bit like Catalonia, one of the gravel rallies where we were pretty competitive last year. Since then, we have made further improvements to the C3 WRC, so I have high hopes that we can get among the frontrunners. Of course, a lot of our rivals had reliability issues related to the altitude last year and are bound to be a lot better prepared this time around. It's definitely an event that I like: as the full power of the cars is not available, you have to be as clean as possible in your driving. I'm also pretty pleased with our recent tests. We seem to have made more progress, especially on the dampers in conjunction with Öhlins. That was Sébastien's impression too. In any case, I'm really looking forward to it. We need to make the most of running seventh on the road on day one – that will be key in getting a good result."

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 1st (2017)

Sébastien Loeb
"This is a rally that I have always loved, so I have high hopes I will enjoy these stages in the C3 WRC, which is an exciting car to drive. Other than that, I have the same uncertainties as everyone else: although I hope to be more or less on the pace, I have no idea where I stand in relation to the other drivers, so I can't wait to get started! You have to bear in mind that this is still the world championship! The other drivers haven't stood still over the last few years… In any case, I'm pleased with the testing we did. I covered almost 500 kilometres in two days. I found the C3 WRC well balanced and I felt that it had improved again since my last test outing at the end of 2017. I have tried to give myself every chance by spending some time in a DS3 WRC beforehand to get the feeling and my reflexes back, and by watching some onboard video footage from previous rallies. 28% of the course is going to be new to me, compared with just 4% for the others, but that's pretty positive because it is one of the events I still know best. However, my memories of the 72% that I have driven before go back six years, so I've done a little bit of work so that I don't feel completely disorientated. I hope my position in Friday's running order (11th) will help me to get my bearings because with the current regulations, you really need to have a good first day, otherwise your rally suffers."

Number of appearances at the event: 8
Best result: 1st (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012)

KEY FIGURES

22 timed stages covering a total of 344,49 km
2,737 metres above sea level for the highest point of the rally, compared with 1,786 metres at the base in Leon
7 overall wins secured by Citroën at Rally Mexico: six with Loeb-Elena (2006 in a Xsara WRC, 2007, 2008 and 2010 in a C4 WRC, 2011 and 2012 in a DS3 WRC) and one with Meeke-Nagle (2017 in a C3 WRC)
10 % the percentage loss of power for every 1,000 metres above sea level

A RALLY, A CHALLENGE

The influence of altitude

With an average altitude of 2,200 metres – peaking at 2,737 metres above sea level – and temperatures of around twenty-five degrees, Mexico provides a challenge like no other rally, testing the reliability of the cars to the max. In these conditions, the lack of oxygen means that special attention must be paid not only to cooling the engine, but also the hydraulic components and the brakes, particularly by adjusting the size of the radiators used. The other adverse side effect is the loss of power, that the engine specialists attempt to mitigate every year by improving mapping during test sessions at altitude and on engine test beds. This is because at this time of year, temperatures are more likely to be sub-zero than in the mid-twenties at European testing sites located at 2,000 metres above sea level or higher…

CITROËN SECRETS

Daniel Grataloup, the team's sporting coordinator, recalls…
"I remember the Kris' eventful final stage here in 2017: there is often a slight discrepancy between the TV pictures and how things are actually going, so I prefer to follow the action by watching the tracking and times that come up. All of a sudden, I heard people around me from the team cry out, and the first pictures that I saw on screen were of the undergrowth from the exterior onboard camera, as if the car had rolled. For a second, I thought it's over. And then we saw Kris trying to find his way out of the spectator car park, and I was taken over by completely the opposite feeling when he finally managed to make it across the finish line, with enough time in hand to still win the race! What an emotional roller-coaster! I was in tears at the end, especially as it was such a timely result after our difficult start to the season. It also has to be said that I'm a bit sensitive! In any case, the most intense emotions of my second career have undoubtedly been experienced with Kris: the last time I cried was when he won Rally Finland in 2016."

M-SPORT FORD TARGET RETURN TO FORM IN MEXICO

Posted: March 7, 2018 2:16 PM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are targeting a return to form on the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Taking to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC at next week’s Rally Mexico, Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen all have a chance of challenging for the podium.

The team conducted their pre-event test in Spain, only for it to be cut short by the wintry weather that has engulfed much of Europe. The Beast from the East may have cut the test from five days to three, but the Cumbrian squad remain well-prepared thanks to Ford’s invaluable technical support.

Making use of the Blue Oval’s state-of-the-art Climatic Chamber in Dunton, the team are able to replicate the altitude and expected temperatures which – combined with the data from the test – allows the engineers to configure the best maps and set-up for the challenges ahead.

RALLY MEXICO
HIGH ALTITUDE; UNIQUE ATMOSPHERE

Rally Mexico is a truly unique event on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar. As one of the most colourful and exciting events of the year, it’s also one of the most challenging with sweltering heat and high altitude taking its toll on crews and cars alike.

The 30°C heat can be closer to 50°C in the cockpit. The crews must be in peak physical condition and every technical component must be able to withstand the punishing temperatures.

If that weren’t enough, the stages climb more than 2,700 meters above sea level where the oxygen-starved air can see engine performance reduced by as much as 20 percent. The drivers must adjust their driving to contend with the reduced power, and the engineers must do their research to ensure maximum performance throughout the weekend.

The gravel stages can also be rough going, especially over the second pass, and the crews must maintain their concentration levels to avoid the pitfalls that make this event a rally of attrition.

In short, Rally Mexico is one of the most challenging events of the year, but it is also one of the most vibrant. The Mexican fans have taken rallying to their hearts and their enthusiasm is best captured in the historic town of Guanajuato.

The colours, sights and sounds are not to be missed, and the opening super special through the town’s former mining tunnels epitomise the atmosphere which surrounds this unique event.

MALCOLM WILSON
TEAM PRINCIPAL

Team Principal Malcolm Wilson is determined to see the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC make a return to the FIA World Rally Championship podium at next week’s Rally Mexico.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We were expecting the championship to be closer than ever this year, and the fact that all four manufacturers are separated by just 11 points is proof of that. If we want to regain our place at the head of the standings, we need to deliver a strong team result in Mexico and I’m confident that we can launch a return to form next week.

“The last two days of our test might have been disrupted by the wintry weather, but we were still able to collect a lot of good data – both from the test and from two days of work at Ford’s Climatic Chamber in Dunton. We have three very capable drivers who are all hungry for a good result, and the whole team are determined to see the Fiesta make a return to the podium.”

OGIER AND INGRASSIA
SECOND IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Rally Mexico holds fond memories for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. The Frenchmen made their FIA World Rally Championship debut at the event in 2008 – claiming the Junior WRC victory as well as their very first championship points with an impressive eighth place overall.

Since that initial outing, the event has become a happy hunting ground for the reigning World Champions with three victories and six podiums on Mexican soil.

No longer opening the road, Ogier will have a good chance of adding to his podium tally next week but will still have his work cut out with a number of competitive drivers benefitting from a much cleaner road behind.

Previous starts: 9
Best result: 1st (2013, 2014 and 2015)

Sébastien Ogier said:
There’s always a special feeling when we return to Rally Mexico – because it’s where everything started for me 10 years ago! It was our first event in the world championship, and the story started with victory in the Junior WRC.

“Since then we added a couple of podiums and victories at the highest level which means that I obviously have Rally Mexico in my heart! We’ll for sure do our best to continue this love story with another strong result and are looking forward to the great Mexican atmosphere!

“This might be the first gravel event of the year, but it has its own unique character which sets it apart from the more traditional gravel rallies. The altitude is higher than anything else we experience throughout the year and the thinner air means a lot less power than we’re used to.

“Those conditions – linked with the pretty high temperatures – are practically impossible to reproduce in Europe which means we are counting even more than usual on the job done by our engineers in the climatic chamber to get the maximum performance.

“The loose gravel can also pose something of a challenge for the early runners and, even though we won’t be the first car on the road next week, there will still be a lot of fast drivers behind us. We need to try and stay as close as we can on Friday morning. Then, we can see where we are and push for the best possible result.”

EVANS AND BARRITT
TENTH IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt will be looking to rejuvenate their season next week, and what better place to do it than Rally Mexico. Having twice finished the event just shy of the podium, the Brits will be hoping to challenge for a top-three result once again next week.

Benefitting from a more advantageous road position, the pairing will have a good chance of making their mark. But their later running order doesn’t come without its challenges with a constant threat of rally-ending rocks being pulled onto the racing line.

Evans will have to have his wits about him, but has every chance of challenging for a strong result in Mexico.

Previous starts: 3
Best result: 4th (2014 and 2015)

Elfyn Evans said:
“Rally Mexico is an event that I really enjoy. It’s such a colourful rally with a great atmosphere and we’ve done well there in the past. It’s one of those events where a clever run can deliver the results. You need to get the balance between speed and risk just right, and that’s exactly what we’ll be aiming for next week.

“When you think about this event two things come to mind – the heat and the altitude. We’ve got to get quickly acclimatised to the environment – both in terms of our physical fitness and our driving style. The thinner air can see the power reduced by as much as 20 percent so you’ve got to be tidy and keep the momentum through the corners.

“We’ll have a good road position, but that’s not without its challenges as there’s an added risk of rocks being pulled onto the racing line. We’ll need to stay focused and hopefully we can deliver a strong result to kick-start our 2018 campaign.”

SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
THIRTEENTH IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula will have much to learn when they tackle Rally Mexico for the first time with a world rally car next week.

Having secured the WRC 2 victory at the event in 2016, the pairing are no strangers to the taste of the winners’ customary Corona, but next week’s encounter will be a completely different challenge.

Despite his pre-event test being cancelled due to bad weather, Suninen remains capable of a strong result. A cleaner road and the reduced power of the cars could play to his advantage, and spectators should not be surprised to see some good times from the number three Fiesta

Previous starts: 1
Best result: 9th (2016)

Teemu Suninen said:

"Mexico is one of the special events on the calendar where we face some really extreme conditions. The weather is always warm, and the high altitude means that we feel the lack of oxygen. It has an effect on the drivers, but also on the cars with 20 percent less power than the more traditional gravel events.

“It’s a shame that the winter weather prevented us from testing, but that’s the way it goes sometimes and we will have to make good use of the Shakedown to get accustomed to the feeling of driving here in Mexico.

“It’s difficult to estimate our chances next week. I won the WRC 2 class here a few years ago, but this year will be completely different and I expect the competition to be really tough. I’ll try to concentrate on my own driving and then we will see where we are.”

Entry List

Posted: February 23, 2018 3:59 PM

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Posted: December 31, 2017 8:42 PM

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