Craig Breen joins the hosts of Red Bull TV for an in-depth analysis into Rally Mexico and the exciting season to date. Having finished fifth on both the opening rounds of the championship this year – in Monte-Carlo and Sweden – the Irishman is only doing the recce for Mexico: which means that he’ll be able to bring another driver’s eye perspective during the rally to Red Bull TV. Resident expert Breen, will be host alongside local legend Tavo Vildolosa and Red Bull TV presenter, Mike Chen.
After first appearing on the World Championship calendar in 2004, Rally Mexico is now one of the season’s most popular rallies. The people from the León region quickly turned from curious onlookers into big fans of the WRC and the crews are now welcomed like heroes! This year, the excitement will be even greater than before, since this will be the first competitive outing of the World Rally Cars on gravel.
The major standout feature of the Mexican event, however, has little to do with the road surface. Varying between 1,800 and 2,700 metres above sea level, it is the altitude that makes life difficult for the engineers. The lack of oxygen has an adverse effect on both engine power and the cooling systems of the various components. It’s set to be a challenging weekend of racing.
Huge crowds will pack the iconic Zócalo square in Mexico City to watch exciting new-era World Rally Cars fight for tenths of a second at the opening two speed tests of Rally Guanajuato Mexico, the third round of the 2017 season. And those in the UK will be able to catch the historic moment on Red Bull TV.
Mexico City ranks on the fringes of the world’s top 10 biggest population cities and Zócalo is perhaps best known as the location for the amazing helicopter stunts which launched ‘Spectre’ in 2015.
The rally will build a 1.57km asphalt test in the square and surrounding streets, an area more accustomed to receiving foreign heads of state and hosting national celebrations than echoing to the sound of new-specification World Rally Cars. It will be driven twice by all the WRC’s star drivers, including championship leader and 2016 rally winner Jari-Matti Latvala and four-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, to provide a full evening’s entertainment.
Afterwards cars and competitors will be transported 400km south-east to the rally base of León for three days of high-temperature dirt road special stages in the mountains of the Guanajuato region.
Mexico City’s mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera has given his full support to the event and majestic colonial buildings surrounding the square will be used to host the official pre-event press conference, a media centre and drivers’ relaxation room.
“We’re delighted to have been invited there by the authorities in Mexico City,” said rally director Patrick Suberville.
“The country is so passionate about motorsport. Presentations were held in the square when Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship came to Mexico City, but WRC is the first to have cars actually competing there. We’re very proud,” he said.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said there was a massive sense of anticipation within the championship.
“Mexico City boasts a population of more than 20 million people and since the championship’s launch in 1973, it’s hard to identify another city event quite as spectacular as we believe this will be. I’m sure the skills of our WRC drivers will be a match for James Bond at the wheel!” he said.
Zócalo is the latest example of Rally Mexico’s innovative approach. In recent years the rally has been launched with a unique underground special stage through former silver mine tunnels in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Guanajuato. That will now be driven near the end of the first full day’s competition on Friday 10 March. The rally comprises 19 stages covering 370.46 km before finishing in León on Sunday 12 March.
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