WRC Rally Guanjuato Mexico gets underway with street stage on Thursday evening
RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO, March 3rd-6th, 2011
2011 FIA World Rally Championship, round 2
For immediate release
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO GETS UNDERWAY WITH
STREET STAGE IN GUANJUATO ON THURSDAY EVENING
· Frenchman Loeb chases fifth victory in Rally Mexico
· Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen to defend seven-point series lead
· Five crews set to start opening round of FIA S2000 WRC
· Eight Mexican crews grace start list of round two of WRC
LEÓN (Mexico): Sébastien Loeb will be bidding for a fifth victory in Mexico since 2006 when the defending FIA World Rally Champion crosses the start line of the 2011 Rally Guanajuato Mexico on Thursday evening.
The Frenchman and co-driver Daniel Elena will also be hoping to give the new Citroën DS3 WRC its maiden victory in the World Championship and reduce Rally Sweden winner Mikko Hirvonen’s 15-point advantage in the Drivers’ Championship. Loeb continues to rewrite the record books and has taken seven successive FIA World Rally Championship titles (2004-2010) and a staggering 62 WRC wins since claiming his first victory in Germany in 2002.
The first gravel round of the series is sure to be a battle ground between the French manufacturer and Ford, which clinched a clean sweep of the podium places in Sweden last month with the Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Sébastien Ogier drives the second Citroën Total DS3 and there is a third French car for Norwegian privateer and former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg.
No less than nine of M-Sport’s new WRC creations grace the 25-car entry and a further three Ford Fiesta S2000s have been entered in the opening round of the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship alongside a pair of Skoda Fabias.
Eight Mexican crews complete the field for this year’s 22-stage event, which is scheduled to finish in León at 13.00 hrs on Sunday, March 6.
Hirvonen recorded his 13th WRC win in Sweden and will be hoping to move off this unlucky number of wins and extend his seven-point advantage over Norway’s Mads Østberg in the Drivers’ Championship on the demanding Mexican gravel stages that reach altitudes of over 2,700 metres above sea level and take place in temperatures in excess of 35 degrees Centigrade.
Ford Abu Dhabi team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala currently holds third position in the Drivers’ Championship and will be aiming for his fifth WRC win and his first since Finland last year.
Østberg drives one of four M-Sport Stobart Ford team cars alongside England’s Matthew Wilson, Norway’s Henning Solberg and Russia’s Evgeny Novikov. America’s Ken Block, Dutchman Dennis Kuipers and Munchi’s Rally Team’s Federico Villagra complete a line-up of 10 Priority 1 drivers.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah has already won three rallies in very different disciplines in 2011. The Qatari claimed a stunning win in the Dakar and followed that up with a ninth successive win in the Qatar Rally and a second victory in four years in Saudi Arabia’s Ha’il Baja.
He is one of five drivers entered in round one of the S2000 WRC and faces competition from fellow Ford Fiesta driver Martin Prokop and Estonian Ott Tanak. Finland’s Juho Hänninen and Estonia’s Karl Kruuda complete the S2000 line-up in Skodas.
Benito Guerra heads the eight-car Mexican contingent in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, with Rodrigo Salgado, Francisco Name and Michel Jourdain running Evolution IX versions of the Japanese four-wheel drive car.
Juan-Carlos Sarmiento, Luis Orduna, Guillermo Fonseca and Marcelino Segura complete the Mexican entry in a quartet of Peugeot 206 XSs.
Thursday evening’s ceremonial start in Guanajuato precedes the 22 special stages and 364.87 competitive kilometres in one of the most compact routes in the WRC.
Several of the crews carried out a pre-event test on Monday before embarking upon two days of policed reconnaissance of the special stages.
Tomorrow morning (Thursday) teams will attend the event shakedown before Al-Attiyah, Finland’s Juha Hänninen and Mikko Hirvonen, Frenchman Sébastien Ogier, American Ken Block and Dutchman Dennis Kuipers attend the official FIA pre-event press conference at the media centre in the Poliforum in León.
The ceremonial start will then take place in Guanajuato City at 20.00hrs and teams will then head straight into a timed 1.05km street stage from 20.06hrs.
Top 15 starters
1. Sébastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (F) Citroën DS3 WRC
2. Sébastien Ogier (F)/Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroën DS3 WRC
3. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
5. Henning Solberg (N)/Ilka Minor (A) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
6. Mads Ostberg (N)/Jonas Andersson (N) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
7. Federico Villagra (RA)/Jorge Pérez-Companc (RA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
8. Dennis Kuipers (NL)/Frederic Miclotte (B) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
9. Ken Block (USA)/Alex Gelsomino (USA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
10. Petter Solberg (N)/Chris Patterson (GB) Citroën DS3 WRC
11. Matthew Wilson (GB)/Scott Martin (GB) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
12. Martin Prokop (CZ)/Jan Tomanek (CZ) Ford Fiesta S2000
13. Karl Kruude (EE)/Martin Järveoja (EE) Skoda Fabia S2000
14. Juho Hänninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Skoda Fabia S2000
15. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Giovanni Bernacchini (I) Ford Fiesta S2000
FIA World Rally Championship – positions after round 1
1. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) 25 pts
2, Mads Østberg (N) 18 pts
3. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 16 pts
4. Sébastien Ogier (F) 15 pts
5. Petter Solberg 10 pts
6. Sébestien Loeb 10 pts
7. Per-Gunnar Andersson (S) 6 pts
8. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN) 4 pts
9. Matthew Wilson (GB) 2 pts
10. Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 1 pt
1. Ford Abu Dhabi 40 pts
2. Citroën Total 22 pts
3. M-Sport Stobart Ford 18 pts
4. Ice1 Racing 8 pts
5. Team Abu Dhabi 6 pts
6. FERM Power Tools 4 pts
7. Monster WRT 2 pts
For further media information:
2011 Guanajuato Rally Mexico Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, Tel: + 52 (477) 711-1475 or + 52 (477) 771-5365, E-mail: email@example.com.