WRC Solberg and Patterson lead after street stage in Mexico

RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO, March 3rd-6th, 2011
2011 FIA World Rally Championship, round 2

For immediate release
Thursday, March 3rd, 2011


· Frenchman Loeb holds second position; third for Ogier
· Al-Attiyah draws first blood in battle for supremacy in S2000 WRC
· Sébastien Ogier sets fastest time in morning’s shakedown stage
· Rally América crews boost Rally Guanajuato Mexico event entry

LEÓN (Mexico): Norway’s Petter Solberg and British co-driver Chris Patterson held a tiny 0.2 second advantage after the opening 1.05km street stage of the 2011 Rally Guanajuato Mexico, held in front of thousands of fans in Guanajuato City on Thursday evening.

Twenty-four cars crossed the start line of Mexico’s seventh WRC event and Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena set the second fastest time in their Citroën DS3 WRC. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were third in a similar car to ensure a clean sweep of the podium places for the French manufacturer on the opening stage.

The spectator stage in Guanajuato – a UNESCO world heritage site - took place in darkness immediately after the ceremonial start outside the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in the centre of the city. The stage ran over narrow cobbled streets and mining tracks.

The event also marks the first round of the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship and Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah set the fastest time of 56.7s to hold the early advantage.

Sébastien Ogier had set the quickest time in the morning’s shakedown stage. “Three years ago was my first time in the WRC and it was like a dream,” said Ogier. “I finished eighth overall and first Junior. Last year I was on the podium. It is nice to be here again and I hope to get another result because this is one of my favourite rallies.”

The Frenchman pipped second-placed Petter Solberg (2m 51.9s) and Citroën Total team mate Sébastien Loeb (2m 52.9s) on the shakedown with a fastest run of 2m 51.7s. Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth with a best run of 2m 53.3s.

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah had been the quickest of the five S2000 runners on the shakedown. The Qatari recorded a best run of 3m 06.9s in his Ford Fiesta S2000 to beat nearest Finnish rival Juho Hänninen by three-tenths of a second.

“It will not be easy to win here,” admitted Al-Attiyah at the pre-event press conference. “Always when we have a recce we find the roads smooth and that can change when we start the race. Okay, it will be different from last year because there are not so many cars this year. We try to do our best. The goal is to win the title.”

Rally América 2011 runs behind Rally Guanajuato Mexico

Twelve crews are also taking part in Rally América 2011, the national status rally running immediately behind the WRC event. Open to non-homologated and open class cars run by teams from Mexico, the United States of America and Canada, the objective of Rally America is to draw additional North American crews to Rally Mexico.

Robb Rill (Subaru WRX STi), Andrew Frick (Ford Focus ZX3), Bryan Watson (Volkswagen Rabbit), Jason Wong (Chrysler Plymouth Neon) and Williams Caswell (BMW) represent the USA on this occasion.

They line up against seven Mexican drivers: Andres Name and Jorge Gonzalez (Peugeot 206), David Jassam (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX), Guilherme Sanchez (Mitsubishi Lancer DE), Gulhermo Campos and Pablo Gutierrez (Renault Clio RS) and Ivan Zaldivar (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII) complete the dozen crews running in the national rally.

Tomorrow (Friday – day 1)

Tomorrow (Friday) teams will tackle six gravel special stages, one run through a super special in León and two through a 2.21km super special stage to bring the day’s action to a conclusion.

Two passes through the 26.01km Alfaro stage are on the agenda, along with repeat runs through the Ortega and El Cubilete stages, but the final service of the day has been moved and crews will now tackle the short ninth and 10th specials after returning to the service park at the Poliforum in León.

Positions after SS1 (1.05km)
1. Petter Solberg (N)/Chris Patterson (GB) Citroën DS3 WRC 53.2s
2. Sébastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (F) Citroën DS3 WRC 53.4s
3. Sébastien Ogier (F)/Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroën DS3 WRC 53.7s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 54.4s
5. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 54.8s
6. Federico Villagra (RA)/Jorge Pérez-Companc (RA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 55.5s
7. Matthew Wilson (GB)/Scott Martin (GB) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 55.9s
7. Evgeny Novikov (RUS)/Stephane Prévot (B) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 55.9s
9. Mads Ostberg (N)/Jonas Andersson (N) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 56.0s
10. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Giovanni Bernacchini (I) Ford Fiesta S2000 56.7s
11. Henning Solberg (N)/Ilka Minor (A) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 56.9s
12. Dennis Kuipers (NL)/Frederic Miclotte (B) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 57.2s
13. Martin Prokop (CZ)/Jan Tománek (CZ) Ford Fiesta S2000 57.9s
14. Juho Hänninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Skoda Fabia S2000 58.4s
15. Ott Tanak (EE)/Kuldar Sikk (EE) Ford Fiesta S2000 58.7s, etc


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: media@rallymexico.com.




Date issued: 03/03/2011

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