WRC Rally Guanajuato Mexico offers first gravel challenge of 2012 WRC
RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO 2012, March 8-11, 2012
2012 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3
For immediate release
Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO MARKS FIRST GRAVEL
CHALLENGE IN 2012 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
· Mexican organisers introduce two new stages and route revisions
· Frenchman Loeb chases sixth Mexican victory and tops bumper entry
LEÓN (Mexico): After surviving the changeable tarmac surfaces of the Monte Carlo Rally in January and the frozen tracks of the Rally of Sweden last month, the FIA World Rally Championship arrives in Central America for this weekend’s Rally Guanajuato Mexico.
The first gravel rally of this year’s 13-round championship features 24 timed special stages over an extended competitive distance of 407.87km in a total route of 1,174.76km. There are two completely new special stages on Friday, with teams set to tackle the 15.21km Las Minas special around the local silver mines on two occasions and also two runs through a new 9.76km Los Mexicanos special.
In addition, the monster 54.30km Guanajuatito special has been modified and extended from 29.13km and revisions have been made to Friday’s 22.12km El Cubilete stage and other stage sections.
The event has also attracted an impressive entry of leading World Rally Cars with Frenchman Sébastien Loeb topping a field that includes 13 Priority One drivers and seven Mexican teams in a 31-car entry.
Loeb, partnered by regular co-driver Daniel Elena, will be chasing a sixth successive Mexican victory, as the eight-time World Champion bids to defend a seven-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship over his new Citroën team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.
“I prefer the conventional gravel stages here in Mexico,” admitted Loeb, a winner of a record-breaking 68 WRC rallies. “The mountain roads are generally wide and quick and there are some winding, narrow sections where you have to be more careful. The stages are fun to drive and you can see that the fans love it.”
Mexico will also see the return to rallying action of former Subaru works driver Chris Atkinson. The Australian teams up with Ken Block in the Monster Energy World Rally Team at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
The only WRC event in the Americas also marks the first gravel appearance of Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroën DS3 WRC and a crucial opportunity for Volkswagen Motorsport to continue the development of a new car under the guise of a pair of Skoda Fabia S2000s in the hands of Frenchman Sébastien Ogier and Dutchman Kevin Abbring.
Seven drivers will also take part in the PWRC category, with Poland’s Michal Kosciuszko, Sweden’s Ramona Karlsson and Italy’s Gianluca Linari leading the European contingent. The Pole leads the eight-round FIA Production Car World Rally Championship by seven points after taking a maximum score at round one in Monte Carlo.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) crews complete their reconnaissance of the 24 special stages that will decide the outcome of this year’s Rally Guanajuato Mexico. Cars will then pass through the stringent FIA scrutineering checks that ensure that they comply with their respective homologation papers and relevant rally category specifications.
The event gets underway with a 5.18km qualifying stage at 10.33hrs on Thursday morning and the ceremonial start in Guanajuato at 20.00hrs on Thursday evening. Round three of the WRC will draw to a close on Sunday afternoon (March 11th) with the final podium ceremony in Leon from 15.00hrs.
FIA World Rally Championship – positions after round 2
1. Sébestien Loeb (FRA) 39 pts
2. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) 32 pts
3. Petter Solberg (NOR) 29 pts
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 26 pts
5. Evgeny Novikov (RUS) 21 pts
6. Dani Sordo (ESP) 18 pts
7, Mads Østberg (NOR) 15 pts
8. Francois Delecour (FRA) 8 pts
9. Henning Solberg (NOR) 6 pts
10. Pierre Campana (FRA) 6 pts, etc
1. Citroën Total World Rally Team 65 pts
2. Ford World Rally Team 55 pts
3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 28 pts
4. Mini WRC Team 26 pts
5. Qatar World Rally Team 8 pts
For further media information:
Guanajuato Rally Mexico 2012, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, Tel: + 52 (477) 784-0599 or + 52 (477) 784-0627, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org