WRC Rally Guanajuato Mexico offers first WRC gravel rally test of new season

RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO 2013, March 7-10, 2013
2013 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3

For immediate release
Tuesday, March 5th, 2013


· Mexican organisers introduce two new special stages in compact route
· Frenchman Ogier aims to continue Volkswagen’s superb start to year

LEÓN (Mexico): The 10th Rally Guanajuato Mexico has a different feel to it this year with the absence of six-time winner Sébastien Loeb, but the Frenchman’s limited WRC programme in 2013 will not detract from what promises to be a fascinating third round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Starting with two short special stages in Guanajuato on Thursday evening, the first gravel round of the new season has attracted 12 Priority 1 drivers and six WRC2 teams among a 27-car entry. Teams will tackle 23 timed special stages before the finish in León on Sunday afternoon.

M-Sport and Citroën face a real challenge to continue their run of podium results over the specialist Mexican tracks with the emergence of Volkswagen Motorsport as a major force in this year’s WRC following a superb debut victory in Sweden last month. Volkswagen currently trail the French factory team by just two points in the early season race to be top of the FIA Manufacturers’ Championship.

The German team has left nothing to chance in its preparations for a first fully-blown assault at the event and altitude testing has been carried out with the Polo R WRC to ensure that both championship leader Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are competitive from the outset. The team visited Mexico in November for a short test session and have also run the Polo’s engine in a climate chamber in Germany to simulate Mexican rally conditions.

“In Mexico, we have to complete seven special stages that are over 30km long,” admitted Ogier. “That means we must be top fit in order to stay 100% focused at all times. I also came here a few days early in order to get used to the time difference and to catch up a bit of sun on the beach in Cancún!”

Citroën’s Mikko Hirvonen finished second overall in 2011 and 2012 and has carried out pre-event testing for Mexico in the Algarve region of Portugal. “The car (DS3) has changed quite a lot since last year in Mexico and we introduced a big suspension step in Finland. The engineers have also worked on the engine and I am pleased with what we have achieved. I think we have a really good chance to win, but Volkswagen showed their pace in Sweden and I believe they will be fast here as well.”

Rally organisers have introduced two new stages to the format: a 2.6km sprint through Guanajuato’s Bicentennial Park follows the opening 1.05km Monster street stage on Thursday evening and a daunting 30.57km El Chocolate special will be repeated twice on Friday.

Liaison distances have been reduced by around 15%, but the rally still features 394.88 competitive kilometres with several sections climbing to over 2,500 metres above sea level in high temperatures. Revisions make this event one of the most compact rallies in the history of the WRC.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) crews complete their reconnaissance of the timed stages that will decide the outcome of this year’s Rally Guanajuato Mexico.

FIA World Rally Championship – positions after round 2

1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) 46 pts
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) 43 pts
3. Mads Østberg (NOR) 24 pts
4. Dani Sordo (ESP) 15 pts
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 14 pts
6. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) 12 pts
6. Martin Prokop (CZE) 12 pts
8. Bryan Bouffier (FRA) 10 pts
8. Thierry Neuville (BEL) 10 pts
10. Juha Hanninen (FIN) 8 pts, etc

1. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 57 pts
2. Volkswagen Motorsport 55 pts
3. Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team 31 pts
4. Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team 15 pts
5. Lotos WRC Team 12 pts
6. Qatar World Rally Team 10 pts
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 8 pts


For further media information:
Guanajuato Rally Mexico 2013, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, Tel: + 52 (477) 711-3688 or + 52 (477) 711-3774, E-mail: eugenio@rallymexico.com, mauriciog@rallymexico.com or ndppublicity@googlemail.com



Date issued: 05/03/2013

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