WRC World class entry begins reconnaissance of stages for Rally Guanajuato Corona in Mexico
RALLY GUANAJUATO CORONA 2015, March 5-8, 2015
2015 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3
For immediate release
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
WORLD CLASS ENTRY BEGINS RECONNAISSANCE OF
SPECIAL STAGES FOR RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO 2015
· Mexican debut for Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah’s co-driver Matthieu Baumel
· Hyundai Motorsport modifies fuel injection system to cope with altitude
· Top Mexican result crucial to Citroën Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
LEÓN (Mexico): The 12th Rally Guanajuato Corona takes place in central Mexico this weekend and marks the first of six successive gravel rallies that will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship.
Thirty-three cars and drivers from 22 nations will tackle 21 timed special stages in the mountainous areas around Leon, Silao and Guanajuato in what has become one of the most popular and challenging rounds of the world series since it joined the calendar for the first time in 2004.
This year’s event has attracted one of the strongest entries ever, with 15 World Rally Cars and 14 Priority 1 drivers set to line up at the ceremonial start, which takes place in front of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in the historic city of Guanajuato from 19.00hrs on Thursday evening.
Teams began their policed reconnaissance of the special stages today (Tuesday) and will finish on Wednesday. Many of the teams have been to Rally Guanajuato Corona on numerous occasions, but even some of the most experienced competitors have to enter the event for the first time.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah returns to defend his WRC2 title this season in a Ford Fiesta RRC and begins that defence here in Mexico with the French co-driver with whom he won the Dakar Rally in January and the Qatar International Rally in February. Matthieu Baumel has replaced Giovanni Bernacchini this season and, although the Frenchman has competed all over the world, this will be his first taste of rallying in Mexico.
“Everything here is completely new to me,” enthused Baumel. “The people have been fantastic, the scenery is stunning and I have been impressed with what I have seen of the stages so far. I am sure it will be a fantastic event.”
Volkswagen Motorsport start as firm favourites to continue their domination of the sport this year, having won the opening two rallies in Monte Carlo and Sweden. Their two-time FIA World Champion Sébastien Ogier won the last two events in Mexico and claimed victories on the opening two rounds of this year’s championship.
“The past two rallies in Mexico have shown how comfortable I feel here,” said Ogier. “Our Polo R WRC has coped superbly with the thin air at high altitude. We can only wait and see if our powerful engine can compensate for our early starting position this year.”
Hyundai Motorsport claimed a first ever WRC podium finish in Mexico last year and Belgian driver Thierry Neuville has been an integral part of the Korean manufacturer’s rapid rise through the ranks to being a competitive force in the WRC. Neuville narrowly missed out on outright victory in Sweden last month and arrives in Leon determined to improve on last year’s third overall.
“This has been one of my favourite rallies in recent years and the scene of some great results,” said the Belgian. “The team is pushing hard to develop the Hyundai i20 WRC and there are more improvements coming.”
Hyundai is planning to introduce an engine upgrade to cope with the higher altitude on the Mexican stages, where some of the sinuous gravel tracks reach heights of 2,700 metres above sea level. The i20 WRC will feature a modified fuel injection system, which team management are confident will eliminate power loss at altitude.
The Hyundais to be used by Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo were fine-tuned at a recent test session in Spain and underwent extra adjustments at the team’s European headquarters in Germany. Both Neuville and Hyundai currently hold second places in the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ standings after the recent Rally Sweden.
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has endured a difficult start to the new season and Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg realise the importance of achieving good results in Mexico. “I was disappointed with my first two results in Monte Carlo and Sweden, despite winning stages,” admitted Meeke. “I have to eliminate the mistakes to score points and turn my speed into results. I’m going to run my own race and I think our starting position will be an advantage.”
The duo will benefit from the latest 2015-specification DS3 WRCs, fitted with upgraded engines, transmission, chassis and suspension. “If we have a good feeling at the shakedown on Thursday, we will have to take advantage of that and push hard right from the start,” said Østberg.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) crews complete their reconnaissance of the timed stages that will decide the outcome of this year’s Rally Guanajuato Corona 2015.
For further media information:
Guanajuato Rally Mexico 2015, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, E-mail: Adrian@rallymexico.com or firstname.lastname@example.org