WRC World class field begins recce for 13th Rally Guanajuato Corona
RALLY GUANAJUATO CORONA 2016, March 3-6, 2016
2016 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3
For immediate release
Tuesday, March 1st, 2016
WORLD CLASS FIELD SEIZES OPPORTUNITY TO RECCE DEMANDING
STAGES FOR FIRST GRAVEL RALLY OF NEW WRC SEASON IN MEXICO
· Mammoth Guanajuato special stage set to be largest in WRC for 30 years
· New co-driver for M-Sport World Rally Team’s French driver Eric Camilli
LEÓN (Mexico): Competitors are taking full advantage of two days of permitted reconnaissance to take a look at the challenging route of 21 special stages that lie ahead at this week’s 13th Rally Guanajuato Corona, round three of the FIA World Rally Championship.
An unofficial 29 cars and drivers from 17 nations will tackle a series of gravel tests in the mountainous areas around León, Silao and Guanajuato. They will also compete over several shorter spectator stages laid on to bring the sport of rallying to a wider Mexican audience in Guanajuato and León between Thursday evening and Sunday lunchtime.
The potential start list includes 12 Priority 1 drivers, nine P2 teams and eight other entrants, all of whom will be hoping for a safe and successful rally when the event gets underway outside the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in the historic centre of Guanajuato from 19.00hrs on Thursday evening.
One driver missing from the official entry list is last year’s WRC 2 winner and two-time Dakar champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. The Qatari is attempting to qualify for the Rio Olympics as a member of the Qatari skeet shooting team and is attending a competition in Cyprus to further his qualification bid. Al-Attiyah won a bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012.
Another change is the return of Benjamin Veillas to partner Eric Camilli in the M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ford Fiesta RS. The pair worked together in WRC 2 last season before Veillas was replaced by Nicolas Kilnger for the opening two rounds of the season in Monte-Carlo and Sweden. Accidents sidelined the duo on both occasions and Veillas has stepped into the fold for Mexico and the rest of the season. The pair was re-acquainted at a test session in Spain last week.
Teams began their reconnaissance of the special stages today (Tuesday) and will finish tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.
World Champion Sébastien Ogier makes his 100th WRC start in Mexico this week. He and navigator Julian Ingrassia will be hoping to achieve a fourth successive win on the event, a feat that would also hand Volkswagen Motorsport victory on a 12th consecutive round of the series – a feat the German team also achieved between rallies in Australia and Finland in 2013 and 2014.
Running behind the World Rally Cars is the highly competitive WRC 2 Championship and one driver challenging for that title this year is Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari in a Skoda Fabia R5.
“It’s great to be back here and rallying again with Abdulaziz,” said Irish co-driver Killian Duffy who returns to the passenger seat to replace Marshall Clarke, who was injured in a crash at the recent Qatar Rally. “Both of us have superb memories of our time together in Mexico three years ago when we won the WRC 2 category. We carried out a shakedown test with several other drivers on Monday and feel confident that we can repeat our win again this week.”
Hyundai Motorsport claimed a first ever WRC podium finish in Mexico two years ago and the Korean manufacturer will be hoping for a third successive podium finish of the season in the New Generation i20 WRC - Thierry Neuville was third in Monte-Carlo and Hayden Paddon was second in Sweden. Neuville and Dani Sordo drive in Mexico under the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team banner, while Paddon is entered for the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team.
The event will be fought out over 21 timed special stages, although race officials have made several changes to the route itinerary for 2016. The Las Minas and Otates stages are identical to those used in 2015, although the León super special stage is divided into two heats, as was the case in 2014, and the El Chocolate special features a new 16.41km section at the start.
Ibarrilla will be run in a reverse direction to 2015, El Brinco has been shortened by one kilometre and the Aqua Zarca Power Stage featured sections of the old Ibarrilla special.
The punishing Guanajuato stage on Sunday morning featured parts of last year’s monster Guanajuatito special that have been combined and extended to run for a staggering 80km. This will be the largest special stage in the WRC for 30 years and may take some competitors over an hour to complete.
For further media information:
Rally Guanajuato Corona 2016, Media Centre, Poliforum Expo Centre, León, Mexico, E-mail: Adrian@rallymexico.com or firstname.lastname@example.org