The Loudon-clear guide to Rally Mexico

The Loudon-clear guide to Rally MexicoFrom Tunnocks (Stuart Loudon) [ 04/03/2017 ].
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Has there ever been a more eagerly awaited gravel rally in the history of our sport? I can't remember one. That's the way this year's World Rally Championship is playing out - every event is starting with huge anticipation of what lies ahead. If Monte and Sweden have taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected; the win for M-Sport and Sebastién Ogier on round one was a dream come true, but then chapter two in this fairytale season was delivered by Jari-Matti Latvala and Toyota Gazoo Racing. And all this against a backdrop of towering pace from Thierry Neuville and Hyundai.

So, who's going to win in Guanajuato next week? In all honesty, it's anybody's guess. And what a fantastic position that is. This kind of unpredictability can only be a good thing for the fans. Talking of good things for the fans, the television coverage has been captivating, compelling and more than capable of conveying the increased speed and excitement this new generation of World Rally Cars is producing.

In short, everything's rosey in our garden as we cross the Atlantic to give Mexico a wave.

Rally in detail

FIA World Rally Championship round 3/13 WRC - WRC2
Date: Thursday March 9 - Sunday March 12
Based: Léon
Service: Léon
Stages: 19
Competitive distance: 370.46km (230.20 miles)
Liaison distance: 528.90km (328.65 miles)
Total distance: 897.68km (557.81 miles)
Shortest stage: SS6 Street Stage Guanajuato 1.09km (0.67 miles)
Longest stage: SS2/4 El Chocolate 54.90km (34.11 miles)
Currency: Mexican Peso
Time difference: GMT -6
Language: Spanish
Mexico population: 119,530,753m
Capital: Mexico City
Sunrise: 0651
Sunset: 1844

The 5.31km (3.29 miles) shakedown stage is located at Llano Grande, 16.61km (10.32 miles) from the service park in Léon. The stage runs from 1600-1900 on Wednesday March 8.

Rally Guanajuato Mexico itinerary
Thursday March 9
SS1 Street Stage CDMX 1 1.57km (0.97 miles) 1805 (add on Rallye-info: this stage is now run twice as SS1x and SS1y)

Friday March 10
SS2 El Chocolate 1 54.90km (34.11 miles) 1128
SS3 Las Minas 1 19.68km (12.22 miles) 1236
Service Léon 1416
SS4 El Chocolate 2 54.90km (34.11 miles) 1614
SS5 Las Minas 2 19.68km (12.22 miles) 1722
SS6 Street Stage Guanajuato 1.09km (0.67 miles) 1834
SS7 SSS Autódromo de Léon 1 2.30km (1.42 miles) 1949
SS8 SSS Autódromo de Léon 2 2.30km (1.42 miles) 1954
Service Léon 2054

Saturday March 11
SS9 Media Luna 1 27.42km (17.03 miles) 0833
SS10 Lajas de Oro 1 38.31km (23.80 miles) 1001
SS11 El Brinco 1 10.09km (6.26 miles) 1108
Service Léon 1233
SS12 Media Luna 2 27.42km (17.03 miles) 1416
SS13 Lajas de Oro 2 38.31km (23.80 miles) 1549
SS14 El Brinco 2 10.09km (6.26 miles) 1637
SS15 SSS Autódromo de Léon 3 2.30km (1.42 miles) 1747
SS16 SSS Autódromo de Léon 4 2.30km (1.42 miles) 1752
Service Léon 1847
SS17 Street Stage Feria de Léon 1.33km (0.82 miles) 2050

Sunday March 12
SS18 La Calera 32.96km (20.48 miles) 1043
SS19 Derramadero Power Stage 21.94km (13.63 miles) 1218
Finish Léon 1430

2016 Rally Guanajuato Mexico result:
WRC: 1 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 4h25m57.4s; 2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1m:05.0s 3 Mads Ostberg/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) 5m36.4s.
WRC2: Teemu Suninen (Škoda Fabia R5)
WRC3: Michel Fabre/Maxime Vilmot (DS 3 R3T Max).

Top 10 running order:
9 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC)
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC)
6 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
3 Elfyn Evans/Dan Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC)
8 Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroën C3 WRC)
5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
4 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
7 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC)
10 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC)

Leading WRC Trophy runners:
12 Valeriy Gorban/Sergei Larens (Mini JCW WRC)
37 Lorenzo Bertelli/Simone Scattolin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)

Leading WRC2 runners:
30 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Škoda Fabia R5)
31 Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5)
32 Hubert Ptaszek/Maciek Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia R5)
33 Pedro Heller/Pablo Olmos (Ford Fiesta R5)
34 Benito Guerra/Daniel Cue (Škoda Fabia R5)

Stuart Loudon's key stage:
SS1 Street Stage CDMX 1 1.57km (0.97 miles) Travelling close to 500 miles for 0.97 miles of competition might sound a bit strange, but this stage in the middle of Mexico City is really important for the sport. Granted, it's not going to decide the outcome of the event - although a mistake here would not only be costly, but also pretty public - but it's the first time the World Rally Championship has visited the fifth most densely populated city on planet earth. Next week, more than 20 million people stand the chance of seeing a World Rally Car for the first time. And that's important.

Having worked with M-Sport World Rally Team on the first two rounds of the championship, I've seen the detail that goes into the logistical planning and a stage in Mexico City from a service park 250 miles north in León is not something that happens overnight. This one will doubtless have caused more than the odd headache, but in terms of exposure for the sport it has to be worth it.

Stuart will be watching…
#4 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) Hayden and John have had a really tough start to the season, but there's no doubting the pace these guys have and that Hyundai has shown itself to be pretty rapid as well. With the place on the road Hayden's got next week, I think he's going to be the one to watch.

Having said that, it would be pretty foolhardy to look beyond Séb [Ogier] as well. We've seen him dismiss his chances time and again in conditions as loose and gravelly as they will face next week, but the Frenchman always comes up with the goods. He'll have one car sweeping a line partially clean for him on the opening day in Mexico and that could well be enough for a fourth win in five years.

Weather with you:
The first serious sunshine of the season comes next week, when round three really hots up. Temperatures will be touching 30 degrees some days, but there is a little bit of cloud around early in the event and there's a threat that might even bring a spot or two of rain.

Recent winners Rally Guanajuato Mexico:
2006: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroën Xsara WRC)
2007: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroën C4 WRC)
2008: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroën C4 WRC)
2010: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroën C4 WRC)
2011: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (DS3 WRC)
2012: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (DS3 WRC)
2013: Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC)
2014: Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC)
2015: Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC)
2016: Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC)

Most successful driver on Rally Guanajuato Mexico:
Sébastien Loeb (6 wins)

Stuart's 2017 World Rally Championship stats…
Stages planned: 17
Stages run: 15
Total competitive distance travelled: 355.90km (221.15 miles)
Total distance travelled: 2827.03km (1756.71 miles)
Winners' total competitive time: 6h36m07.2s
Longest stage of the season: Aspres les Corps-Chaillol 38.94km (24.19 miles) Rallye Monte-Carlo
Shortest stage of the season: SSS Karlstad 1.90km (1.18 miles) Rally Sweden

Most WRC fastest times in 2017: Neuville 12; Latvala 6; Tanak 5; Ogier/Evans 3; Sordo 2; Lefebvre 1.

Most WRC stages led in 2017: Neuville 23; Latvala 6; Ogier 5.

Most WRC2 fastest times in 2017: Tidemand 11; Andreas Mikkelsen 9; Jan Kopecky/Ole Christian Veiby/Teemu Suninen 3; Bryan Bouffier/Eyvind Brynildsen 1.

Most WRC2 stages led in 2017: Mikkelsen 16; Tidemand 15; Veiby 3.

Most WRC3 fastest times in 2017: Louise Cook 14; Raphael Astier 11; Charles Martin 3; Luca Panzani 1.

Most WRC3 stages led in 2017: Astier 16; Cook 15.

Most R-GT fastest times in 2017: Romain Dumas 10; François Delecour 3; Fabio Andolfi 2.

Most R-GT stages led in 2017: Dumas 9; Delecour 4; Andolfi 3.