The WRC 2020 travels across the Atlantic Ocean for the celebration of the Rally Mexico 2020 this weekend (March 12th-15th), the third appointment of the WRC´s calendar. The competition leaves the winter races behind and moves into its first gravel stage. It is goodbye to the cold, the snow and the ice and hello to the sun, the heat and the dusty tracks.
The over 2,000-meter altitude and the high temperatures will put the men and their machines to the test at one of the most demanding but beloved appointments of the speciality. The reduced levels of oxygen in the atmosphere brought about by the altitude can have engines losing up to 20 per cent of their power.
As well as affecting the machines, the altitude at which the specials will take place Rally Mexico 2020 can also have a negative impact on the performance of the drivers. By the way, the reaction times of both the cars and the men can significantly slow down which means any mistake could trump anyone’s aspirations.
But these are not the only challenges that the WRC drivers will be facing at the nineteenth edition of the Mexican race. The tracks also have stones and rocks aplenty to add on an extra layer of risk.
Elfyn Evans (Toyota) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) arrive at Rally Mexico 2020 as co-leaders of the driver’s standings with 42 points each, followed by Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) who is third with five points less.
Number 33, the Welshman Elfyn Evans and his Yaris WRC are confronting the appointment full of optimism and confidence after winning the previous race, the Rally Sweden. Similarly, the spirits are high for his Hyundai rival Neuville whom, despite finishing sixth at the Scandinavian appointment, had taken the highest step of the podium in Monte Carlo.
Together with those ‘two tenors’, crown defendant Ott Tänak also aspires to offer a memorable recital. Tänak is completely recovered from the chilling accident he suffered at the Alpine test, which almost left him on the dry dock for Sweden, but after which he ended up adding his first podium with the brand from Alzenau.
Dani Sordo completes Hyundai’s three-strong line-up. The Spaniard driver commences his partial program in Guadalajara with his eyes fixed on the champagne. The driver, who comes from the Spanish village of Puente San Miguel, should not be underestimated.
He was second in Mexico in 2018, an appointment which suits his driving style like a glove, and has been very comfortable during the Fafe Rally where he took part with Tänak, in preparation for the Aztec race.
The Estonian said about Rally Mexico:
“I was pleased to get my first podium with Hyundai Motorsport in Sweden, but Mexico will be very different – it’s a unique challenge. The heat and altitude make it a very specific event on the calendar.
“Physically, it can be tough. At altitude we don’t have as much oxygen, so our driving style needs to be smooth and flowing, while the engine power is reduced, so we have to be efficient“On the fan side”
“Mexico is amazing. We have a lot of people spectating and going crazy which makes it very special and emotional for us as drivers. There’s nowhere better than Mexico to come and get some sunny weather after the winter.”
Kalle Rovanperä is the third driver at Toyota GAZOO Racing WRC together with the aforementioned Evans and Ogier. The Finnish racer arrives at the test with great sensations after having taken his first podium in the top category of the speciality in Sweden.
The Japanese team wants to hold on to the leadership of the constructor’s standings which they currently hold with 73 points, ten more than Hyundai. The third team in the World Rally Championship, M-Sport Ford, will put four of its Fiestas WRC on the track in Mexico.
The team from Cumbria is headlined by the Finns Teemu Sunninen and Esapekka Lappi, who in this occasion will be accompanied by Briton Gus Greensmtih and private Lithuanian runner, Deividas Jocius.
Four days of intense battling await all of them across 24 dusty stretches and 324.85 km out of a total route of 959.25 km.
Images of Rally Mexico 2020: Toyota GAZOO Racing.