After a snowy debut, the FIA World Rally Championship begins a series of five gravel rallies in Mexico. As always, the Citroen Total World Rally Team will start the event with a single ambition – victory.

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena who finished second in Sweden are aiming for a fourth win on the trot in Latin America. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti also want to shine in front of a crowd that will be rooting for them!

The World Rally Championship, more than any other, guarantees a complete change of scenery in every country it visits. After the cold, the snow and the pine forests of Rally Sweden the entrants will find themselves confronted with the heat, the dust and the sombreros of Rally Mexico. The only event on the American continent, which is back on the calendar, has again gone out of its way to put on a really impressive show.

“It’s a very pleasant rendezvous. You can really feel that the organisers work flat out to make this rally a big event and the spectators always give us a warm welcome. The start in the streets in the historic centre of Guanajuato is one of the highlights of the season,” said Sordo.

After a year’s break, Loeb is also delighted to be back racing in this rally: “I’ve competed in all the events since the rally became part of the WRC in 2004. The first couple of years didn’t attract a huge crowd. Then people started to get interested in our sport and it’s now one of the most popular rounds of the season.”

Loeb and Elena have not lost in Mexico since 2006, and they are tackling the rally determined to add another win to their tally. “We can’t really say that the championship’s got off to a bad start with our second place in Sweden but I’m not going to let Mikko Hirvonen open up a gap in the overall classification. A win would put us on level pegging”, said the six-time world champion.

“The route’s an interesting one from a driver’s point of view. The stages aren’t too hard on the car and they’re a kind of digest of all the challenges in a rally with very quick sections, twisty ones and fliers! Our C4 WRC will be very much at home on this type of terrain, which we know very well. But I’m not going to make any predictions as we haven’t raced in such conditions for six months.

"Mikko Hirvonen has made a lot of progress recently and he’s going to start the rally full of confidence and motivation. Last year, he lost the title by a point and I know he won’t give an inch this season. I think Dani will put on a good performance again. Although he’s a little less experienced than Mikko he’s improving at exactly the same rate. He’s got every reason to show what he can do and to win.”

Sordo is very motivated for the first gravel rally of the season: “I hope I’ll make the same progress as in Sweden. I’ll have the advantage of starting fourth on the first day, so the line’s going to be well swept by the first three. I hold all the aces and I won’t forget the job I’ve been given: namely, to score the maximum number of points for the Manufacturers’ World Championship title. Our rivals got off to a better start in Sweden, but we’re determined to catch them - now.”

Three questions to… Dani Sordo

First of all, Rally Sweden. Were you happy or disappointed with your fourth place in the opening round of the season?

“It’s obvious that I’d have preferred to finish on the podium, but fourth place is a fairly normal one for me in a winter rally. What I do remember is that I had a very good first day. I’d prepared really well for this event and I was able to match Seb’s and Mikko’s pace right away on these very fast stages. Quite honestly, finishing the first day around ten seconds behind the leader was more than I’d expected. The next day I lost contact with the two leaders after a spin. And then we screwed up and lost third place.”

You seemed very angry on Saturday evening!

“Yes I was. It’s very annoying to be involved in a battle where every second counts and then to lose a minute pulling off a radiator shield that should have been removed before the start of the stage. It’s a mistake that’s all the more stupid as everything is done on board the car to make sure we don’t forget it. In fact, everybody was furious that evening! But we’re not going to go on about it for the rest of our lives; you’ve got to put it behind you and progress, Marc and I have forgotten this incident and we’re now fully concentrated on Rally Mexico.”

Do you think you’ll be as quick on Mexican gravel as on Swedish ice?

“I’ve always felt at home in Mexico. In 2008, my chances were dashed in the first stage when a suspension arm broke on a stone. After that, I set good times. This year I really believe I can make the same step forward on gravel as I did on ice in Sweden. I like this event very much - and not just because I speak the same language as the locals! The people are very enthusiastic and they make a huge effort to organise a great rally in Léon. I hope to be on the podium at the end!”
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