Preview: Rally Mexico – Round 3, 2018 World Rally Championship
- 5th March 2018, 12:01pm
Team by Team
CitroenEverything went well from a mechanical point in Sweden, especially with Breen’s second place and Ostberg’s performance, despite his very short pre-event experience of the C3 WRC. Post Sweden opinions: running order is “sometimes an advantage, sometimes a disadvantage”. Four days testing in Almeria region at Fondon in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, a location chosen as an available compromise between typical road conditions, altitude and ambient temperatures. Meeke has his Monte Carlo car, Loeb the car driven there by Breen. The decision to only enter two cars was taken for budget reasons. Current 2018 plans: Meeke to do all events, Breen a total of 10, with the remaining three for Loeb, team patron Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi to enter “a few rallies” in addition. Fun fact: both Meeke and Loeb won Rally Mexico the last time they took part: Meeke last year and Loeb in 2012!
HyundaiNo special problems in Sweden. Post-Sweden opinions: Ogier used the rules as they stood, M-Sport cannot be blamed. “The rules are like this and they have to be accepted as they are”. Three days testing near Girona in north eastern Spain, a region selected for surfaces and conditions representative of those in Mexico. The team will run the same three cars as used in Sweden, with Sordo driving the car of Paddon, with a new R5 car (chassis 37) for Huttunen which will be run as usual by Sarrazin Motorsport, but entered by Hyundai Motorsport. Hyundai Motorsport drivers have never won Mexico before, each of the drivers have retired once after a misdemeanour, though Neuville has had three third places and Mikkelsen one. Championship leader Neuville said: “It is a warm event where we must take extra care of the brakes. Because the engines are down on power, it demands a change of driving style!”
M-SportNo technical problems in Sweden, and there was satisfaction with their team decisions at the end of the event. Post-Sweden opinion: “Clearly drivers who did well at Monte Carlo were at a severe disadvantage with the running order”. This was the first time their 2017 specification cars had not achieved a WRC podium result. Two days testing each for Sebastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans, one for Suninen in Catalan region north of Barcelona, selected principally for representative surface, altitude simulation carried out at Ford Europe’s climatic chamber at Dunton. Same cars again for the WRC team drivers. M-Sport are also running R5 cars for privateers Bulacia (ex-Monte Carlo), Greensmith, Heller (both new) and prize driver Solans (same as Sweden). Good news for Evans, this is expected to be his last rally using an old Volvo recce car before moving to a Focus RS like his teammate Ogier. Strong rally favourite is Ogier: three wins and two seconds in the past five years!
ToyotaTGR has the most (11 previous times for Latvala) and the least experienced (Lappi, never been before, but made the recce last year) Rally Mexico drivers. Middleman Tanak has never finished on the Mexico podium in his six previous events! The only Toyota winner on this event was Ramon Ferreyros on the pre-WRC Corona Rally America in 2001. Latvala won the 2016 WRC event at VW. Because the high altitude route takes cars up to 2700 metres, nowadays the highest in the championship, work has been carried out in Japan on a climatic chamber dyno. Following overheating experiences last year, cooling improvements have been carried out in Europe. It is estimated that up to 20% of the power can be lost at altitude. Gravel tests were carried out in cool conditions in Spain. It will be Tanak’s first rally with Toyota on gravel. Three old 2017 cars are used: Latvala has his ex-Australia 2017 car, Tanak has Lappi’s car from that event, and Lappi has his 2017 Rally GB car. The cars have now been re-registered.
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