Leon, the town where the Rally Mexico is based, produces 60% of Mexico's shoes. An interesting fact in itself, but few people realise just how significant shoes have turned out to be in Mexican culture.

The Spanish word for 'shoe' is 'zapato': something that you will see above the door of every other shop in Leon. And it is surely no co-incidence that another one of Mexico's most notable exports is the Zapata moustache, favoured initially by revolutionaries and The Village People but now enjoying a small but significant comeback amongst cutting-edge fashionistas.

Facial hair has not yet been adopted by the majority of World Rally Championship crews, probably because it is intrinsically un-aerodynamic. Although Finland is one of the last bastions of the moustache - four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen had one as his trade-mark - Kimi Raikkonen has no plans to grow one in the near future.

Instead, he is concentrating his efforts on Rally Mexico: the second event of his World Rally Championship season with Red Bull. Thanks its dusty gravel stages, spicy enchiladas, and non-stop Mariachi bands, Mexico could not present a bigger contrast to the opening round in Sweden. But had it not been for a costly excursion into a snowbank on the opening day there, Kimi would have finished comfortably inside the top eight.

"Gravel is the surface that everybody associates with rallying, and of course it is a complete contrast to anything that I experienced in Formula 1," said the Red Bull driver. "If you are sliding a Formula 1 car, something is going wrong, but in rallying this is something that you do every day. We learned a lot in Sweden and this will certainly help us in Mexico, but effectively we are starting all over again from the beginning now. My approach is going to be exactly the same though: we want to build up our speed at a comfortable pace and above all get to the finish. We managed to get quicker and quicker the last time we were out and this will be the aim for us again in Mexico."

As is the case on all the rallies apart from Finland this year, Mexico will be a completely new experience for Kimi. However, co-driver Kaj Lindstrom has competed on the Rally Mexico twice already and he hopes to use this experience to help Kimi to make progress.

"Actually, I retired from the rally on both of those previous occasions so I've got a point to prove as well!" he said. "But I have a good idea of what we can expect from the Mexican stages. I was really impressed by how much Kimi managed to learn in Sweden, and if we can have the same sort of pace on gravel then I will be very happy. I know how much Kimi is looking forward to this rally and I'm sure he's going to enjoy every kilometre of it: particularly as the road sections are very short so the action is more or less non-stop!" 

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