Rally Mexico: DAY1TOYOTA drivers begin their Mexican adventure
A spectacular street stage in the city of Guanajuato this evening marked the beginning of Rally Mexico, round three of the FIA World Rally Championship. Ott Tänak was the fastest Toyota Yaris WRC driver in second place, with his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi also in the top five.
Earlier in the day, the pre-event shakedown stage took place on gravel roads close to the host city León, allowing the drivers to fine-tune their cars in readiness for the rocky, mountainous tests that will follow over the next three days. The Guanajuato stage offered a very different challenge, held partly underground through old mining tunnels. Tänak was second quickest over the 2.53 kilometre stage, with Latvala in fourth and Lappi fifth. All three will start tomorrow’s stages within three seconds of the lead.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“It is always great to start Rally Mexico with so many people in Guanajuato. I am looking forward to this event and have a good feeling. In shakedown we were improving the car and improving my feeling step-by-step, and afterwards, I knew exactly what setup I will use in the morning and in the afternoon. My mind is clear and I don’t need to worry about the car. Already this car feels on another level compared to one year ago, both with how the engine is working at this altitude as well as with the suspension. It’s quite a hard start tomorrow morning, particularly with El Chocolate, but I’m feeling confident.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It was fantastic to start in Guanajuato. I love these people. It’s so special to be a part of. It was a very tricky stage through the tunnels, but very enjoyable too. Tomorrow there are some proper Rally Mexico stages but everything feels good. The shakedown was fairly representative of the rally so it provided some good feedback about the setup. We were able to try many different things and everything looked to be working well. Now I’m looking forward to the rest of the rally: it should be a good one.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“The start tonight was like something I have never seen before. The amount of spectators was amazing. In shakedown, the first two runs went fine but, unfortunately, we had to stop on the third run because I hit a concrete edge, which had become more exposed after the first runs, and broke the suspension. It’s a shame we couldn’t do more, but thank you to the team for fixing it before the first stage. My main target here is to understand how to drive the car with less power available at high altitude. In shakedown I was quite shocked by how different it feels to normal, and I still need to get used to it.”
End of day one(Thursday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2m06.7s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.9s
3 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2.0s
4 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.5s
5 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.9s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3.2s
7 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +3.5s
8 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4.5s
9 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4.6s
10 Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroen C3 WRC) +4.7s
(Results as of 21:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The real test of Rally Mexico begins tomorrow, with a trio of familiar mountain stages (Duarte-Derramadero, El Chocolate and Ortega) all run twice. At 31.44 kilometres, El Chocolate is the longest stage of the rally and feature the season’s high point at more than 2700 metres. The morning loop ends with a street stage in Leon and the day closes with two blasts around a superspecial stage at the local racing circuit.
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Kaj Lindström (Sporting Director)
“It is pleasing to see that all three drivers got through tonight’s stage without any problems and with good times. In shakedown the main objective was to confirm the homework that we have done in the past year, and checking the data, everything looks good. In some ways shakedown was more important than usual because it was not possible to test in exactly these conditions. I think that the drivers are all quite pleased with the feeling.”