A flurry of flashbulbs and screaming fans, cars hurtling past sideways, pushed to the very limit – Volkswagen started the Rally Mexico to great acclaim. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) finished first, third and fifth on the “Guanajuato Street Stage”. The opening stage of the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is traditionally a rather special affair. The 1.01-kilometre route, lined by over 50,000 fans, ran through the centre of Guanajuato, thus requiring the drivers to negotiate the winding alleyways and mine shafts of the silver-mining city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The many fans who flocked to the first of 22 special stages packed onto ledges and balconies, and hung from lampposts to follow the action.
Luxury warm-up: Volkswagen drivers go Mexican
A sightseeing tour with fans through Mexico City for Sébastien Ogier, an introduction to wrestling for Jari-Matti Latvala and a Taco cooking course for both – the Volkswagen drivers prepared for the Rally Mexico in style. The rally week kicked off with a live studio appearance on Fox Sports by defending World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier, which was broadcast throughout the whole of Latin America. On set with him: the Polo R WRC. Invited by Red Bull Mexico and the Mexican Volkswagen importer, Jari-Matti Latvala was then given a very special taste of Mexican life: legendary wrestler “Lucha Libre” gave the Volkswagen driver an introduction into the art of her sport. But the fun did not stop there, as there were more highlights scheduled: together with team-mate Sébastien Ogier, the current championship leader, Jari-Matti Latvala, was taught how to prepare tacos properly – at the top address in Mexico City, the “Aurora”, and under the guidance of Raffael Ortiz, extreme sportsman and world record holder with a kayak. A sightseeing tour through Mexico City, past the National Palace, archaeological excavations and cathedrals, rounded off the “luxury warm-up” for Sébastien Ogier and the fans who accompanied him.
Intense warm-up programme: Volkswagen drivers ready for Herculean task
Volkswagen prepared intensely and successfully for the Herculean task facing them with the shakedown ahead of the Rally Mexico. The new regulations meant that the three duos in the Polo R WRCs, s first, second and fourth in the World Championship, are first onto the route around Léon on the opening day, thus taking on the role of street sweepers. The Volkswagen drivers used the shakedown on Thursday morning to familiarise themselves with the conditions in Mexico – and proved to be in top form, finishing first, third and fourth.