Round three of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Mexico, takes place this weekend with road position and high-altitude levels the main factors for a strong result on the first fully gravel event of the year.
Although tied on points, Elfyn Evans leads the Drivers Standings ahead of Thierry Neuville going into round three thanks to a better finishing position on the opening round of the year in Monte Carlo, although a second successive win this weekend seems unlikely.
The Welshman must run first on the road throughout all of Friday’s ten stages including twice through the mammoth 31km El Chocolate test and will be aiming to drop as little time as possible after being tasked with road sweeping duties.
A total of 24 stages take place this weekend, beginning with two opening super specials on Thursday evening around the streets of Guanajuato, before stages including the afore mentioned El Chocolate, Ortega and Las Minas take place the following morning with altitude playing a key factor.
Saturday sees a further three tests, Guanajuatito, Alfaro – both of which with revised routes for 2020 – and Derramadero repeated twice, with the day completed again by two runs around the local race circuit and a León city centre super special.
Another long stage, this time the 33.6km Otates opens Sunday with San Diego taking place before the final El Brinco Power Stage completes the rally.
With Evans, Neuville and possibly Sebastien Ogier all seemingly out of contention for the overall win, unless a dramatic comeback on Saturday and Sunday takes place, who could be the men to watch in Mexico?
Well the returning Dani Sordo could be someone set for a strong result. The experienced Spaniard driver will be the last of the WRC runners on the road, theoretically having the clearest road ahead of him and has finished second on the event before in 2018.
Hyundai teammate and second here last season Ott Tänak could also be in for another strong result following his podium last time out in Sweden.
Seemingly unalarmed by his huge crash on the opening round of the year, the Estonian came back in fine fashion and could be set to challenge for his first win with the Korean manufacturer.
Kalle Rovanperä has already impressed as he begins his transition to the top level of WRC2 and the young Finn sits fourth in the title standings. After his third in Sweden, could he be set for another top-three result in Mexico, despite not taking part here last season?
M-Sport Ford return to three cars in Mexico, with Esapekka Lappi, who’s had a somewhat steady but solid start to the year, looking to challenge at the top of the leaderboard. The Finn has two top-five results to his name so far this year, so a podium surely isn’t too far away.
Teemu Suninen meanwhile appears to need a strong result here to kick-start his season. He suffered a huge accident here twelve months ago early on, so needs to show he can drive strongly here while Gus Greensmith returns for the first time since going off the road in Monte Carlo and is desperate to show what he can do in his limited rounds campaign.
WRC2/WRC3 – Opportunity to Score Big as Leaders Miss Out Mexico
WRC2 heading to Mexico is led by Mads Østberg after his two victories so far this season but the Norwegian doesn’t contest the event this weekend, meaning Nikolay Gryazin and Ole Christian Veiby both have the chance to capitalise and bank vital championship points.
They’re joined on the entry by Pontus Tidemand, who returns to the WRC for the first time since Wales Rally GB last year in a Skoda Fabia R5.
None of the top five in WRC3 travel to Mexico either, enabling drivers such as Oliver Solberg, local hero Benito Guerra Jr and Kajetan Kajetanowicz all the platform for a class win and more importantly championship points.
A total of 11 drivers are entered, which also includes Marco Bulacia Wilkinson, Alberto Heller and Irish driver Barry McKenna who makes his WRC debut after competing in America throughout 2019.
Round three of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Mexico, gets underway later today.