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The third round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) sees the teams heading to Mexico and the first gravel rally of the season. The Rally Guanajuato México first joined the WRC calendar back in 2004, which means this is its fifteenth anniversary at this level. That makes it the longest-running world championship motorsport event in Mexico. Hopefully, this year’s event will be another truly special rally and live up to the occasion.

The Rally Guanajuato México takes place in and around Mexican fifth largest city, León, which is situated 400 kilometres north-west of the capital, Mexico City. It will see drivers taking on 22 special stages and more than 340 kilometres of competitive driving, including some of the season’s most spectacular stages, such as those taking place in the scenic Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains.

22 special stages
345 competitive kilometres
2 ŠKODA FABIA R5s

Unique atmosphere: The Rally Mexico has a truly unique atmosphere and this will begin on the opening Thursday night with a colourful start ceremony and opening special stage which this year has returned from Mexico City to take place once again in picturesque Guanajuato. The city is awash with lights, colour and sound, while the opening stage, which runs through the city’s former mining tunnels, is truly unique and magical.

Rally Guanajuato Mexico 2017

‘Breathtaking’ experience: Cars and drivers will be forced to climb up into high altitude and thin air at times on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The high point will be on the iconic ‘El Chocolate’ stage, which is not only the longest test of the rally (at 31.44 km) but also takes cars up to an altitude of 2,737 metres. At this height, both cars and drivers are struggling to get the air they need, but with climbs, descents, hairpins, fast sections, narrow roads and plenty of enticing corners, this stage has everything and will keep teams going on adrenalin alone!

Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Guanajuato Mexico 2017

Not just high altitude but the heat: After shivering through the snow of Monte Carlo and Sweden, the WRC teams might be looking forward to some sunshine. But in Mexico, it really does take things from one extreme to another. Temperatures of almost 30°C put as much stress on cars and drivers as the altitude does. At some points, engines can be expected to lose up to 20 per cent of their normal power. This means mistakes are punished harder as it takes longer to get back to full speed and Mexican infamous concrete culverts are always lurking and ready to do big damage to any car that misses them. Cars will be fitted with normal gravel suspension and while most teams start of soft tyres, hard compound will likely come out later in the day as temperatures continue to rise and roads become more rutted and hard-packed.

Another iconic jump: All the talk of the Rally Sweden was of the famous Colin’s Crest jump on the Vargåsen stage. But Mexico has its own famous jump which is also a big favourite with fans. It is called El Brinco and will be driven twice on the Saturday on the stage of the same name. The jump itself is located just before the end of the stage and will see big crowds gathering on the slopes above the jump, which makes for an amazing atmosphere.

Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Guanajuato Mexico 2017

FABIA R5 has excelled in Mexican mountains: The record of the ŠKODA FABIA R5 at the Rally Guanajuato México has been hugely impressive so far. Last year, the car won 12 of the 18 special stages driven as Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson took the WRC2 win for the ŠKODA Motorsport team, while Motorsport Italia’s Benito Guerra / Borja Rozada finished third. But the previous year, it performed even better, claiming victory in every stage as Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (TGS Worldwide) won in the WRC2 standings by a massive margin of more than 20-minutes.