Sweden’s Motorsport Athlete of the Year in 2016 opened a 12.7-second lead over second-placed Mexican Benito Guerra, also at the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA R5.
Rally fans flocked to Zócalo square, which will be familiar to many from a James Bond film as it provided the backdrop to the opening helicopter scene in “Spectre”. The opening leg of the Rally Mexico in one of the biggest cities in the world – undoubtedly one of the highlights of the World Rally Championship – was no less spectacular, with rain causing wet roads and tricky conditions.
Before demonstrating their extraordinary driving skills, the drivers had thrilled their many fans with an autograph session in the capital city. Once the opening stages were complete, they then set off on the 400-kilometre drive to Leon, where the service park is traditionally located. Some true highlights of the WRC calendar await Tidemand and Co. on Friday.
On the one hand, they must tackle the famous “El Chocolate” special stage – at 54.90 kilometres one of the longest in the world championship season - twice. They will also head underground: the route through the city of Guanajuato, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, takes the drivers through old mining tunnels. The engines will also be put to the test at the Rally Mexico: the route reaches the highest point in this year’s World Rally Championship at 2737 metres above sea level, where the thin air can result in the power units losing up to 20 per cent of their power.
Pontus Tidemand had made the perfect start to the WRC 2 title race with victory at his home rally in Sweden in February. He tops the overall standings, level on points with Andreas Mikkelsen, who won the opening Rally Monte Carlo in a ŠKODA FABIA R5. Starting last season, the high-tech, four-wheel drive powerhouse from the Czech Republic has won 12 of the last 13 races in WRC 2.
|2017 Rally Guanajuato Mexico – WRC2 standings after the Day 1:|
|1.||Tidemand / Andersson (S/S)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||3:43.9 min|
|2.||Guerra / Rozada (MEX/E)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 12.7 sec|
|3.||Camilli / Veillas (F/F)||Ford Fiesta R5||+ 13.6 sec|
Number of the day: 3
The ŠKODA FABIA R5 was once again the best car in its class on the opening leg of the Rally Mexico. Three of the top four drivers are at the wheel of the high-tech, four-wheel drive powerhouse from the Czech Republic: leader Pontus Tidemand, Mexican Benito Guerra in second place and Poland’s Hubert Ptaszek in fourth.