Pontus Tidemand and Jonas Andersson extended their lead in the Škoda Fabia R5 on an eventful day at the Rally Mexico. The successful crew clocked the fastest time on four of the day’s five stages and successfully conquered the highest point in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) on the iconic El Chocolate stage.
However, the start of the rally action was delayed by almost five hours on day two in Mexico: the two stages scheduled for the morning had to be cancelled after a traffic jam had delayed the rally cars on the way back from the capital Mexico City.
“That was a challenging day for everyone. After waiting so long to get started, I put too much strain on the brakes on the opening stage. Things improved significantly after that. We are growing in confidence on the difficult routes in Mexico,” said Pontus Tidemand.
The Swede led going into day two of the rally, following two stage wins on the street course in the capital Mexico City on Thursday. However, he briefly surrendered the top spot to Frenchman Eric Camilli on the El Chocolate stage – at 54.90 kilometres one of the longest on the WRC calendar.
The competitors reached the highest point in the 2017 World Rally Championship at almost 2,750 metres above sea level, where the engines were forced to work extra hard in the thin air.
The Škoda Fabia R5 passed this particularly tough test with flying colours, and 26-year-old Tidemand immediately regained the lead in WRC2 with a dominant stage win. From the high mountains, the WRC caravan headed straight underground in Guanajuato. The route took the drivers through tunnels left from former silver mines. They were then faced with two runs in the Autódromo de León at the end of an extremely varied day of rallying. Here too, Škoda driver Tidemand was the fastest man. He eventually ended the day with a 35.4-second lead over second-placed Camilli. Mexican Benito Guerra is also on course for a podium finish in third place. Like Tidemand, the local hero is at the wheel of a Škoda Fabia R5.
“I expect a big battle for the win. We have to be quick on the rough gravel roads, but at the same time drive in a controlled manner if we are going to have a chance,” said Tidemand, looking ahead.
Over 210 kilometres of special stage are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Only then will we know who will succeed last year’s WRC2 winner Teemu Suninen. The Finn won the 2016 Rally Mexico in a Škoda Fabia R5.
2017 Rally Guanajuato Mexico – WRC2 standings after the Day 2:
1. Tidemand / Andersson (S/S) Škoda Fabia R5 1:04:58.1 hrs
2. Camilli / Veillas (F/F) Ford Fiesta R5 + 35.4 sec
3. Guerra / Rozada (MEX/E) Škoda Fabia R5 + 1:07.2 min
Number of the day: 74.58
74.58 kilometres of special stage originally planned for Friday had to be cancelled. A traffic jam resulted in the rally cars being too late leaving Mexico City to return to the service park in Léon, the first runs of the iconic El Chocolate and Las Minas stages had to be scrapped in the morning. This brought the total number of kilometres of timed sections at the Rally Mexico down to under 300.
Press release Skoda Motorsport