Rally Mexico is underway for Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team following shakedown and the traditional start in Guanajuato. In the opening stage through the city’s spectacular streets and tunnels, Toyota Yaris WRC driver Kris Meeke set the third fastest time before the stage was halted for safety reasons.
Held over gravel roads close to the service park in León, the shakedown provided the teams and drivers with a valuable opportunity to run in conditions similar to those they will face during the rally. Toyota driver Kris Meeke posted the fastest time on the shakedown, with Latvala sixth. Ott Tänak’s car stopped at the end of his first run due to a sensor issue, but the team was able to fix it and get him out for another run later on.
The Guanajuato stage took place over a 1.14-kilometre route through the historic city – a World Heritage Site – and its former mining tunnels. Meeke and Latvala both got to take on the stage before damage to a jump ramp caused the stage to be cancelled. Having not had the opportunity to drive the stage, Tänak was one of three drivers to be given a notional time identical to Meeke’s, 0.6 seconds away from the fastest time. Latvala was classified 10th, just 1.7s off the best time.
Quotes: Tom Fowler (Technical Director) : « In shakedown, Ott lost one signal to one of the sensors, which resulted in the engine stopping. We brought the car back to service, checked everything carefully, fixed the sensor issue and Ott was able to go back to shakedown to make sure everything was OK. It was disappointing to miss out on some possible learning for the rally, especially as the conditions here are different to usual with the altitude, but the most important thing is that the car was ready for the first stage tonight. For the other two cars, everything went really well with no reliability issues, and both Jari-Matti and Kris were really happy with the setup. Ott was really happy too in the running that he was able to do, so everything is looking good for tomorrow. »
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8) : « On our first run in shakedown we had a good feeling, but then the car stopped near to the end of the stage. We lost some time but it wasn’t a major issue, so we were able to get out again later on and confirm everything is working. Now I’m looking forward and we want to have another good weekend. I will just need to get back into the rhythm for driving on gravel, but the car feels good and the confidence is there. »
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10) : « The start in Guanajuato is the best start to a rally in the whole championship. Driving through the tunnels is a very exciting way to start, but I lost some time because the finish was not where it was marked in the recce and I braked too early. The shakedown was a good chance to get used to driving on gravel again, as I’ve only done one test day on this surface since Rally Australia. I started to get the confidence back and a good feeling with the car, so I’m generally happy and ready to start the real Rally Mexico tomorrow. »
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5) : « The first stage in Guanajuato is always incredible. It’s only one kilometre long but it’s a really enjoyable experience. It’s always a wake-up call when you come here and drive the car for the first time in shakedown and realise you’re at high altitude: everything feels sluggish compared to a normal rally at sea level, but that’s Rally Mexico. It felt OK though. The first run was slippery but once a line developed, the rhythm felt quite nice and the time was good. I’ve enjoyed this rally in the last couple of years, now I’m coming here with a different car. I’m confident that the Yaris WRC will cope well and I’m looking forward to it. »
End of day one (Thursday): 1 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) 1m00.6s 2 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.1s 3 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +0.6s 4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.6s 5 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +0.6s 6 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.6s 7 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +0.6s 8 Teemu Suninen/Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.5s 9 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.5s 10 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.7s (Results as of 22:30 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
What’s next? The first full day of Rally Mexico begins with the El Chocolate and Ortega tests before a street stage next to the service park in León. The afternoon features repeats of El Chocolate and Ortega, and a first run over Las Minas (which will be revisited for the Power Stage on Sunday) before two passes of a super special stage at the León racing circuit.
Key stage: El Chocolate, SS2 & SS5, 31.57 kilometres Miikka Anttila (Co-driver car 10): « I like this stage. It’s very slow and technical, but in a way that makes it a proper challenge and a good way to really start the rally. The stage was very well prepared before the recce but I’m sure there will be a cleaning affect during the rally. We will also do most of the stage as part of Mesa Cueta on Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how it will be on that last run. »
Press release Toyota Gazoo Racing]]>