FOR ROUND THREE, THE WRC TRAVELS TO RALLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO (MARCH 7 – 10) WHERE HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH-ALTITUDE STAGES SERVE UP A VERY DIFFERENT SET OF CHALLENGES TO THOSE EXPERIENCED AT THE OPENING TWO ROUNDS IN EUROPE.
This year’s 16th anniversary route features only minor changes compared to 2018, and the main service base remains in the heart of León, a bustling city in central Mexico.
The rally kicks off with a ceremonial start in the historic city of Guanajuato on Thursday evening, before crews launch their cars into the stunning opening GTO Street Stage (1.14km) that winds through the city’s narrow streets and dives underground into former silver mining tunnels.
The rally proper starts on Friday when crews set off for the high-altitude dirt roads east of León.
Friday features 114.19km of competition split over eight stages. Much of the distance comes from a loop of two tests driven twice: the 31.57km El Chocolate and Ortega (17.28km).
The day also features a single pass through the 10.72km Las Minas, a 1.1km street stage in León and two runs around the city’s racing circuit (2.33km).
Saturday is the longest day and features 138.37km of competition across nine stages.
The leg starts with a loop of three stages; Guanajuatito (25.90km), Otates (the rally’s longest stage at 32.27 kilometres) and the 8.13km El Brinco.
All are repeated after a mid-point service and before two more blasts around the race circuit and a final pass though the León Street stage.
Sunday’s final leg is made up of three stages totalling 60.17km. It begins with the 24.38km Alfaro speed test before a fresh challenge, Mesa Cuata (25.07km), that features the opening half of El Chocolate, before turning south towards Guanajuato.
A second pass through Friday’s 10.72km Las Minas ends the rally as the bonus-point scoring Live TV Wolf Power Stage.
Thursday evening in Guanajuato is unmissable. The colour, sights and sounds of the opening ceremony outside the Alhóndiga de Granaditas museum is an experience to savour and the stage through former mining tunnels is unique.
The Autódromo de León test at the city’s motor racing circuit is one of the year’s best super specials. It mixes asphalt and gravel, and features a big jump and water splash. Held on Friday and Saturday evenings.
El Brinco’s new jump, which is tackled twice on Saturday. It’s going to be a cracker!
Sunshine! After the winter weather in Monte-Carlo and Sweden, the WRC contingent is more than happy to take in a few rays.