México next for WRC aces as challenge intensifies

Back then, the event was brought to a premature halt as the world began the process of going into lockdown in response to the global health pandemic.

But after two years out, the rally re-joins the WRC schedule as round three of the 2023 season with the city of León, 400 kilometres northwest of México’s capital, once again playing host.

While it’s a popular rally among drivers due to the enthusiasm of the fans, the challenge can be immense with the prospect of rock-strewn gravel stages, ambient temperatures reaching 30 degrees centigrade and stages located 2700 metres above sea level. That not only means less oxygen but also a drop-off in engine power of approximately 25 per cent.

One of the highlights of the rally, which joined the WRC back in 2004, is the ceremonial start in Guanajuato, which is attended by thousands of fans each year and is followed by two runs through the city’s superspecial stage on a spectacular opening night.

As well as counting as a round of the WRC, Guanajuato Rally México forms the first event of the 2023 FIA NACAM Rally Championship, which gives drivers and teams from the regional series the opportunity to showcase their skills on a global stage.



Small in terms of overall distance (969.89 kilometres) but big in terms of challenge and changes to the route for 2023, which continues to be focused on the Sierra de Guanajuato and Sierra de Lobos mountains close to León.

Changes include the expanded Distrito León Mx stage, featuring sections within the service park, plus the return of the Ibarrilla stage, which comes complete with a pass through the popular Agua Zarca spectator zone for the first time since 2016.

The Las Dunas Superspecial, run once on Saturday and twice on Sunday, has been built from scratch inside a depleted open-pit sand mine. Organisers expect “great images” will come from this 3.70-kilometre test. Meanwhile, the San Diego stage on Sunday was new for 2020 but never ran after the rally was curtailed on Saturday night.

Following two runs through Street Stage GTO in Guanajuato on Thursday evening (March 16), Friday begins with the first of two visits to the 31.45 kilometres of El Chocolate. The famous Las Minas and Ortega stages also form part of the Friday schedule ahead of two day-ending superspecials.

Measuring 21.69 kilometres in length, the Derramadero stage is expected to be a popular part of Saturday’s route, along with Ibarilla and El Mosquito.

The 35.63-kilometre Otates stage is the rally’s longest and could provide a sting in the tail on the deciding leg ahead of the El Brinco Wolf Power Stage from 12h18 local time.



Stage distance: 320.23 km
Total distance: 971.32 km
Number of stages: 23



Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team: Thierry Neuville, who claimed Hyundai’s first WRC podium in México in 2014, is joined in the team’s México line-up by Esapekka Lappi and Dani Sordo. Lappi is a new Hyundai recruit for the 2023 season, while Sordo missed the previous round in Sweden in accordance with his carsharing arrangement with Craig Breen.

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team: Pierre-Louis Loubet and Ott Tänak fly the M-Sport flag in their Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrids. But while Tänak has finished second twice in México, Loubet is an event newcomer. Meanwhile, Jourdan Serdiridis is at the wheel of a third Puma but is not eligible to score Manufacturers’ championship points.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT: Eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, the last driver to win Rally México in 2020, makes his second start of 2023 and teams up with Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä in the works Toyota attack. Having stepped up in status on Rally Sweden last month by being registered to score points for the Manufacturers’ championship, Takamoto Katsuta switches back to a semi-factory role.



A high-quality entry has assembled for the third round of the FIA WRC2 Championship. They include defending champion Emil Lindholm (Toksport WRT2 Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo), WRC returnee Gus Greensmith (Fabia RS Rally2), plus event winners Adrien Fourmaux (M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta Rally2), Toksport WRT2’s Nikolay Gryazin as well as Kajetan Kajetanowicz (both Fabia Rally2 Evo), Martin Prokop (Fiesta Rally2) and Oliver Solberg (Fabia RS Rally2).

Polish privateer Daniel Chwist, who is entered in the WRC2 Challenger category in a Fabia Rally2 Evo, is the grandson of three-time European champion Sobiesław Zasada, now aged 93 but who took part on the Safari Rally in 2021.

Diego Dominguez, from Paraguay, can claim a top score in WRC3 as the only registered contender.

Other drivers from South America in action include Chile’s Jorge Martinez and Eduardo Castro from Peru.



Media accreditation

Media accreditation must be collected in person by accredited pass holders from the Accreditation Desk, Media Centre, Rally Campus, Distrito León Mx, Zona Cultural y Recreativa, León, Guanajuato 37500. The Accreditation Desk is open as follows:

Tuesday March 14: 14:00 – 20:00 hrs

Wednesday March 15: 08:00 – 20:00 hrs

Thursday March 16: 08:00 – 18:00 hrs


Media Centre

The Media Centre is located in the main building of the Rally Campus, Distrito León Mx, Zona Cultural y Recreativa, León, Guanajuato 37500 and open as follows:

Tuesday March 14: 14:00 – 20:00 hrs

Wednesday March 15: 08:00 – 22:00 hrs

Thursday March 16: 08:00 – 24:00 hrs

Friday March 17: 07:00 – 23:00 hrs

Saturday March 18: 07:00 – 23:00 hrs

Sunday March 19: 07:00 – 21:00 hrs


Media activities and opportunities

Wednesday March 15

17:00 – 17:30 hrs         Mandatory Tabard Media Safety Briefing (Media Centre)

17:30 – 19:00 hrs         Team media functions (team service areas)

17:30 hrs                          M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

18:00 hrs                          Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

18:30 hrs                          Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

20:00 – 23:00 hrs         Rally Mexico Léon welcome cocktail (Rally Campus Main Bar)


Thursday March 16

10:01 – 12:00 hrs         Shakedown for P1 and invited drivers (Llano Grande, 5.52 km)

12:20 – 14:20 hrs         Shakedown for P1, P2 and P3 drivers (Llano Grande, 5.52 km)

14:15                                Health Rally Kids Meet and Greet photoshoot (Rally Campus)

14:30 hrs                        Meet the Crews with top 3 drivers from Shakedown (WRC Stage, SP)

14:30 – 16:00 hrs         Shakedown for Non-priority drivers (Llano Grande, 5.52 km)

15:00 hrs                        FIA Pre-event Press Conference (Media Centre)

17:45 hrs                        Start of Section 1 (Rally Campus)

19:55 hrs                        Ceremonial Start (Guanajuato)


Friday March 17

07:30 hrs                        Start of Section 2 (Rally Campus)

19:00 hrs (approx.)     Meet the Crews with top 3 team principals and top 3 drivers (WRC Stage, SP)


Saturday March 18

07:05 hrs                        Start of Section 4 (Rally Campus)

19:15 hrs (approx.)     Meet the Crews with top 3 team principals and top 3 drivers (WRC Stage, SP)


Sunday March 19

07:00 hrs                        Start of Section 6 (Rally Campus)

14:30 hrs                        Prize-giving ceremony (Foro del Lago)

15:30 hrs                        FIA Post-event Press Conference (Media Centre)


Media zones

Media Zones attended by all drivers and selected team representatives will operate in the Media Zone area located on the entry to the Service Park as follows:

TC5A, TC10 (before the SSS), TC14A, TC19A and TC23A

Media are kindly asked to refer to section 12.20 of Bulletin No. 1 for more information.


FIA Press Conference attendance and schedule

Pre-event (Media Centre), Thursday March 16


15:00hrs – FIA WRC Championship

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team – Ott Tänak (EST), Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid

Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team – Dani Sordo (ESP), Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Sébastien Ogier (FRA), Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid


15:10hrs – FIA WRC support championships

WRC2 – Gus Greensmith (GBR), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2

WRC2 – M-Sport Ford World Rally Team – Adrien Fourmaux (FRA), Ford Fiesta Rally2

WRC2 C – Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL), Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

WRC2 C – Jorge Martinez (CHL), Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

WRC3 – Diego Dominguez (PRY), Ford Fiesta Rally3


Post-event (Media Centre), 15:30hrs, Sunday March 19

Top 3 in overall classification

Representative of winning manufacturer

Winning WRC2 drivers (WRC2, WRC2 Challenger)

Winning WRC3 driver



Toyota Gazoo Racing WRTKalle Rovanperä (FIN)/Jonne Halttunen (FIN) – #69
 Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) – #33
 Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Vincent Landais (FRA) – #17 
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRTThierry Neuville (BEL)/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) – #11
 Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) – #4
 Dani Sordo (ESP)/Cándido Carrera (ESP) – #6
M-Sport Ford WRTOtt Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) – #8
 Pierre-Louis Loubet (FRA)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) – #7



The provisional classifications following round 2 of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship are available here: https://www.fia.com/events/world-rally-championship/season-2023/standings



1. S Ogier (FRA)/J Ingrassia (FRA)Toyota GR Yaris WRC2h47m47.6s
2. O Tänak (EST)/M Järveoja (EST)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC+27.8s
3.T Suninen (FIN)/J Lehtinen (FIN)Ford Fiesta WRC+37.9s



2020Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA)Toyota Yaris WRC
2019Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA)Citroën C3 WRC
2018Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA)Ford Fiesta WRC
2017Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën C3 WRC
2016Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN)Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Fuente: www.fia.com

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