22 Feb 08
On this fifth occasion when the Mexico rally has been run as a WRC event, it is only the second time the J-WRC competitors have been to Mexico. The previous occasion the Juniors were here, in 2005, these cars had a most extraordinary rally. Out of a total of five registered competitors electing to enter that event, only one (Guy Wilks' Suzuki) was able to complete the full route, and then only after being given special permission to change the engine en route!
This year's Mexico Rally route is shorter than ever. At 830.83km total distance it is the shortest rally ever run in the 35 year history of the WRC. There is only one small change in the special stages, the last part of stages 3/6 uses a different road to the finish. Once again it is the highest rally in the championship, the stages averaging 2000 metres above sea level.
This is the first appearance of the J-WRC this year and the "W" factor is back after a one year gap. With the inclusion of both Mexico and Jordan in the calendar for the Junior championship, the FIA has agreed that the series can again truly be categorised as a world activity. Hence the series' title reverts to the Junior WORLD Rally Championship.
The latest tally of registered entries this year in the J-WRC is seventeen. Entries for the series remain open until five weeks before the Jordan Rally, which means 20th March, by which time several extra entries are expected, especially from "Rookie" drivers. Since the end of the 2007 season, the top two drivers in the series, champion PG Andersson and runner-up Urmo Aava have moved on and now have World Rally Car programmes. A great chance for younger drivers to move up the ladder!
Nine JWRC competitors are taking part in Mexico, eight in Super 1600 cars, (five Citroen C2s, two Suzuki Swifts and one Renault Clio) and one in a Clio R3. None of the Citroens on this event will be the latest R2 Max version. Citroen Sport's customer manager Jean-Francois Lienere said: "The debut of the Max model in JWRC will be in Sardinia. We are however very happy with the way the development of the Max is proceeding. Already the speed of the Max in testing is similar to the S1600 on gravel but not yet on asphalt". Citroen C2 drivers here will be Martin Prokop, Aaron Burkart, newcomers Francesco Fanari and Sebastien Ogier and the 2007 Rookie champion Shaun Gallagher who has now progressed up from driving an R2 model.