Wednesday | 04 Mar 2015

Return of the champion

WRC 2 champion Nasser Al-Attiyah begins the defence of his title at Rally Guanajuato Mexico (5 - 8 March) this weekend.

The Qatari (pictured above) edged out Jari Ketomaa to secure the 2014 title at the final round and renews rivalries with the Finn, who jointly leads the 2015 standings after winning in Sweden last month.

Al-Attiyah has French co-driver Matthieu Baumel alongside him for the first time in the WRC. The pair have already won the Dakar Rally and the opening round of the FIA Middle East Championship in Qatar this season.

While Al-Attiyah drives a Ford Fiesta RRC, Ketomaa pilots the Drive DMACK Fiesta R5 in which he dominated the category at Rally Sweden.

“I really enjoy the fast gravel roads,” said Ketomaa. “We need to have a good package with car, crew and tyres all working well together to stay ahead of the Regional Rally Cars.”

Nicolas Fuchs - starts his 2015 campaign in Mexico

Also in a Fiesta RRC is Ukraine’s Yurii Protasov, who returns to WRC 2 after driving World Rally Cars in Monte-Carlo and Sweden. He won in Mexico last year by a massive 24 minutes and led the championship for the opening five rounds before eventually finishing fourth.

Stéphane Lefebvre is tied with Ketomaa at the top of WRC 2 after winning Rallye Monte-Carlo in a DS 3 R5. However, this is his Mexican debut and his first hot weather gravel rally in Citroen’s four-wheel drive car.

“It will be a huge learning experience for me. The aim is to put in the miles and acquire experience. I have to learn the stages first and foremost, but I’ll go for it if I have the chance to pick up big points for the championship,” he said.

Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs, who was second last year before suspension problems, and 2013 championship runner-up Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari both start their campaigns in Fiestas, while Valeriy Gorban will aim to build on an impressive third in Sweden in a Mini John Cooper Works.

In the Production Car Cup within WRC 2, Simone Tempestini has the opportunity to extend his lead. Max Rendina is his only rival as Gianluca Linari is a non-starter.

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