Mexico City’s famous Zócalo square will now host two speed tests to kick off next month’s Rally Guanajuato Mexico (9 - 12 March).
Organisers of the WRC’s opening gravel round of 2017 have added a second pass of the 1.57km special stage in the city centre square, a location perhaps best-known for the dramatic helicopter fight in the opening scene of James Bond movie Spectre.
They expect a massive crowd to pack the square in the world’s fifth-largest city for one of the biggest occasions in WRC history, and teams have supported the plan to double the fun at the Thursday evening asphalt stage.
“We wanted to make a bigger and better show in Mexico City for the fans and for live television,” explained rally director Patrick Suberville.
“It seemed a shame to make the huge effort to go all the way to Mexico City from León to have the cars run just once. The city gave us a timeframe for the square, we looked at it and thought let’s have two stages instead of one. It’s better entertainment for everyone.”
Suberville said the response to the plan to have World Rally Cars competing in the square, more accustomed to receiving foreign heads of state and hosting national celebrations, had been incredible.
“We’re delighted to have been invited there by the authorities in Mexico City. The country is so passionate about motorsport. Formula 1 has been in the square and WEC has been in the square, but WRC is the first to have cars actually competing there. We’re very proud,” he said.
Non-priority drivers will tackle both stages before the WRC 2 entries complete the tests. Leading Mexican drivers Benito Guerra and Ricardo Triviño will drive them next before the headline World Rally Car drivers.
Cars will be transported by road to and from Mexico City on Thursday for the stages. Crews and teams will fly to and from the capital.