Rally Guanajuato Mexico (9 - 12 March) will kick-off with a spectacular speed test in the heart of Mexico City at a venue made famous by the dramatic helicopter fight in the opening scene of James Bond movie Spectre.
Mexico City is the world’s fifth largest and it’s main square, Zócalo, will be packed with more than 200,000 fans for one of the biggest occasions in WRC history.
The third round of the championship will be the first time the new-generation World Rally Cars compete on gravel. But all eyes will be focused initially on the Thursday night asphalt stage, 400km south-east of the rally base of León.
Organisers will construct a 1.71km test around the square, more accustomed to receiving foreign heads of state and hosting national celebrations than echoing to the sound of World Rally Cars.
It means Thursday morning’s shakedown will be brought forward to Wednesday afternoon. Rally cars will be transported to Mexico City by road on Thursday for the stage, which begins shortly before 19.30, after which they will make the return journey to León.
Crews and teams will fly to and from the capital city before a delayed 10.00 restart on Friday in León for three days of gravel action in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains.
The Mexico City start replaces the rally’s traditional colourful opening ceremony in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Guanajuato. However, the event will visit on Friday to tackle the unique underground speed test through former silver mine tunnels.
The rally comprises 19 stages covering 369.03km and features two passes through the marathon 54.90km El Chocolate stage on Friday.