Friday | 24 Feb 2017

Mexico City: Zocalo beats to WRC rhythm

The FIA World Rally Championship roars into the heart of one of the world’s largest cities next month when Mexico City hosts thrilling high-speed action at a venue made famous in James Bond movie ‘Spectre’.

Huge crowds will pack the iconic Zócalo square to watch exciting new-era World Rally Cars fight for tenths of a second at the opening two speed tests of Rally Guanajuato Mexico, the third round of the 2017 season.

Live television will broadcast the city spectacular in the evening of Thursday 9 March (local time) to a global audience for what promises to be one of the biggest occasions in the WRC’s 45-year history.

Mexico City ranks on the fringes of the world’s top 10 biggest population cities and Zócalo is perhaps best known as the location for the amazing helicopter stunts which launched ‘Spectre’ in 2015.

The rally will build a 1.57km asphalt test in the square and surrounding streets, an area more accustomed to receiving foreign heads of state and hosting national celebrations than echoing to the sound of new-specification World Rally Cars.

It will be driven twice by all the WRC’s star drivers, including championship leader and 2016 rally winner Jari-Matti Latvala and four-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, to provide a full evening’s entertainment.

Afterwards cars and competitors will be transported 400km south-east to the rally base of León for three days of high-temperature dirt road special stages in the mountains of the Guanajuato region.

Guanajuato's famous underground stage will again feature

Mexico City’s mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera has given his full support to the event and majestic colonial buildings surrounding the square will be used to host the official pre-event press conference, a media centre and drivers’ relaxation room.

“We’re delighted to have been invited there by the authorities in Mexico City,” said rally director Patrick Suberville.

“The country is so passionate about motorsport. Presentations were held in the square when Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship came to Mexico City, but WRC is the first to have cars actually competing there. We’re very proud,” he said.

The Zócalo action will be screened live on Fox Sports at 20.00 (local time) on Thursday 9 March in Latin and south America, and by the WRC’s other broadcast partners across the globe. It can also be viewed live on

Additional live action stages will be broadcast on Saturday 11 March at 11.00 and on Sunday 12 March at 12.00 (both local times). Sunday’s programme will feature the rally-closing Power Stage, with bonus points for the fastest five drivers.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said there was a massive sense of anticipation within the championship.

“Mexico City boasts a population of more than 20 million people and since the championship’s launch in 1973, it’s hard to identify another city event quite as spectacular as we believe this will be. I’m sure the skills of our WRC drivers will be a match for James Bond at the wheel!” he said.

Zócalo is the latest example of Rally Mexico’s innovative approach. In recent years the rally has been launched with a unique underground special stage through former silver mine tunnels in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Guanajuato.

That will now be driven near the end of the first full day’s competition on Friday 10 March. The rally comprises 19 stages covering 370.46km before finishing in León on Sunday 12 March.

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