Thursday | 27 Feb 2014

Mexico countdown: magic moments

Rally Mexico may have only been on the WRC calendar for the last decade but it’s served up lots of excitement and drama during that time. Here are three reasons why Rally Mexico has been so memorable over the years:

2004: Solberg left feeling flat

As the reigning World Rally champion, Petter Solberg was riding on the crest of a wave when he took the start of the inaugural Rally Mexico in 2004. He’d never seen the gravel stages before but that didn’t stop him storming into the lead.

Everything was going great until the Norwegian tried to drive through the ‘service in’ time control on day one. Inexplicably, his Subaru Impreza WRC lost all battery power and he and co-driver Phil Mills had to push their car up the ramp to the control.

It was back-breaking stuff and it wasn’t long before onlookers took pity on the rally-leading crew and helped them in their task. Unfortunately, Solberg and Mills were deemed to have received outside assistance and were handed a five-minute penalty.

Their chances of victory were dashed. But the drama made headlines across the world.

2013: Ogier grapples with a gate

Sebastien Ogier is liked in most parts of the world. But events on last year’s Rally Mexico would have left the Frenchman scrapping any plans he may have had to open a Mexican branch of the ‘Sebastien Ogier supporters club’.

Leading comfortably, Ogier headed into the Otates stage looking to add to his advantage. But he was left stunned when he discovered locals had closed a gate across the stage especially for his arrival.

It was a deliberate attempt to sabotage Ogier’s rally and the organisers were having none of it. They credited Ogier with the time lost and he continued his romp to victory.

2004: A carnival for the stars and cars

When the WRC arrived in the host city of Leon for the first time in 2004, teams and drivers were greeted with an explosion of music and colour from the passionate locals.

The streets were crammed with people clambering to get a glimpse of their heroes. The WRC had never seen anything like it.

The enthusiasm hasn’t waned and organisers expect close to 400,000 people will watch this year’s rally. Sebastien Ogier said: “The start in Guanajuato is a fantastic experience. Down narrow lanes, through tunnels, and past thousands of fans cheering you on frenetically – that is pure goose bumps!”