Monday | 03 Mar 2014

Mexico countdown: the stages

It’s the stated aim of Rally Mexico organisers to include the longest special stages possible and to produce the most compact rally in the WRC.

This year they have hit the jackpot on both counts with four tests exceeding 43km, and 399.93km of action in the 1038km route - meaning that a remarkable 39 per cent of the rally is competitive.

In contrast, Thursday night’s opening stage is a mere 1001 metres long, but it would be hard to find a curtain-raiser packed with more atmosphere. The Guanajuato street stage starts immediately after the colourful start ceremony in front of tens of thousands of fans packed into the UNESCO World Heritage Site town.

It runs underground through former silver mine tunnels before ending after a spectacular full throttle sideways slide around a roundabout.

Friday’s action is close to Guanajuato and includes two passes over the sweetly-named 44.03km El Chocolate, which climbs to the high point of the rally at 2781 metres – the equivalent of 1519 Sebastien Ogiers piled on top of each other!

It features two short tests through Bicentennial Park, near Silao, and ends with two passes over a super special stage at Leon’s race circuit.

Saturday is the ‘biggie’ with more than 170km of stages. It is based further west and includes a 53.69km run through Otates in the morning.

Flying high: Jari-Matti Latvala in 2013

That is shortened into the 43.06km Otatitos in the afternoon, with the remainder of the distance forming El Brinco, complete with the famous downhill jump of the same name, which will be broadcast live on television. The leg ends with two more tests at the circuit.

Sunday is all about the monster 55.92km Guanajuatito test. It is the longest in the rally’s history and forms the bulk of the 80.22km of competition over a mix of roads, many used the previous day.

Guanajuatito is preceded by a double run at the race circuit and followed by a second pass through El Brinco, which as the Power Stage offers bonus points to the fastest three drivers.

Leon’s street stage will not feature, but the area will house the service park which moves outdoors for the first time from the Poliforum exhibition halls.