Thursday | 16 Mar 2017

Mexico debrief: Part 1

Now the dust has settled on Guanajuato Rally Mexico, we take a look back and review the moments that mattered.

Driver of the rally
Seventh position wouldn’t normally be enough to claim this honour, but for Juho Hänninen just getting to the finish in Mexico this time was an achievement. The Finn was unwell throughout the event, and what started as a croaky voice on Thursday had deteriorated into a full-on fever by Saturday. But Hänninen soldiered on, explaining that in the stages his focus on driving kept his symptoms at bay. Out of the stages however he was sick as a dog. But did he complain? Not once.

Stage of the rally
Saturday’s second running of Lajas de Oro - where Sébastien Ogier’s lead challenge faltered and Meeke romped ahead - was a contender here, right up until the moment Kris Meeke put his Citroën C3 through a hedge on the Power Stage. It was a jaw-dropping moment. And the next few minutes from Mexico, streamed live around the world, were just as riveting. Mexico has a reputation for delivering edge-of-the-seat drama - whether that's cars toppling into lakes, or trying to make it back to service with a radiator full of lager - but the range of emotions stirred up by this year's finale might just top the lot!

Surprise of the rally
Mexico’s rough, high altitude stages were the sternest test yet for the 2017-spec World Rally Cars and were always likely to highlight a few teething problems. However it was a surprise that so many drivers experienced so many problems on Friday’s opening El Chocolate stage. Overheating was the common complaint for Ford, Toyota and Hyundai drivers – even though the ambient temperature wasn’t as hot as we have experienced before in Mexico.

One to forget
After a difficult start to the season, Hayden Paddon was hoping for better luck in Mexico. Instead, in his own words, he remains ‘stuck in a bit of a trough’. Like his Hyundai team-mates, Paddon was hampered by fuel filter problems on the opening day and while these were sorted for Saturday, he then had to contend with an early position in the road order and a car set-up that did not inspire confidence. Even the rain seemed to conspire against him on Stage 15 when a torrential downpour arrived just as he reached the start line. “That pretty much sums up my season so far,” he shrugged.


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