Tough gravel roads, searing temperatures and power-sapping altitude will be on the menu this weekend when the WRC serves up round three of this year's series at Rally Guanajuato México (9-11 March).
This year's 15th anniversary event reverts back to a ceremonial start in the city of Guanajuato in central Mexico and will also feature a new Live TV Power Stage.
The rally will kick off on Thursday evening with a modified 2.53km stage that passes through the historic heart of the city amid a network of underground silver mine tunnels.
Competitors will complete this test before the opening ceremony in front of the iconic Alhóndiga de Granaditas building. The rally proper starts on Friday, when crews set off for the high-altitude dirt roads east of host city León.
Friday is the longest of the weekend with 155.15km of competition. A loop of three stages is driven twice, starting with the 26.05km Duarte - Derramadero. This is followed by a 31.44km version of El Chocolate - both the longest stage of the rally and the highest point of the season at more than 2700 metres above sea level - and the 17.23km Ortega.
The day also features two 2.3km tests at León’s motor racing circuit [SSS Autodromo de Leon] and one pass through the 1.11km Street Stage next to the city's service park.
Saturday starts with another loop of three stages; Guanajuatito (30.97km), Otates (26.37km) and the live TV El Brinco (9.98km). All are repeated after a mid-point service and before two more blasts around the race circuit and a final pass though the Leon Street stage.
Sunday's final leg kicks off with the 24.32km Alfaro before a first pass through an 11.07km version of Las Minas. Las Minas is repeated as the live TV Power Stage, replacing last year's Derramadero - the scene of Kris Meeke's astonishing car park detour,
The 22 stages cover 344.49km in a compact total route of 1,055.88km.
- Thursday evening in Guanajuato is unmissable. The colour, sights and sounds of the opening ceremony are an experience to savour and the stage through former mining tunnels is unique. The extended test features more of the town’s landmarks and is held before the ceremony outside the Alhóndiga de Granaditas museum.
- The Autódromo de León test at the city’s motor racing circuit is one of the year’s best super specials. It mixes asphalt and gravel, featuring a big jump and water splash. Held on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- High-flying action at the famous El Brinco jump on Saturday. Located shortly before the finish of the stage, which is driven twice.
- Sunshine! After the winter weather in Monte-Carlo and Sweden, the WRC contingent is more than happy to take in a few rays.