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Tue 21 Mar 2023

View from the Service Park: Mexico

For the first time in three years, the FIA World Rally Championship stepped from the depths of a freezing winter into the blazing blue skies and baking temperatures of North America last week.

How great was it to be back in Guanajuato? And how amazing to see Rally México testing the mettle of the world’s fastest cars and crews once more.

Landing into the airport in the dead of night, Europeans step off the plane, still wearing winter in the expectation of darkness meaning a slight chill. Jumpers off. We’ve skipped spring and gone directly to the perma-summer state of central Mexico.

It’s a great place to be.

This place, like every place in the WRC, is unique. Monte-Carlo brought the glamour as well as the frozen Alps; Sweden was, quite literally, a snow ball, and now we’re on the other side of the planet in a place which couldn’t look more different.

Out in the hills, high above the famous names of Derramadero and El Brinco, the colours are bleached by the year-around sun. But still, the greens in the cacti backed to the azure skies are stunning. And then you head to the cities of Guanajuato or León. The former has retained its ability to assault the senses with an intensity of colour, noise and the aroma of strong coffee and tacos being readied.

In León, one of the biggest changes came with the all-new service park facility which delivered a central piazza feel to the very heart of the rally. Mexico has always been about delivering the difference. Back in 2004, back when it all began, it was the first to take the service park indoors, then it took the sport underground into the famous Guanajuato tunnels, then it took over Zócalo – Mexico City’s main square – and now a purpose-built, tailor-made service park.

Sébastien Ogier said it all as he took a breath, stepping out of his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 on the eve of a rally he would win for a record-breaking seventh time 72 hours later, the Frenchman looked around and smiled.

“It’s nice to be back.”

He wasn’t wrong.

Guanajuato Rally México 2023: Review