The Corona Rally México in it’s edition Rally of Nations 2009 got off to a colorful start in the city of Guanajuato, to the sound of mariachis, and folk music that set many a foot tapping, together with many other expressions of Mexican culture. Guanajuato, a World Heritage town, threw quite a bash to welcome the 45 crews who will be fighting for first place tomorrow, when the race is on.
The main ceremonial start for this edition took place in front of both the Juárez Theatre and the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, where more than 30,000 people gathered to give rally participants a typically warm Mexican welcome, and to wish them good luck in the race.
The icing on the cake was an appearance by 2003 WRC champion, the Norwegian Petter Solberg, who rode in on a motorcycle to surprise the crowd, getting the Mexican feeling.
The first crew to get on the podium to receive the applause of the audience was that made up of one of the legends in world rally events, the Frenchman Didier Auriol, together with Denis Giraudet, who has been his co-driver during a great part of his history in the sport.
They were the first major names to drive onto the podium in front of the Juarez Theatre, followed by international figures such as the Finns, Harri Rovanperä and Toni Gardemeister; the Spaniards Dani Sola and Xavi Pons; the Swede Per-Gunar Andersson; the Austrian Manfred Stohl and his female co-driver Ilka Minor, as well as promising newcomer, Andreas Aigner. The Mexican teams were well represented by the current champion in Production Car group, Rodrigo Ordoñez, as well as Ricardo Triviño a driver who has competed in several world championships.
Norwegian driver, Petter Solberg, has confirmed his presence in Guanajuato, at the Corona Rally Mexico, Rally of Nations edition. The 2003 world champion and current WRC driver will be arriving in Mexico City next Wednesday, later heading for León, Guanajuato, where he’ll be providing an alternative attraction and mixing with the other drivers and fans, his being unable to compete against the other major figures that will be there due to his packed schedule.
His arrival in the city of León is scheduled for the morning of Thursday, July 9th, and he will be attending the Shakedown, where he will probably spend at least some time behind the wheel, though not for the same reason as the competitors, but simply to offer the special guests the experience of riding shotgun with a former world champion, something that would not have happened had he been in competition.
After the Shakedown, he will be at the Poliforum, where he will be signing autographs for the public in general. The Mexican audience still recalls his 2005 victory at this very same venue, where, following his win, he celebrated, Mexican-style, in a traditional charro hat.
We can also confirm that the Norwegian driver will be present at the Start Ceremony, but this time aboard the “0” car. So, given his charisma and the special empathy he has with the Mexican fans, it’ll be quite a show. This time the start line will be in front of the Juarez Theater, with a second show in front of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas.
During the competition, there will also be driving experiences during the Scotiabank Super Special Stage, autograph signings and interviews with the media.
“I’m very excited about going back to Mexico; its rally is very well organized and the legs are really good.” The people are among the best. I remember very well all their support when I won in 2005. It was fantastic and something that I will never forget”, declared Solberg.
With this confirmation, Petter Solberg joins the contingent of world personalities at the Corona Rally Mexico, and, although he won’t be competing, he has praised the organization of this event.
Registration for Corona Rally Mexico, Rally of Nations, is now closed. With a total of thirteen countries all represented by great drivers, there will be no clear favorite to scale the podium. Eight European countries and five from the Americas will be in charge of providing the spectacle in Guanajuato, Mexico from July 9th to 12th.
Germany, Austria, Ecuador, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, the United States, Great Britain, Peru, Uruguay, Sweden and Mexico are the countries that will be competing in the Rally of Nations, each represented by two crews, except for Mexico and the United States, which will have six and four crews each, respectively, making up three Mexican teams and two from the US.
One of the most innovative features of this rally is its scoring system, whereby points are tallied for each driver individually, as well as by country. At the end of each day, a points table is complied, so time differences are irrelevant. The points table defines the starting positions for the next day and so on, up to the awards ceremony on Sunday.
The line-up of drivers that have confirmed their presence at Corona Rally Mexico, Rally of Nations edition, is quite a draw. For Finland, there will be Harri Rovanperä and Toni Gardemeister; representing Spain, Dani Sola and Xavi Pons; for Austria, Manfred Stohl and Andreas Aigner; from France, Didier Auriol and Brice Tirabassi; representing Italy, Mario Isola and Stefano Marrini; for Germany, Hermann Gassner Jr. and Mark Wallenwein; from Great Britain, Niall McShea and Phillip Morrow; from Ecuador, Juan Pablo Villota and Camilo Rivera; representing Sweden, Per-Gunnar Andersson and Patrick Sandell; for Uruguay, Felipe Guelfi and Diego Elola; from Peru, Humberto Tijero and Sandro Pestana; for the United States, Matthew Johnson and Kenny Bartram, in team 1 and Patrick Moro and Piotr Wiktorczyk in team 2; and last but not least, representing Mexico, Benito Guerra and Rodrigo Ordoñez in team 1, Ricardo Treviño and Rodrigo Salgado in team 2, and Francisco Name and José Cortés in team 3.
Already brimming with competitiveness and adrenaline, there will be an extra touch to this particular adventure as all the drivers will be competing on equal terms in N4 cars and subject to the same rules, so it will be entirely down to the skill of the crew to define the winner.
With all these attractions, Mexico and the state of Guanajuato are ready to bid a warm welcome to all the competitors, teams, fans and media, to what will undoubtedly be an unforgettable event.
To add to the fantastic quality and spectacle that is guaranteed by all the drivers who have confirmed their participation in the Corona Rally Mexico, Rally of Nations edition, the Organizing Committee has introduced speed stages that will surely be a great attraction for the audience, and which include the Super Special Scotiabank Stage in the competition’s itinerary, to take place at León’s race circuit, the Autódromo, as it has done during previous editions of WRC. In addition, a road race stage, the Coca-Cola Street Stage, is to take place for the first time in the city of León.
Once again, León’s race circuit will be the setting for a display of rallying at its highest level, where this coming July 10th, 11th and 12th, the venue will host speed stages involving head-to-head races, in which two cars will start out at the same time, competing to their maximum capacities against each other and against the clock, given that this stage is an integral part of the rally.
Under the name “Super Special Scotiabank Stage”, this phase of the rally will be played out over a 2.21 km route. On Friday 10 and Saturday 11, this route will run twice, starting at 3:00 p.m. on both days. On Sunday, July 12th, there will be only one run, starting at 10:00 a.m., so the Organizing Committee suggests the audience should arrive early because of the various side events that will be taking place.
Entrance to the race circuit costs 80 pesos in the general area, 150 pesos in the stands overlooking the straight, and 300 pesos in the marquee area. Tickets can be bought on the day at the ticket offices or beforehand via the web site, at www.rallydelasnaciones.com, where you can buy and print an e-ticket, which will be good for access, without any need to change it for a pre-printed ticket.
As for the Coca-Cola Street Stage, this will, without a doubt, be quite a novelty, since it is the first time that the Organizing Committee has tried such a thing. The stage consists of a 1.87-km route along the street that divides the Explora Park and Poliforum facilities and the Nou Camp Soccer Stadium.
In this stage, cars will set off one by one, in a race against the clock to be held on Friday, July 10th and Saturday 11th only. On Friday, things will start at around 10:30 a.m., and on Saturday, under the name “Powerade Street Stage”, at approximately 10:50 a.m. It is important to mention that this event will be free of charge.
Safety measures will be very strict and there will be public areas available, though with limited capacity, as well as special areas to accommodate authorized photographers, cameramen and journalists.
With their eyes on Corona Rally Mexico, Rally of Nations, great drivers continue to confirm their presence in Guanajuato, Mexico. Now it is Sweden’s turn to sign up two of their international drivers, Per-Gunnar Andersson and Patrik Sandell—Junior champions in 2004 and 2006 respectively—who will proudly bear their country’s flag, and who have already said they intend to win.
Having visited Mexico twice already—in 2005, when he took second place in the Junior category, and again in 2008, when as official driver for the Suzuki WRC team he was forced to drop out of the race—PG Andersson is familiar with the route of Corona Rally Mexico, something that will certainly make a difference in the Rally of Nations, which sticks largely to the previous route.
Twelve victories in the Junior category and one championship set the Swede up to drive a Suzuki WRC car in 2008, when the Japanese company first tested the waters in this, the ultimate category. Despite being his first year, Andersson managed two fifth places, a testament to his great driving skills.
“We are going to Mexico to win; Sandell and I will make a very strong team”, said Per-Gunnar.
As for his teammate, with four victories in the WRC Junior category and one championship in this same category to his name, Patrik Sandell, has expressed a strong desire to win on Mexican soil.
Sandell is currently competing in the World Rally Championship’s Production category, where he is in third place overall, having won in Norway and Cyprus.
Team director Anders Dawidson thanked Mexico for its initiative in this event. “For a long time, we have lacked a team in Rally events, and now, two of our best drivers have been given this chance to make the podium”, commented Dawidson.