The Corona Rally Mexico continues to register world-class drivers. Now, Didier Auriol and Brice Tirabassi have joined forces to form Team France. Each with an impressive record of championships to his name, the two have confirmed their presence in Mexico and expressed their desire to compete in this Rally of Nations, an event they praise for its innovative format.
Didier Auriol is one of the key French names in the rallying world, having been World Champion in 1994 and achieving six victories in one season in 1992, a record that remained unbroken until 2005, when his fellow countryman, Sebastien Loeb, achieved ten.
Having competed for 16 years in the ultimate world rally circuit, Auriol has 20 victories to his name, placing him in seventh place on the list of winning drivers in the World Rally Championship, just behind other major names such as Sebastien Loeb, Marcus Gronholm, Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae, Tommi Makinen and Juha Kankkunen.
Auriol Claimed: “The concept of competing for a nation is a great idea, it gives an extra motivation because you represent your country just like an athlet at the olympic games. On top of that it’s a kind of “flash-back” in the motorsport history when the cars had their country’s color:red for italy, blue for france and so on. About the rally itself I am really looking for it because both Sebastien Loeb and my co-driver Denis told me about the fantastic mountain stages, the very compact route and the beauty of the area, specially Guanajuato. Even if I am not competing so much anymore I have still a strong motivation to win and to bring together with my team mate Brice Tirabassi the best possible result for the french squad.” He finished.
His co-team member in Team France, Brice Tirabassi, is not far behind him, which guarantees a first-rate team. Champion in France in 2002 and World Junior Champion in 2003, Tirabassi has won rallies in his category in Monte Carlo, France and Cyprus.
The 32-year old driver has made it clear that, despite his being this his first rally in Mexico, he has no intention of becoming an also-ran, and expressed how much he is looking forward to enjoying the event and Guanajuato, based on the excellent comments he has heard about both.
Auriol and Tirabassi have praised the format of the event, assuring a worldwide success, where they hope to bring victory to their country.
Major international figures continue to join the line-up of participants for Corona Rally Mexico in its Rally of Nations edition. Now, it is Austria’s turn to secure its participation with the current world champion in the production car category, Andreas Aigner, and Manfred Stohl, two of the most successful drivers this Central European country has ever produced. Both drivers have expressed their enthusiasm about competing in Mexico and their desire to win the coveted title.
With rally victories in Monte Carlo, France, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia under his belt, and the experience of having raced in WRC teams before, Manfred Stohl will compete in the Corona Rally Mexico, where in 2006 he was so successful, Stohl making it to the podium as a team member of OMV, having finished in third place just behind Sebastien Loeb and Peter Solberg.
“Mexico was a great opener to a fantastic 2006 for me, as I made the third place in a WRC car with a private team. The Corona Rally Mexico is a great event, very well organized and with an excellent crew. It will be an excellent competition and I’m ready to be there,” said Stohl.
Andreas Aigner has the best credentials: the Austrian driver is the current world champion in the production car category, and this being the official category at the Rally of Nations, he will surely be one of the favorites.
Aigner has already raced in Mexico, in 2007, and although he finished in eleventh place back then, the champion is confident: “I feel very good in Mexico; the atmosphere is incredible and the people are wonderful. They have a spectacular start”.
The Austrian team will compete behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX and are expected to arrive in Mexico in early July.
With their eyes on Corona Rally Mexico, to take place from July 9th to 12th on the outskirts of Guanajuato, Spain has stepped up to the plate by sending a first-rate racing team. International drivers Xavi Pons and Dani Sola will proudly bear the Spanish flag on their cars, their having teamed up for the Rally of Nations.
This decision makes Spain one of the favorite countries to win in Mexico, given the quality of both drivers, who have participated in previous editions of the Corona Rally Mexico, Dani Sola actually winning the 2004 WRC in the production cars category.
With victories in Germany and Corsica in the production category, a dirt rally championship in Spain in 2008 and the experience of having been an official WRC driver for Subaru, Citroën and OMV, Xavi Pons, like his fellow countryman, will be a name to watch out for in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
“I’m thrilled to represent Spain alongside Dani Sola. I have done the Mexican circuit three times and it is, without a doubt, one of my favorites among those I’ve experienced. I am in good shape and I hope to do well. I would like to congratulate the organizers on this project; the Rally of Nations is a great idea,” said Pons.
Dani Sola already has one world championship behind him in the WRC Junior category, as well as the asphalt rally of 2006 and the dirt rally of 2007 in Spain, and has experience as an official driver of the Mitsubishi team in 2004 and Ford BP in 2005, credentials which will make the Catalan a tough act to beat during the Corona Rally Mexico. Dani enjoys great appeal among Mexican motor racing enthusiasts and has friends there that will certainly be out rooting for him every day.
“It is great to go back to Mexico, for me it’s one of the best rally events in the world. The fans are wonderful and the organization is perfect. Having a Rally of Nations is a great idea and I’m convinced that it will be a success. Once again, Mexico will be one of the major players in world motorsport,” commented the Spanish driver by phone.
The level of competition in the Rally of Nations will surely become more and more interesting over the next few days as other teams are announced, including Corona Team Finland and other powerful duos.
It was a hot and humid race, but that didn’t stop Switzerland’s Neel Jani from running a good race and finishing first at the sprint race held at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this weekend. The win marks the fifth different team to win a race so far this season. It seems that despite the hot weather, it all came down to cool, calculated decisions.
A1 Team Switzerland can be very proud of themselves as it was quite an interesting race. Things got a little complicated right at the start of the race. The various cars were traveling in formation towards the starting grid, steadily picking up pace. But then Marco Andretti (USA) and Felipe GuimarÃ£es (Brazil) both managed to end up climbing over the back of Narain Karhtikeyan’s (India) car, which resulted in debris being scattered across the pit straight. The unfortunate incident brought out the red flag and suddenly cars that had been speeding up comfortably had to slow down, with the result that the cars at the back of the field ended up being somewhat concertinaed as they tried to cope with the backlash of the accidents without being involved in further accidents. John Martin (Australia) only narrowly escaped an accident by shooting left onto the grass at the last moment. The incident led to a 30-minute delay in the race and by the time the remaining contenders were all lined up for a restart behind the Safety Car, Danny Watts (GB) found himself being forced to head to the pits with a car that simply couldn’t’ be changed out of first gear.
Finally it seemed the race could continue. A1 Team Switzerland held the lead, but David Garza (Mexico) lost out on seventh place to Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands). As South Africa tried to make a grab for eighth place from Mexico who’d now lost seventh, the two were both overtaken by Fairuz Fauzy (Malaysia) who swooped inside to take the much coveted position. Unfortunately it didn’t last long as South Africa accidentally touched wheels with Malaysia as it attempted to once again get into eighth position. The result was a puncture for Fauzy which sent Malaysia to the pits. The day ended with Neel Jani (Switzerland) in first place, LoÃ¯c Duval (France) in second and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) in third.
Rally Racing is a sport where the driver is more focused on navigation and time than speed. Generally, a team of two, one driver and one navigator, compete in a series of stages. These stages take place in all driving conditions from extreme off road to friendly highways. Those who complete the stages most accurately will achieve the best time, thus winning the competition.
In many of these rallies, these teams participate in a reconnaissance run. During this run, the team will become familiar with the course and note any and all situations throughout the course. Things such as sharp turns, jumps, and hazards will be noted and referred to from navigator to driver during the race.
The largest rally is the World Rally Championships. These competitions are a series of stages throughout Europe, and in the past stages have taken place in Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia. The race is over off-road courses and street avenues and features a trophy for team and manufacture performance. Since there are two awards a team can win there can be different winners for each category. Although this is rare, it has happened. In 2003 the team from Subaru won the team competition while Citroen won the trophy for the manufacture category.
One of the more interesting rallies is the Mongol Rally. Participants of all levels meet in London, England in a car of limited power and function. Each team is given the choice of various routes to make it to Mongolia. The race travels through Russia and the Middle East. It makes for a very challenging and exciting time for each team.
For those who love the open road or a challenging course, check with a local car club. Many of these rallies are organized by grass roots car clubs and are more than willing to welcome you to their society.