Today’s final two stages saw the Spanish team confirm the lead it had built up over the three days of the Rally Corona México, Rally of Nations, to be finally proclaimed winners. Xevi Pons and Dani Solà were victorious in ten of the rally’s eighteen stages, accumulating a total of 1,067.5 points, followed in second place by Austrians Manfred Stohl and Andreas Aigner, who together won on four occasions. At the close of the competition, 128 points separated the two countries. The last place on the podium was taken by France, led by Didier Auriol, who, with the help of Brice Tirabassi, managed the fastest time on only one of the stages. Spain,
therefore, takes away the 50,000-dollar first prize.
Austrian driver Stohl has no reason to feel defeated, however, his being the fastest individual driver with a winning total time of 2’57:28.7 for the 18 stages, just 14.4 seconds faster than his fellow countryman Aigner. Stohl, meanwhile, walks away with 15,000 dollars for being the fastest driver on each day of the competition.
The final order of the first ten places remained unchanged from yesterday, the drivers setting out today to hold on to their positions, though still putting on quite a show for the hundreds of fans who gathered on the Guanajuato sierra, and at León’s racetrack, where the Scotiabank Super Special stage took place. The prize-giving and closing ceremony took place, as it does
every year, at the Foro del Lago, where fans came to say goodbye to the competitors.
This first edition of the Rally of Nations was enjoyed by all those who took part, all of whom expressed their admiration for this new format, one which will undoubtedly draw many more competitors in the future. The first edition of this event confirms the enormous popularity of the state of Guanajuato’s roads as a venue for rallies, it having brought together major names
from the rallying world, as can be seen from its line-up.
Rally of Nations’ unofficial positions
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.
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.
The State of Guanajuato is all set to welcome the entire contingent of those who will be participating in the Corona Rally Mexico, Rally of Nations, an event to take place from July 9th to 12th. Each nation’s representatives are taking care of the last-minute details before their arrival in Mexico this coming weekend, among them, Pirelli Team Italy, made up of Stefano Marrini and Mario Isola, under the sponsorship of Pirelli.
Since 1996, 35-year-old driver Marrini has participated in Rally events in Italy and in the World Rally Championship, where he placed eighth overall in the production category in 2006. In 2004, he took part in Corona Rally Mexico, competing in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, so he is somewhat familiar with the event. “I want to congratulate the organizers of Corona Rally Mexico; they are putting together one of the most important rally events of 2009. The idea of bringing together major names from around the world in the same cars is really interesting. I’m very happy with the service park, which is incredible, especially the crew. I wish them all good luck,” said Marrini.
Meanwhile, the Director of Pirelli Motorsport, Mario Isola, besides sponsoring his team will also be giving himself the opportunity to compete, as he has done on previous occasions. “I’m thrilled to be part of the line-up for this rally, the first for me on gravel and alongside major champions competing for their countries no less. The idea of creating this event is a great one and I want to congratulate the organizers for all the work they are doing,” commented Isola.
Pirelli Team Italy will have two Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX cars at its disposal, and all the cars in the event will be using this same Italian brand of tire, which will be an interesting situation in the Coca Cola Street Stage, which is over a paved stretch of road.
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.