Rd.2 Corona Rally Mexico

Production Car World Rally Championship
 
9 to 11 March 2007

PREVIEW

Healthy squad of SUBARU entrants headed for Mexico

7 March 2007
Copyright © STI 
In conditions that could hardly be more contrasting to those encountered on the opening round of the season, Round 2 of the 2007 P-WRC, Corona Rally Mexico takes place on the arid stages around Leon, in one of the hottest and driest events of the year.

For SUBARU and STI, last year's Rally Mexico was a resounding success as Nasser Al Attiyah followed Toshi Arai home in second, with series' debutants Leszek Kuzaj starring in fourth and Sergei Uspenskiy equally impressive in fifth.

With drivers having to contest six out of the eight P-WRC rounds to be eligible for the 2007 P-WRC title, this event sees a number of competitors making their season debut on the South American event.

Driving for the SYMS Team, Cypriot Spyros Pavlides gets his season underway in Mexico, and also his career with the eponymous Japanese team. SUBARU Rally Team Poland driver Leszek Kuzaj, who did such a fine job with fourth place on his P-WRC debut here last season, also starts his 2007 campaign here. Reigning RANC (Rally America National Championship) sensation Travis Pastrana is another who'll make his P-WRC entrance on this round, running with the Japan-based SUBARU International Rally Team, in a car he will share throughout the year with Takuma Kamada.

In all, there will be nine spec C Impreza runners from the total 17 P-WRC entrants on the event; Arai, Loris Baldacci, Pavlides, Kristian Sohlberg, Al Attiyah, Kuzaj, Alex Dorosinskiy, Mirco Baldacci and Pastrana. Undoubtedly however, the man to beat will be Toshi Arai. After his convincing win on the Mexican stages in 2006, much is expected of the veteran Japanese driver and his equally experienced Kiwi co-driver Tony Sircombe. A few of the first-timers, namely Travis Pastrana and possibly Spyros Pavlides, could mount a serious challenge on this demanding gravel event.

Rally Mexico first played host to a round of the P-WRC in 2004, the same year it joined the WRC. It has always proved to be a daunting event, both in terms of the rough terrain and weather conditions over the three days of competition.

George Donaldson - STI Group N Project General Manager:

"A fierce battle can be expected as a large number of gravel specialists will be on hand. Namely, I couldn't put anything between Toshi, Mirco, Nasser and Kristian. However, I expect equally strong challenges for the lead from Leszek, Travis and Alex Dorosinskiy. We mustn't forget Ken Block, also competing here, though outside of the P-WRC. We have to remember both he and regular teammate Travis Pastrana are driving P-WRC cars for the first time. They are normally used to the more powerful open class version of the Production car. They will spend this event learning the techniques of Group N.

"With Mexico providing quite a unique challenge at high altitude, the driving style is very different from other gravel rallies. We have a 20-30% drop in power so driving lines must be kept clean and the car less sideways than usual.

"We had a good test on Monday with most of our drivers attending. It was a tough morning as they tried to find the set-up to allow the necessary driving style but we had good reports of success in this respect. I am looking forward to see how well these modifications to the car translate into top stage times. We must also remember that this event has always had an element of high attrition and is a bit of an endurance event. I expect some of those who simply stay clear of problems and not try to post top times to reach into the podium positions."