After a difficult start to the 2017 World Rally Championship, Hyundai is ready to reassert its credentials as Championship contenders at Rally Mexico. The event is the third round of this year’s campaign.
The crews will have to adapt quickly to the much warmer Mexican climate after the coldest event on the calendar. The Mexican event is one of only three rallies to be held outside of Europe. In addition to the hotter temperatures, one of the largest challenges posed by the event is the altitude. Some stages are at nearly 3,000m above sea level.
The team carried out a five-day test in the Granada region of Spain to prepare for Mexico. All three crews had time in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in conditions that replicate those expected next weekend. The car’s engine has been put through its paces on the dyno in a bid to minimise the impact of the lower oxygen levels on the higher stages, which can reduce engine power.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented:
“Mexico is without a doubt one of the toughest events on the schedule with the altitude and massively different climate to our last event in Sweden. These conditions will push the drivers and the cars to the limit, but we are happy with the work that we have done to prepare for this rally. Obviously the last couple of events have been difficult for us but we cannot dwell on that. We know what the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC is capable of and we have seen our ability to challenge for the win. We are confident that we can come back strongly in Mexico, where we memorably scored our first ever WRC podium in 2014.”
Thierry Neuville and Belgian co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul want to bounce back after a harsh run of results so far this season. The crew heads to Mexico hoping to build on the impressive pace that they have displayed in the opening two rounds.
Thierry Neuville commented:
“Mexico is a unique event and one which brings back happy memories of the team’s first WRC podium back in 2014. It is the first hot event of the season. That, combined with the fact that the event takes place at such a high altitude, makes it special. It’s an enjoyable rally. We can really push because of the knowledge and experience we have from the previous seasons. We are confident that we can perform well. The car has already demonstrated what it can do in Monte and Sweden. So we have to go out there and show what we know we are capable of. We’re determined to fight back!”
The Spanish pairing of Dani Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí just missed out on a podium finish in Mexico last season. So they will be aiming to rectify that this season. The duo enjoyed a solid run to fourth in Sweden. But the gravel terrain and fiesta feel of Rally Mexico could allow them to go one better next weekend.
“I am excited about Rally Mexico because it is the first gravel event of the year and for our car. Thanks to the additional power, it should be an even more spectacular rally than normal. Making the transition from wintry conditions in Sweden to the warmer climate of Mexico is all part of life in the WRC. We have spent time preparing for the change, with the most important process being adapting our bodies . I am confident we can put ourselves in the podium fight.”
Fit for Mexico.In @39montecarlo and their altitude cambers I can train my strength and cardio in high altitude simulating the lost of oxygen pic.twitter.com/ouC6u2d9xM
— Thierry Neuville (@thierryneuville) 24 February 2017