Whilst the winter prevailed in Europe, the third round of the World Rally Championship visited Leon for the first time, for the Corona Rally of Mexico. Fast, technical and tricky stages, at an altitude of 2000 meters in a hot sunny climate were...
Whilst the winter prevailed in Europe, the third round of the World Rally Championship visited Leon for the first time, for the Corona Rally of Mexico. Fast, technical and tricky stages, at an altitude of 2000 meters in a hot sunny climate were the characteristics of the event.
The Mexican challenge gave Antony Warmbold his first opportunity of 2004 to drive his M-Sport prepared Ford Focus WRC02 on gravel, which is his preferred surface. The German driver made a good start, adopting a good rhythm and without any mistakes. A good and promising start was made, however stage three would be the first test for the crew, when caught in a freak shower the crew witnessed their windscreen wipers failing and lost a lot of time as a result.
Tenth at the end of the first day of competition, Antony Warmbold and Gemma Price were supposed to run second on the road for the Saturday, however after the retirement of the Italian Gigi Galli, it was their turn to open the road for the duration of the second leg, the longest and the most difficult of the Rally " Once again, we were first on the road during the second day. Without any marks from previous cars, on a rally that nobody knows, it is not simple especially with such a very tricky day. So, we decided to adopt a safe rhythm in order not to destroy the car, also with 80 kilometres of special stage to run in a loop it was essential to preserve our Michelin tyres "explained Antony. In the midday service park, Antony changed his car set-up in order to correct an under steering issue on his Ford. He picked up the rhythm in the last loop of the day, while keeping a certain reserve for safety, like the other Fords of Martin and Duval. Antony and Gemma finished the second leg in 9th position, 4 seconds behind Gilles Panizzi.
The goal of the third and last day was simple: to go to the finish of the event "Our car leaves directly from Mexico to New Zealand, so we had nothing to win but so much to lose on this last day, it was thus necessary to carry on with this rhythm. My friend Gilles Panizzi, who started behind me on the road, asked me not to decrease my pace too much in order not to cause him too much dust, because he was pushing for 7th place"
After an encouraging start of the season, this 9th position acquired in Mexico confirms Antony's potential. The season is still long and gradually the German driver increases in speed, whilst carrying out controlled races, like here Mexico, thus allowing him to finish a high number of events, and gain as much experience as possible " the nature of this round, with very fast stages, which become suddenly technical and difficult, did not allow me to go as fast as I wanted to. All the changes of rhythm were really surprising here, if you wanted to go to the end here, you had to be very reflective and controlled. The next race, in New Zealand, should give me the opportunity to push a little harder. Anyway, our Ford Focus WRC, formidably prepared by M-Sport, is a real pleasure to drive on the gravel, like anywhere else."
The next event, Rally New Zealand will start on April 16th. As one of the highlights of the WRC calendar, it will allow the drivers to use their engines fully, and push hard on the fast flowing stages.