AND ONTO THE GRAVEL... After the frost and the icy conditions of Monte Carlo, and the snow and sheet ice of Sweden, the Corona Rally MÃ©xico is the Championship's first gravel event out of the ten competed on that surface. Since 2004, LeÃ³n, ...
AND ONTO THE GRAVEL...
After the frost and the icy conditions of Monte Carlo, and the snow and sheet ice of Sweden, the Corona Rally México is the Championship's first gravel event out of the ten competed on that surface. Since 2004, León, the leather and shoes capital culminating at 1819 m, hosts for a week the FIA World Rally Championship's caravan.
To this comeback on gravel is also added the pleasure to compete in sunny and warm conditions - while Europe still lives a cold winter -- in a country famous for its History, from Quetzalcóatl to Pancho Villa, and for its 'fiestas'.
For the North American round of the championship, the Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team, currently second in the Manufacturers' standings, enters two 2006 Xsara WRCs which will be driven by Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio. For the World Champion car, Citroën Sport has homologated on the 1st of March a new front bumper in the aim of improving the engine's cooling system but also its reliability and its longevity.
Thanks to his Spanish supports, who were overwhelmed by his Monaco and Swedish performance, reigning Junior World Champion Dani Sordo rents a 2005 Xsara WRC to Kronos Racing which he enters under his own name. As usual he benefits from the experience of co-driver Marc Marti.
Situated on Mexico's central plain, the city of León is flanked to the East by a chain of mountains. From North to South, the Sierras of Lobos, Cuatralba and Guanajuato surround a very compact rally route. The special stages average altitude culminate to 2300 meters, with a record for stage 2/5, which has changed its name this year for 'Guanajuato', and which reaches 2737 meters in the area of the village of El Tablón.
At these altitudes, where people would ski in Europe, even turbocharged engines gasp for breath in the rarefied air, a consideration which calls for specific mapping. "The obvious loss of power is surprising at the beginning" explains Sébastien Loeb. "You feel it even more because you tend to over think about it... Then you get used to it and you forget. In any case, we are all faced to the same problem..."
This year, the drivers have to concentrate on another matter. For the first time, the 2006 WRCs compete on gravel without front and rear electronic differentials. Obviously all teams have worked hard according this new regulation, and after his tests, including testing the BFGoodrich range, Sébastien Loeb felt satisfied with the car's balance and confident with its potential.
The reigning World Champion really appreciates the Mexican event. He had shown incredible speed on the past two editions although never succeeding to finish on the podium. No one would have forgotten last year's outstanding finale when he gained two positions in the event's ultimate stage. If it is necessary to drive at such speed to claim for a win, Seb knows he can do it....