Press Conference: Rally Guanajuato Mexico

Present: Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen), Kris Meeke (Citroën), Elfyn Evans (M-Sport Ford) & Benito Guerra (Ford).

Q: Andreas, you come to Mexico after the incredible battle of Rally Sweden where we saw you head into the final stage of the event with the possibility of the win - it wasn’t to be that time. Do you feel the experience of Sweden has made you stronger?

AM: "Yes, we were close to winning and then I made a mistake and it was over, but over the weekend we led the rally by 20 seconds and a lot of drivers tried to hunt me down. I made a mistake on Saturday and lost the time. I need to defend a lot better.

"I hope it is better this time in Mexico. I have only been here one time and I had two crashes in three days. That is not a good history here. I will treat it like a new rally." 

Q: Even so, do you think you can be fighting at the front?

AM: "It will be difficult to fight like Sweden. I think it’s hard to go flat out like Sweden. There are so many things to hit and things to catch you out. I think the answer is a consistent, fast pace." 

Q: And your thoughts about Rally Mexico?

AM: "There is a fantastic atmosphere at this rally. The start in Guanajuato is something very special and unique. I am looking forward to that. The Mexican people are so friendly and smiling." 

Q: So what will be your approach to the event?

AM: "I believe the long stages suit me well and my fitness is good. We will be running early on the road, so I am quite happy that the first stages will flow quickly into each other. Saturday is not that bad. I like the stages. With the heat as well, I should be in good a position."

Q: Kris, this will be your second attempt at Rally Mexico, you have a strong road position from which to start from. How confident do you feel ahead of the event?

KM: "Like Andreas, I made two mistakes in three days last year as well. I have seen all the kilometres of the stages and, even on the recce, it was pleasant. Last year, it was difficult on the recce. You were always looking on the inside and outside of the tracks for obstacles.

"This year it was more simple on the recce, but no less tricky. I want to have a clean rally and I have a good road position even though that is down to two poor results."

Q: We have seen pace from you, but also some small mistakes as you say - what can you do here to eradicate the mistakes?

KM: "There were two tricky rallies in Monte and Sweden. Monte is a bit of a lottery and different tyre conditions and a simple error caused my retirement on the second day.

"Every driver in Sweden drifted into a snow bank at some point. It just depended how you went in and how much time you lost. Saying that, I had points on the board in both rallies." 

Q: Do you feel any pressure from yourself and from the team to achieve a good result?

KM: "I think it goes without saying that I want a good result and so do the team. If I do my job well, we are all happy!

"I hope there is no rain. My road position is favourable. The first stage on Friday does not clean so much. The second one does a bit and the first car is penalised quite a lot. But there is not much difference for the fourth to sixth cars on the road.

"I need to concentrate on my driving and let the times take care of themselves. As Andreas said, the start is pretty special. Tens of thousands turn out to watch the start. The town is so colourful and, at night through the tunnels, the stage is superb. It only runs for around 50 seconds, but we all look forward to it."

Q: Elfyn, for you it is also the second time of competition here in Mexico - what did you learn last year that will help you this time around?

EE: "I am feeling pretty good. This is a tricky event like they (Kris and Andreas) said and the attrition rate is pretty high here. I had a good result last year, but I was not on the pace and need to find a safe and competitive pace this time."

Q: What preparations have you been doing in terms of testing and physical training to get ready for Mexico?

EE: "I feel pretty good, I am not worried about it. The long stages will be tough but I am prepared and we will do as well as we can." 

Q: When you look back over the past learning year in the WRC, have you improved your pace as much as you would like? What are your strengths and weaknesses now do you feel?

EE: "I feel there have been massive improvements. From Monte Carlo and Sweden, we have seen a jump in my pace from last year, but small errors on both events have been costly.

"I want to get to the finish here without trouble. I think we have to go with the feeling and not be taking risks that result in going off. I need to have a good clean rally and enjoy it."

Q: Benito, fantastic to see you return to competition here at your home event. We see you in the Fiesta WRC, how ready are you for the event ahead?

BG: "I am so happy to be back in the WRC in a World Rally Car and this time supported by GTO, the Government of Guanajuato. I will try to improve on sixth overall last year.

"I need to have more kilometres in a World Rally Car really to be on the pace of these crazy guys. My shakedown times were better than last year and I think we could start with a good set-up and try and improve every day." 

Q: It’s always too tough to compete against the best in the world when we don’t see you on every event, what is your hope this weekend?

BG: "I think I should compare myself to myself only. I want to improve my pace in every corner and you need to learn something new. This is only my third rally in a World Rally Car and, on the shakedown in the morning, I felt better than last year.

"I need more rallies and more testing to be more competitive. This is my first time in this new car and there were a lot of things to be here; I am with the Motorsport Italia team and the car is from the Netherlands. I collected it from Mexico City airport and brought it here. Tonight will be an amazing start, the best start of the championship. People support all of the drivers."

Q: In terms of further events, what is the plan?

BG: "I am planning to be in more events – to be in Europe. I would like to do Argentina, but this is expensive for sponsors. I also try to be in Portugal and Poland and good results there will mean more sponsorship."

Q: And your thoughts on the stages?

BG: "The surfaces of the stages are much better than last year. They are a little bit wider and easier for us to drive a bit faster. I remember the videos from last year, the stages are much better this time.

"I am going to attack on the El Chocolate stage. It’s important to attack if you feel confident. Then we have Minas and Mexicanos. They are really nice with a good top speed. I would like good stage times on Friday to give myself a fighting chance on Saturday and Sunday."

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About this article
Series WRC
Event Rally Mexico
Drivers Kris Meeke , Benito Guerra , Andreas Mikkelsen , Elfyn Evans
Article type Press conference
Tags rally mexico