The third round of the 2008 World Rally Championship takes the series to Mexico where the stages twist through the hills near Leon, in the state of Guanajuato, which is situated at an altitude of 1,800 metres. Citroen Total has entered two C4 WRCs...
The third round of the 2008 World Rally Championship takes the series to Mexico where the stages twist through the hills near Leon, in the state of Guanajuato, which is situated at an altitude of 1,800 metres. Citroen Total has entered two C4 WRCs for Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti, while the C4 WRC entered by Conrad Rautenbach/David Senior will be run by PH Sport with support from Citroen Sport Technologies technicians.
The WRC regulars look forward to the Mexican fixture and one of the reasons for that is the fact that it is the first outing of the year on gravel, the season's most frequently encountered surface type (10 rallies from 15). "Mexico tends to be dry and hot, and it is also the year's first dirt rally," confirms Citroen Sport's Technical Manager, Xavier Mestelan-Pinon. "Once the first three events are behind us, we will have a clearer picture of this season's key players and of the areas in which we will need to improve in our bid to win the Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles."
The route is practically identical to that of 2007, with 354km of against-the-clock action. "The fact that the stages are repeated from one year to the next is something we need to take into account," continues Xavier Mestelan-Pinon. "The conditions could be rougher this time round and the high altitudes we visit -- up to 2,700 metres -- will again play a key role. Because of the lower atmospheric pressure, the engines deliver less power and their cooling systems work less efficiently. That said, this is known territory for us now and we took these parameters into account during our test programme for this rally."
"When you make a mistake and drop points, you're bound to feel a certain amount of pressure at the start of the following event," recognizes Sebastien Loeb. "That will probably be the case for me in Mexico which isn't a simple event. The stages are quite varied, with a mix of wide, smooth roads and slower, twistier portions. The tyre factor will be important, too. The hard packed surface generally gives good grip, but it remains to be seen how it goes with our new Pirelli tyres. There is also a question mark concerning whether the dropping of mousse run-flat systems will lead to more punctures? It's a factor I will need to take into account in the way I drive, and I will also need to adapt my style to the lower engine power at high altitudes. We won this event last year, so we know that the C4 WRC is competitive in Mexico, and the whole team has worked very hard since last year's visit. I will still tackle it cautiously, though, because we can't afford to let the gap with our rivals get bigger."
"Mexico is something of a special event for me," smiles Dani Sordo. "It's a long way from Spain but it feels a bit like home. I like the atmosphere and the spectators give us a warm welcome. Like their Spanish counterparts, they let their enthusiasm show and it's always nice to have their support. With the Manufacturers' championship in mind, it will be important to try to finish ahead of our rivals in order to pocket as many points as possible for Citroen. It won't be easy, but I enjoyed good runs on my first two visits here. I feel at ease on these stages and I hope I will feel as comfortable with the C4 in Leon as I did recently in the slippery conditions we faced in Sweden. I will also try to profit from my running order on the first day."