Welcome to Rally Flashback, where we look back to a previous version of the upcoming round of the WRC. Mexico is one of the newest events on the calendar, and that means we can’t go as far back as we would like to. Bear with me though, as this is one of the most difficult and different events of the calendar, and the only one in North America this year.
The most special thing about Mexico is the altitude. With all the action happening above 2000 metres above sea level, the turbocharged cars gasps for the oxygen that isn’t there, with a subsequent power reduction. This is an unusual feeling for the drivers, and the speed you can carry around the corners decides how fast you will be on the straights to a larger degree than normal. Some try to solve this by keeping the throttle flat as much as possible, but then all the loose gravel could catch you out as well. The first car on the road is always suffering from sweeping away the gravel, and rocks are often pulled up on the second passes.
In 2008 we were well into the Loeb era, but the improvement of Mikko Hirvonen and the impressive start of the season from the young Jari-Matti Latvala were positive signs for the sport. The Ford men had the pace to challenge Loeb, but could they be consistent enough? Petter Solberg and Subaru had previously won this rally, but struggles with the car had kept them from winning anything since 2005. Now they were mostly waiting for the new hatchback that should revive the Norwegians career, as well as developing Chris Atkinson into a good driver. Also promising good times for the sport is Suzuki, with former JWRC champion PG Andersson and Toni Gardemeister.
The highlights video also includes Dani Sordo as Loeb’s teammate in Citroën, along with Latvala the only driver seen here to enter in 2016. The now dominant Sebastien Ogier was driving a Citroën C2 S1600, and Mexican Benito Guerra was driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII. We also see Henning Solberg, Gigi Galli and Matthew Wilson for Stobart Ford. The main question back then was as it is now though: Can someone beat Sebastien? Watch the video below to find out.