|2005 FIA Junior World Rally Championship
Round 2 - Rally Mexico (10-13 March)
Saturday 12 March 2005 - Leg 2
SUZUKIS AIM TO FINISH ONE-TWO IN MEXICO!
The Suzuki Ignis of Guy Wilks continues to lead the Junior World Rally Championship classification after day two of Rally Mexico: the second round of the series. A stunning performance from Guy in which he set four fastest stage times means that he is now in the top 10 overall of the rally just two places away from a World Championship points-scoring position!
Guy Wilks still strongly leading JWRC in Mexico
His Monster Sport Europe team mate P-G Andersson was running in second until the penultimate stage of the day, when he hit a rock and damaged the engine.
P-G elected not to finish the leg, but under the new re-start rules he is allowed to re-join the rally on the final day, with a penalty of five minutes for every stage missed. Although P-G will therefore start the final day with a 10-minute penalty, his margin of more than 20 minutes over the third place man before his problem means that he keeps his second place heading into the final day.
The third Ignis of Pavel Valousek, run by JM Engineering, is fourth. Only four runners are set to remain in the junior standings on this incredibly tough event - and three of them are Suzukis!
The second day of the Rally Mexico consisted once more of six gravel stages split into two loops of three, but the roads were slightly twistier and contained more loose gravel than those used for leg one on the previous day. This made conditions extremely slippery, and the sharp rocks caught out many leading runners. The weather was very warm, with ground temperatures reaching 33 degrees centigrade. Tyre wear was once more a major factor, and the notoriously high altitude sapped engine power.
Guy started the day with a 43.4 second advantage, and extended his lead over the course of the leg to return to parc ferme in Leon with an incredible lead of more than 10 minutes. The Englishman had no mechanical problems apart from an impact with a rock on the third stage of the day that damaged the front-right suspension of his Ignis, pushing the wheel back into the arch. During the afternoon, he focussed on maintaining his advantage and keeping his concentration sharp.
Guy said: "It's been another difficult day with more loose gravel than yesterday which is making the car slide more. It's very easy to go off, and with a big lead it is all the more important to keep your concentration. So I've been listening hard to the notes and trying to keep an eye open for anything that might damage the car. There are a lot of loose stones on the road, as we found out on the third stage of the day! Luckily there was not far to go to reach service, but it just goes to show that anything can happen on these stages."
Reigning Junior World Champion P-G battled the flu throughout the day, after he woke up feeling unwell. He started the day in second place and maintained this position, but chose to stop after hitting a rock on the penultimate stage that drained the engine of its oil. His priority now is to get to the finish with himself and the car in one piece.
P-G commented: "I had not been feeling perfect for quite a few days, but today was really bad. I had a sore throat and a fever, making it really difficult to concentrate. Despite that, everything was going OK until we hit a rock on the penultimate stage. When I saw that oil was coming out of the engine, I chose to stop because I did not want to risk damaging the engine. We realised that under the current rule system we could take the time penalty for missing two stages and still come back in second place for the final day with our car as good as new again. So it seemed silly to try and carry on - I don't think we were ever going to challenge Guy for the win anyway."
Monster Sport Europe Team Manager Risto Laine said: "Guy has done a fantastic job and but he needs now to stay focussed to the finish. It's been a deceptively difficult rally so far and there is still a long way to go. Keeping concentration under these circumstances is actually a lot harder than fighting for the lead. P-G has battled the flu all day, and although it is a pity he had his problem on the penultimate stage nothing is yet lost. I'm confident that he will be able to re-start the rally tomorrow and keep his second place."
Pavel Valousek, driving an Ignis Sport run by Czech team JM Engineering, re-joined the rally today under the new re-start rules following an accident on SS1. The Czech's efforts were rewarded with fourth place overnight, after his mechanics had bravely battled to put his car back in the rally. Pavel said: "Our objective was to drive through the stages and not take any risks, I cannot afford to have another accident, and we are assured of points if we finish. I'd like to thank Suzuki for building such a tough car: without that we would not be back in the rally."
The final leg of the Rally Mexico gets underway at 0830 tomorrow (CET -7h) but contains only two stages. However, the final stage is the longest of the rally at a mammoth 44 kilometres. The winner is expected to spray the champagne back in Leon at 12:30.
Junior World Rally Championship classification at end of leg two, Rally Mexico
1 Guy Wilks (Suzuki Ignis) 3h17m16.4s
2 P-G Andersson (Suzuki Ignis) +10m39.1s
3 Luca Cecchettini (Fiat Punto) +23m58.3s
4 Pavel Valousek (Suzuki Ignis) +36m35.9s
*no remaining runners finished leg two