WRC 2017 Rally Mexico preview: Thierry Neuville of Hyundai is fastest in shakedown

Ken Sunny
WRC Rally Mexico

After the first two rounds in Europe, FIA World Rally Championship is entering Latin America this weekend. The 2017 Rally Guanajuato Mexico has been scheduled from March 9 to March 12 and a new-era of world rally cars is facing gravel action for the first time in Mexico.

The rally will start with two speed tests at Zocalo square. The square is no stranger to spectacular stunts. It was in the skies above Zocalo that the helicopter fight scene which launched James Bond movie Spectre was filmed.

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Also read: WRC 2017: Complete schedule, rally days, drivers, teams, cars, new regulations explained

The entire rally is transported to the capital by air and road from the rally base in Leon, 400km far from Zocalo. Competitors will twice drive the 1.57km CDMX street stage in the square and surrounding streets. Afterwards the rally will return to Leon through of 370km of gravel special stages over the following three days in the hot and dusty mountains of central Mexico before Sunday afternoon's finish.

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"The start and first stage in Mexico City is great for the sport and a fantastic way to attract new rally fans. The atmosphere in Mexico has always been great because the fans are so passionate, and I think in Mexico City their enthusiasm will be on a totally new level," said championship leader Jari-Matti Latvala of Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Hyundai Motorsport's Thierry Neuville was fastest in shakedown at Rally Mexico on Wednesday. Neuville was quickest on his third and final pass through the test in a Hyundai i20 Coupe, 1.7sec quicker than Sebastien Ogier's Ford Fiesta. Kris Meeke completed the top three in a Citroen C3, a further half second back. Latvala was struggled and finished fourth in a Toyota Yaris, meaning all four different manufacturer teams were represented in the top four places. This also indicates the third round may see a new driver lifting the trophy.

Sebastien Ogier of M-Sport is the winner of season opener Rallye Monte-Carlo and Latvala was second. In the second round at Rally Sweden, Latvala gifted first victory to Toyota in WRC in Japanese outfit's return to the sport.

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