After debuting a new livery for the Ford Puma Rally1 hybrid racer and a revamped driver lineup, the M-Sport World Rally Championship (WRC) team found quick success, securing a fifth-place finish in Monte Carlo before earning a big win in Sweden. Now, the M-Sport Ford team has set its sites on the upcoming Rally Mexico – round three of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship – which kicks off this Thursday, March 16th, and runs through Sunday, March 19th.
The 2023 Rally Mexico will mark the Puma Rally1’s North American debut, but it will also do so with the seasoned team of Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja in the cockpit – the same duo that claimed victory in Sweden last month. WRC hasn’t hosted this particular race since 2020, however, which means that all competitors will be returning to one of the more physically and technically challenging courses on the circuit, one ripe with high altitudes and scorching hot temperatures.
Mexico is also the first race of the season taking place on gravel, which just so happens to be the most common surface type in WRC. While Tänak and Järveoja currently stand atop the WRC championship rankings, this event will mark the first time fellow driver Pierre-Louis Loubet has competed in Mexico, while Adrien Fourmaux and Alexandre Coria will join the team by making their second WRC2 appearance of the season in a Fiesta Rally2.
“The key challenge for Mexico is the altitude and temperature together,” Tänak said. “Because of high altitude, the power is reduced which makes the behavior of the car quite different. The roads in Mexico are actually fun, there are stages which are very technical, and it feels like we are driving them forever in the high temperatures, but there are also faster sections with big compressions and jumps. As we are leading the championship, we need to start first on the road on Rally México, it could be a good place to start if it rains, but not sure I’m that good a (rain) dancer to get the rain in a place where it almost never rains!”