This year’s Guanajuato Rally México will feature a marathon new 80-kilometer stage that organizers claim will be the longest in the World Rally Championship (WRC) for 30 years.
The new test will incorporate sections of last year’s Guanajuatito, which itself weighed in at a meaty 55 kilometers. Rechristened Guanajuato, the new challenge will open on the final day and has the potential to turn the leaderboard on its head.
Helping rally organizers unveil the 2016 event, which runs from March 4 to 7, Mexico’s leading WRC driver, Benito Guerra Jr. said the new addition would put drivers’ physical fitness to the test at a time when reserves would be running low.
“One of the toughest things is how long it takes. For the fastest drivers, it will take them around 52 or 53 minutes. I don’t know the route yet, but that’s roughly how long it’ll take us. And what most worries me about that stage is that it’s on the Sunday [Monday in Manila] because it’s one thing to do it on the Friday [Saturday in Manila] morning, when you’re still fresh, but racing over 80 kilometer on the Sunday after the full rally will be very interesting,” he explained.
“You have to keep a steady pace during that stage; keep up your concentration. And above all, make sure you’re in peak physical condition so that your body can withstand it,” Guerra added.
The rest of the itinerary is similar to 2015, with most of the action in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains north and east of host city León.
The ceremonial start will be at the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato city and will once again mark the beginning of the first stage that includes sections run underground in ancient mining tunnels. After that, cars will head for the Autodromo racetrack in León for two runs over the Super Special stage.
Las Minas and El Chocolate will be back on Saturday, while the Los Mexicanos stage has been dropped. These will be followed by the León Street Stage and then two more Super Special stages back at the racetrack.
The Ibarrilla and Otates and El Brinco stages are back on Sunday, and there will be one run through Agua Zarca – a section of Ibarrilla run in reverse. The day ends with two Super Special Stages, followed by the León street stage.
Monday opens with the 80-kilometer Guanajuato, followed by the rally closing Power Stage.