“The Mex­i­cans are like you and me: they are rally folk”

Motor Sport News - - Rally Mexico -

It’s 12 years since the World Rally Cham­pi­onship first ar­rived in Mex­ico. Then, Leon was the new boy in class, ea­ger to please, home­work in on time and no ques­tions asked; teacher asked, teacher got. How times have changed. Mex­ico’s in the up­per-sixth now and tak­ing no non­sense. Some might say, there’s even the demon­stra­tion of head boy po­ten­tial, house cap­tain at the very least.

Don’t get me wrong, the Rally Mex­ico or­gan­is­ers re­main deeply re­spect­ful of the FIA and WRC Pro­moter, but they’ve found a voice and they’re not afraid to use it.

Last week’s long-stage for­mat event di­vided opin­ion. Sun­day’s 50-miler was a case in point. It didn’t work for the pro­moter. Be­ing one test, it of­fered one set of on­boards and one set of end-of-stage in­ter­views: could those 50 miles not have been di­vided in two? Or three? Imag­ine the hike in the day’s value from three or four stages…

I can un­der­stand the con­cept of more stages equalling more value, but I se­ri­ously strug­gle with the in­abil­ity to grasp the story those 50 miles of­fered in one hit. That stage was the story last week.

I found my­self con­cerned at the need for ex­pla­na­tion of the chal­lenge, not to men­tion the im­pli­ca­tions for our sport’s her­itage and his­tory. Clearly, there is lit­tle room for such de­lib­er­a­tions in the eco­nom­i­cally driven world of pro­mo­tion.

For­tu­nately, the Mex­i­cans are like you and me. They’re rally folk, not money mak­ers.

I’m not naive or blink­ered enough not to see the need for the work of WRC Pro­moter – and I gen­uinely be­lieve it’s do­ing a very, very good job – but there still needs to be room for what makes our sport great. And those 50 miles did just that last week.

The head of sixth has doubt­less asked event boss Pa­trick Su­berville and his team to have a think; re­con­sider that last – slightly too rad­i­cal – as­sign­ment and bring it more into line with cur­rent think­ing be­fore the next les­son.

Su­berville will do that. He’ll give it due con­sid­er­a­tion, he’s a sen­si­ble, rea­son­able man. But then he’ll do the best by Mex­ico.

Such is the con­fi­dence of this event, it’s ready to go its own way and do its own thing. Rally Mex­ico has be­come one of the greats and an event the WRC would be poorer with­out. The or­gan­is­ers know that, they re­alise their changed po­si­tion and they’re not afraid to use some of the power that brings. Good on them.

They’ve worked des­per­ately hard to ed­u­cate a lo­cal pop­u­la­tion, some of whom thought rally cars were only there to have rocks thrown at them, while de­vel­op­ing an event with char­ac­ter and in­tegrity. There are times when this event looks like it’s in a class of its own.

MARCH 9 2016

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