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