Motorsport Italia team co-ordinator Jack de Keijzer looks ahead to Rally Mexico, where the team will hope for a top ten finish for Michal Kosciuszko in his Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC car...
Hello everyone, my name's Jack, the Motorsport Italia Team Coordinator, and I'll be your 'guide' for Rally Mexico.
It's the tenth anniversary of Rally Mexico and this'll be my fifth time there and second year in-a-row working on the event with Michal and Maciek. Last season they were competing with our sister team Ralliart Italy, but now we're all working on the MINI project.
Michal is more confident about this event than he was about Monte Carlo or Sweden and we're really hoping for a top ten finish. He hasn't had the chance to test his MINI John Cooper Works WRC since Sweden, but he's familiar with the Mexican gravel, having competed here three times before (and finishing in the Top 3 in his class each time!).
However, it isn't an easy event, because of the altitude. The service park alone is at 1,800m and the stages are up to over 2,600m. This altitude means the barometric pressure drops and there is less oxygen. That limits the amount of air the engine can take in and, therefore, the engine power. In these conditions, you also have to reduce the amount of fuel in the car to get it going and the less fuel, the less energy, which also limits the horsepower. All together, this is a strange sensation for any driver!
The rally is one of the shorter events on the WRC calendar at just under 400km, but it still feels like a real endurance test for the crews. I have a lot of confidence in Michal and Maciek though. They're always very precise and prepare carefully.
I'm already here in Léon getting ready for the rally. It's our first long haul event of the season, which means that we had to pack our container off in January with everything we would need for the rally. My first job today is to check the container in the service park. I like the Mexican service park, the Poliforum - it has a really positive atmosphere and is different because it's indoors.
I really love Rally Mexico and I'm not just saying that! Firstly, the Mexican spectators are great. I don't think there are fans like them anywhere else in the world. They're mad about the sport and they all cheer the cars and line the stages whatever the conditions! Another thing very close to my heart - this year the itinerary contains the 31-kilometre El Chocolate Special Stage, allegedly named, because that's where chocolate was invented. Thank goodness it was exported to my home country, Holland! ☺
Léon is also a very nice place. It's quite a cultural centre. There's an amazing leather industry, especially in shoes, and the hotels and restaurants are always fantastic. I have a good feeling it's going to be a great rally.
Watch this space and I'll be back with updates during the week.