Motorsport Italia team co-ordinator Jack de Keijzer reflects on leg one of Rally Mexico with Michal Kosciuszko finishing up eleventh overall in his Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC car...
It was an early start for the team on today. We left the hotel at 5.30am. Fortunately it's just opposite the Service Park!
When the rally starts, I spend most of my day staring at monitors and handling computers and phones. I have to make sure that I know exactly what's going on and keep everyone else updated too. For the crew it's a different test! I was able to keep cool working from the Rally Mexico Service Park, the Poliforum, but out on the stages it was an average temperature of 25 degrees!
Michal and [co-driver] Maciek [Szczepaniak] took on 11 stages today, including the brand new 30.57km El Chocolate test. They were also first on the road, which is a real challenge and meant that they were on road sweeping duty all morning. They relished the opportunity to tackle cleaner stages this afternoon!
It was quite an uneventful day. The biggest excitement came on SS3, El Cubilete, when a stray dog wandered out in front of the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC. Luckily Michal avoided hitting him! Otherwise, everything went according to plan on the morning loop until the final road section back to midday service when one tyre exploded due to a puncture. This didn't cost the crew any time in terms of the classification, but it does mean they have one less precious tyre available for Days Two and Three!
Michal used DMACK H3 hard tyres throughout the day, having chosen softs for the two street stages yesterday evening. This seemed like a good choice, especially considering that today was a rough set of stages. Tomorrow's seven tests should be easier on the tyres!
SS6, El Chocolate, is a new adaptation of the old rally route and features on the itinerary for the first time this year. It's slippery and puts a lot of pressure on the brakes. Michal's brakes overheated during the stage, so at midday service we replaced them.
The test proved tough second time around too. Michal bent the rear left toe link on his MINI approximately 8km from the end of the stage, costing him around 40 seconds. However, he stopped on the road section to replace it and was able to continue through SS12 and SS13 without any further problems.
Day One safely completed, Michal is currently 11th overall with the Top 10 in his sights and still focused on picking up WRC points on his third event of the season. Overall, it was a positive day – he even got a bar of chocolate at the end of SS6, El Chocolate, in honour of the history of the region. That seems like a good custom to introduce for coordinators… :-)
That's all for now folks! More tomorrow.