Former World Rally Championship regulars Xavi Pons, Dani Sola, Toni Gardemeister and Harri Rovanper? will spearhead the entry on the inaugural Rally of Nations being run to cover Mexico's absence from this year's WRC calendar.

Although still running as Corona Rally Mexico, the 2009 event - due to be staged over the weekend of 9-12 July - will incorporate a separate competition where each country's nominated team of two will be awarded both driver and team points according to their stage position, with two titles up for grabs at the end of the event.

"The idea of this is to bring the emotional side of the Olympic Games or World Cup to the automobile world," the event website proclaims.

Both Spain and Finland are clearly trying to claim the crown, fielding strong nominated pairs for the Guanajuato-based event, with Pons and Sola bearing the Spanish flag, and Gardemeister and Rovanpera 'teaming up' for the honour of their part of Scandinavia.

All four drivers have previously competed on Corona Rally Mexico during its spell as a staple on the WRC calendar, with Sola winning the 2004 PWRC category, and the two Spanish drivers bring experience of world championship competition with teams such as Mitsubishi, Subaru, Citroen and Ford to the 2009 event.

"I'm thrilled to represent Spain alongside Dani," Pons, who will campaign a similar Mitsubishi to his team-mate, commented, "I have done the Mexican circuit three times and it is, without a doubt, one of my favourites among those I've experienced. I am in good shape and hope to do well. I would like to congratulate the organizers on this project - the Rally of Nations is a great idea."

Gardemeister, meanwhile, has been a member of teams such as SEAT, Skoda, Ford, Citro?n, Mitsubishi and Suzuki since making his WRC debut in 1997, and has six podiums to his name from that time. He also has fond memories of Corona Rally Mexico, having been the first driver to cross the start line as leader of the WRC standings in 2005.

Gardemeister will also be behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, while Rovanpera makes a belated return to Gp.N machinery in a similar car.


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