Volkswagen Motorsport has said that the altitudes of 3,000 metres on Rally Mexico will be one the biggest technological challenges of the year for the new Polo WRC.
Mexico will mark the gravel debut for the new car after the events in Monte Carlo and Sweden, with the high altitude stages throwing another challenge into the mix for the team.
“The altitudes encountered at the Rally Mexico affect the engine more than any other part of the Polo R WRC,” head of engine development, Dr. Donatus Wichelhaus, said.
“On the one hand the air pressure and oxygen content of the air decrease the higher you go. On the other hand, the air resistance in the turbocharger also decreases, resulting in higher revs per minute than at any other rally.
“In the highest sections, the engine will lose about 28 to 30 per cent compared to the Rally Sweden.”
Wichelhaus also added that the team has had to run various simulations in preparation for the event to ensure engine stability and no losses of power.
Jari-Matti Latvala who drives the #7 Polo echoed Wichelhaus' view by insisting that good preparation would be key to the event.
“One of the most important aspects of preparing for Mexico is how well you can cope with the time difference,” he said. “If you have adapted to local time well, then your senses are sharper during the Recce. For this reason, I travel to California two weeks prior to the start, in order to acclimatise.
“We have to adapt in a lot of ways: unlike in Sweden, the grip level does not change as often on gravel. Despite this, your concentration is really put to the test in Mexico. For example, the longest special stage of the rally, 'Guanajuatito”, is incredibly difficult. I like the character of this stage. It is made up of very narrow sections that are technically very demanding, and also very, very quick passages.
“It has a bit of both – fast and expansive in some places, tight and technical in others. It is very diverse – just as the entire Rally Mexico is.”
By George East