Sordo "believes" in his Rally Mexico victory chances

World Rally Championship veteran Dani Sordo says a top-three finish on his return to Rally Mexico this week is the “minimum” goal he is chasing alongside navigator and countryman, Candido Carrera.

As part of his car share programme with Ireland’s Craig Breen, Sordo has been reinstated to the team for the first loose surface event of the 2023 season and believes his favourable road position on Friday represents a golden opportunity to seal a fourth top-flight win of his career.

Sordo’s best performance on the north American counter came back in 2018 when he took a hard-fought runner-up finish to then M-Sport Ford driver Sebastien Ogier by a minute and three seconds.

In 2020 – the year the Leon-based event had to be cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic – he bowed out with engine-related problems, and came home ninth overall 12 months previous to that.

This time around, however, he believes he can fulfil the objectives outlined in recent days by team boss, Cyril Abiteboul.

“Rally Mexico is an amazing event with really nice roads. The fans and spectators there have a lot of energy and passion which creates a great atmosphere for rallying,” said Sordo, who could make it a sixth podium finish in his partnership with Candido.

“It is also unique as the high altitude causes the cars to have less power, making them feel a little bit different. Physically, you have to be ready as the lack of oxygen and heat makes it very demanding on the body; it definitely makes you more tired.

“Our target for the rally is to finish as high as possible and we hope that is near the top,” he added. “If we get it right, we believe we can be in the battle for victory, but we want to be on the podium as a minimum.”

Also on the hunt for a strong performance in the Hyundai Motorsport team garage is Esapekka Lappi. Since he made the move from Toyota Gazoo Racing during the off season period, he has found life in the I20 N Rally1 a difficult one.

An eighth-place result at Rallye Monte-Carlo was followed up by seventh at Rally Sweden last time out. But for a tyre delamination that punted his car into a snow bank on the second day of the snow and ice counter, the result at round two could potentially have been better.

However, like Sordo, he is hoping a grippier racing line on the first day will pay dividends in his quest to end up on the podium come Sunday. “The stages are almost the opposite to Sweden; they are a lot slower and very technical,” said the Finn.

“It can also be quite slippery because of the small layer of loose gravel, meaning rear grip is particularly important. Our road position of sixth should be an advantage, as there should be some cleaner lines after the first cars have cleared the way.

“We want to have a consistent and strong weekend, as I feel we deserve it after the first two events. With that in mind, we should be firmly in the fight for the podium.”

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