Regular FIA World Rally Championship contender and Peugeot Sport driver Harri Rovanpera will contest the 2002 Corona Rally Mexico in a works-supported 206 World Rally Car.

Peugeot's commitment to the event underlines Corona Rally Mexico's status as a realistic contender for future inclusion in the World Rally Championship, North America's flagship rally having been favourably observed by the FIA last year.

Peugeot is the first manufacturer to commit one of its works drivers to the event and, although Rovanpera and co-driver Risto Pietilainen will have to fly directly to Leon from the Rally of Cyprus, there is every chance rival manufacturers will now follow Peugeot's lead.

"Peugeot has won the World Championship for the past two years and to have one of its factory drivers entered in our event is a huge boost for everyone," commented Patrick Suberville, Rally Manager of Corona Rally Mexico. "Over the years we have worked hard to organise an event worthy of inclusion in the World Championship and this is an important indication that Peugeot feels we have a realistic chance of being part of the series. Hopefully some of the other leading teams will now follow suit."

Harri Rovanpera made his rally debut in 1989 and within four years had won the Group N Finnish Rally Championship. In 1995 he claimed outright honours, adding the 2-Litre World Cup title to his list of victories the following year. A host of category wins and a second title with SEAT secured him a World Rally Car drive with the Spanish manufacturer in 1999, but it was not until the amiable Finn joined Peugeot in 2001 that he claimed his first outright victory on a round of the FIA World Rally Championship (International Swedish Rally).

Corona Rally Mexico is based in Leon, north of Mexico City, and runs from 25-28 April. The 1,178.74 kilometre route includes 22 stages over 327.11 competitive kilometres, all based from a central service location in Leon's Rally Campus.