Central Mexico City echoed to the sound of rally cars on Thursday night as the FIA World Rally Championship transformed the iconic Zócalo square into a colourful and thrilling high-speed motorsport party.
Large crowds packed the heart of one of the world’s largest cities as Rally Guanajuato Mexico roared into life with two spectacular speed tests in the square and surrounding streets.
The atmosphere fizzed as the world’s best rally drivers delivered a fabulous show as they fought for crucial tenths of a second at the CDMX Street Stage presented by Michelin.
A global TV audience joined the Zócalo fiesta, played out against a backdrop of ornate colonial architecture including the city’s cathedral and national palace, as 30 different broadcasters screened the action.
A full day of activities, including demonstrations and shows, preceded the fast and furious competition over the 1.57km asphalt test.
The square is no stranger to spectacular stunts. It was in the skies above Zócalo that the stunning helicopter fight scene which launched James Bond movie ‘Spectre’ was filmed.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla described the launch of the four-day rally, round three of the championship, as ‘incredible’.
“This was another great day for the WRC,” he said. “It was remarkable to see people enjoying the exciting action in an amazing party atmosphere.
“To bring the WRC into the heart of Mexico City, which has a population of more than 20 million, is a wonderful platform on which to showcase the sport. I think the WRC gained many, many new fans today,” he said.
Finland’s Juho Hänninen led the rally in a Toyota Yaris after the two tests. He was fastest in the first pass and headed Kris Meeke (Citroën C3) and Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta), who were tied in second 1.6sec behind. World champion Sébastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta) was quickest in the second test.
Afterwards drivers and cars were transported back to the rally base of León, 400km to the south-east, by air and road.
The rally continues on Friday with three more days of gruelling driving in the hot and dusty mountains of Guanajuato state before Sunday afternoon’s finish.