RALLYING’S rising star Elfyn Evans will be relying on his co-driver even more than usual when he contests this weekend’s Rally Mexico.
It’s uncharted territory for the young Welshman, who starts his third new WRC event in a row.
But his mapman, Barrowford’s Daniel Barritt, is something of an old hand at South American motorsport.
This will be his fifth outing in Mexico, having most recently navigated Toshi Arai to second place in the Production WRC class in 2010.
And his knowledge will prove a huge benefit to Evans as he progresses alongside his experienced M-Sport team mates.
“This event offers another new experience. I’m not sure of exactly what to expect, but I have a good idea from the test,” said Evans.
“It’s important to drive a very smooth line and carry good speed into the corners as the lack of power makes it difficult to recover any time loss.
“For us, we just plan to drive as smoothly and as cleanly as possible – to gain the experience and gradually improve our pace throughout the weekend.
“I’ll also be tackling some of the longest gravel stages of my career. I’ve certainly never had to contend with so many long stages in a single event, but I am looking forward to the challenge.
“We’ve done a lot of preparation on the physical side, so hopefully that will prove effective and we can concentrate on looking after the car and setting some good splits.
“We’ll also witness some more consistent grip levels to those we have had to contend with so far this season.
“Our progress rate will be more constant, and it will be easier to build the pace stage by stage without having to adapt to the changing conditions.”
The Mexican fixture is renowned as one of the most vibrant events of the year, but the colourful stages – and spectators – mask a daunting challenge.
With the route climbing over 2,500 metres through the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains, oxygen-starved air can see performance fall by as much as 30 per cent – putting additional pressure on the crews with little room for error.
Given the reduced power, even the smallest of mistakes can be dramatically unforgiving and the crews will need to have their wits about them as they tackle a mix of fast flowing roads interspersed with more technical, twisting sections. The event also plays host to some of the longest stages of the year.
A real test of endurance, crews will encounter a mammoth stage on each full day of competition – two passes of the sweetly named El Chocolate (44.03 kilometres) on Friday, 53.69 kilometres of Otates on Saturday and the longest test of the rally, Guanajuatito, at 55.92 kilometres, on Sunday’s final leg.