LEÓN (MÉXICO): Young Oliver Solberg is the joint leader of the FIA WRC2 Championship after the opening two rounds in Monte-Carlo and Sweden and, with the absence of his closest rival Yohan Rossel from the field for this weekend’s Rally Guanajuato México, the Swede has the perfect opportunity to extend that advantage.
The first gravel round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship has attracted 10 entrants in WRC2 but Solberg will not find it easy against formidable opposition. This weekend marks the first time the famous Mexican stages have hosted the WRC since the start of global lockdowns and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic forced rally officials to shorten the 2020 edition to enable European competitors to return home following air space closures and travel restrictions.
Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson guided their Škoda Fabia RS to an impressive win at Rally Sweden to amass 28 points and that enabled the 21-year-old to draw level with Rossel in the points’ standings after the Frenchman’s PH Sport team had lodged a protest against Nikolay Gryazin in relation to corner cutting on a stage in Monte-Carlo. That was later upheld by rally officials and the resultant five-second time penalty handed Rossel’s the win at round one. Gryazin had finished the stages 4.5 seconds ahead and missed out on the win by just half a second.
Great Britain’s Gus Greensmith returns to the WRC for the first time this year with Jonas Andersson reading his pace notes in a Toksport-prepared Škoda Fabia RS. The former M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver has taken a step backwards to guarantee WRC action and returns to the WRC2 series. His first competitive run in the car was a snowy and slippery affair at Portugal’s Rali Vieita do Minho where he finished second overall.
“The rally in Portugal was not as similar conditions as we’d hoped,” said Greensmith. “I spent the morning being a snow plough but, in the afternoon, it was just wet. Anyway, we got to do some running and learning and the car is feeling good. We’ve got two more days of testing in México and then we’ll be ready to start the rally.”
Likewise, Adrien Fourmaux was an official M-Sport Ford driver in 2022 with a Ford Puma Rally 1 and the Frenchman, who is now 10th in the WRC2 Drivers’ Championship, teams up with Alexandre Coria to represent the team in WRC2 with the latest Ford Fiesta.
“This will be my second time in México,” said Fourmaux. “Last year, I competed in the Rally of Nations and finished second, so I am happy to be back in a rally car. After our Monte-Carlo result (fifth), our expectation is to fight for the best result as possible as we need the points for the championship. We know it’s always a tough rally in México because it is really rough for the cars and is a big challenge for everybody. I am really pleased to be driving the Fiesta Rally2 again and can’t wait to get back on the gravel stages.”
Gryazin holds third in the WRC2 Drivers’ Championship and drives the first of two Toksport World Rally Team 2 Škoda Fabia Evos, with the other in the hands of the defending WRC2 champion Emil Lindholm.
Three-time FIA European Rally Champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz (2015-2017) makes his first appearance of the season, after confirming he will take part in a seven-round WRC2 programme with a Škoda Fabia Evo. He missed out on the WRC2 title last year after crashing out of Forum8 Rally Japan after being involved in a three-way battle with Lindholm and Andreas Mikkelsen.
“My rally dreams are coming true again and I am happy about it,” said Kajetanowicz. “I can compete again against the best drivers in the world.”
Martin Prokop lists México as one of his favourite events and the Czech driver swaps the Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country, in which he finished a sensational second overall at the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, for a privately-run Ford Fiesta.
Pole Daniel Chwist, Peru’s Eduardo Castro and Chilean driver Jorge Martinez round off the WRC2 contingent in their Škodas.
Dominguez is sole entrant in WRC3
Diego Dominguez is the sole entrant in the FIA WRC3 Championship. He teams up with Spaniard Rogelio Peñate in a Ford Fiesta Rally3.
The Paraguayan holds fourth in the points’ standings and has the perfect opportunity to move to the top of the rankings in the absence of the series-leading Finn Roope Korhonen, Ireland’s Will Creighton and Frenchman Laurent Pellier. They filled the podium places in Sweden.2023 FIA WRC2 Championship – positions after round 2:1. Yohan Rossel (FRA)
28pts1. Oliver Solberg (SWE) 28pts3. Nikolay Gryazin (ANA) 20pts4. Ole Christien Veiby (NOR) 19pts5. Marco Bulacia (BOL) 16pts6. Pepe López (ESP) 15pts6. Sami Pajari (FIN) 15pts8. Erik Cais (CZE) 12pts8. Georg Linnamäe (EST) 12pts10. Adrien Fourmaux (FRA) 10pts11. Chris Ingram (GBR) 8pts11. Teemu Suninen (FIN) 8pts11. Emil Lindholm (FIN) 8pts14. Grégoire Munster (LUX) 6pts, etc
2023 FIA WRC3 Championship – positions after round 2:1. Roope Korhonen (FIN) 25pts2. Will Creighton (IRL)
18pts3. Laurent Pellier (FRA) 15pts4. Diego Dominguez (PRY) 12pts5. Tom Rensonnet (BEL) 10pts6. Jesse Kallio (FIN) 8pts7. Hamza Anawr (KEN) 6pts8. Toni Herranen (FIN) 4pts9. Filip Kohn (CZE) 2pts