Pre-event Press Conference
Elfyn Evans (GBR), Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
Esapekka Lappi (FIN), M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Dani Sordo (SPA), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
Elfyn, joint championship leader with Thierry Neuville as we head into Rally México.
From what you experienced during Shakedown this morning, how difficult do you feel
it will be to get a good result?
It has been a good start to the year. Obviously we are happy to be in this position rather than
where I normally am at this point in the season. It might not be the ideal road position for me
here, but I still wouldn’t change it.
From what you have seen on the recce for day one, how much do you think you are
going to be hampered?
I really don’t know, to be honest. The three stages have a slightly different surface. But I
really don’t know what the effect is going to be. Of course, there will be a cleaning effect. We
know this when we drive a gravel rally. We have to see what the times say.
Generally, how was the feeling of the Toyota Yaris at altitude? I believe you have been
doing a great deal to prepare yourself physically for the altitude?
I think, to be honest, the altitude side is not so easy to adapt to. From what I am told anyway,
you need weeks at altitude to fully acclimatize so you can only take an edge off, really. It’s
more just to get used to the heat. We don’t get so much in Wales during December, January
and February, so I guess we try and get used to the heat and try and adapt as best as
You are the championship leader in a joint points’ situation. This is the best position
you have been in at this point of a season. Why do you think the change has come
about in terms of your driving and confidence level?
I think we had a really bad season in 2018. Since, and towards the end of that year, I started
to put in a few better performances to change the way I did things a little bit. It was starting to
take effect last year and it has been working for me so far this year. Perhaps, not to be quite
as wild and concentrate more on the technique rather than keeping the right foot down
Esappeka, this is your third event in the car after Monte and Sweden. Do you feel now
that you are at one with the Fiesta?
It has been good, to be honest. We had a good one-and-a-half day test and we managed to
try all the possible options which were available, including geometries, dampers, diffs as well,
so I think the car is as good as it can be.
It was a difficult event for you last year, and you don’t have a lot of experience of this
round in comparison to the two guys sitting next to you, but what do you think you
can achieve here?
I don’t know. There are always these questions where we should know where we will be at
the finish. So, we will finish fourth! (joking). I would be quite satisfied after a hard weekend to
be in fourth place, to be honest. This weekend always brings a lot of drama. It is very
demanding for the cars and the crews and there is a high puncture risk. I hope we can do
well and without any drama.
Lots of drivers do things to prepare ahead of the event. I guess you all do training to
some degree. You have been doing some training, which is maybe a little bit different.
We have a lot of gravel stages and super special stages here – nine of them to be
exact. What training have you been doing for the super specials?
Ah, you meant that training….I was in sauna last week. It is good training for the heat. For
the super special training, we were driving on a go-kart track with the rally car. We are not
the only team to do this, to be honest. It’s funny. The track is clearly very narrow for the rally
cars, but I think it was really good practice. They have never been my strongest stages.
Okay, I won the first one here last year but, normally, they are not my stages.
How do you not lose time on the short super special stages?
That is what I tried to find out…because I am always losing time. So you need to ask these
guys because they are always better than me…
Let’s ask Dani Sordo about that, because you have lots of experience here over the
years. How do you reduce time loss on such short stages?
I don’t know. I am not the specialist also at this kind of stages, especially the first stage today
is quite a bad one in the tunnels. For the start of the rally, and a long rally like this, it is
difficult to have these stages. The stages on the circuit are much more fun but the first stage
of the rally is not my preference. I will try not to lose time because the rally is really long
Dani, welcome back to the championship! This might be your first competitive outing
in the WRC this season but you were in action Monte Carlo as a stand in for Thierry’s
safety crew – a role you’d do again?
I think Thierry won because he is fast. Maybe we helped him a little bit. Honestly, if I can do
again, it was a different experience. Not because you had to wake up early, but it was difficult
to put in all the ice and things. It is difficult to do well. I’ve always known it is difficult (job) but
to put the pressure on, it is difficult.
A great road position for you here, can we see you take advantage of that?
It looks like I have the best road position. Now I will try to do the best, especially on the first
rally on the first day. I start eight or nine, the last of the World Rally Cars. It will be good for
me and I will try to take advantage of this.
We have seen you graduate over the years from the FIA Junior Championship to a
tarmac specialist and then you were great on gravel. Now that you have a partial
season, you seem to produce the best results ever. How does that work? Are you
maturing like a fine wine?
You forget I was here 15 years before…I was quite happy with the car. These cars are very
nice to drive and faster. They give you a lot of confidence. Our new car is also so good. I am
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
Nicolay Gryazin (RUS), Hyundai Motorsport N
Pontus Tidemand (SWE), Toksport WRT
Nicolay, your first ever Rally México, what have you thought of the experience so far?
It is my first time here. It is a really nice country and so far away from Europe. It will be a nice
weekend. I hope to have fun and enjoy the race and gain a lot of experience because there
are a lot of different roads. Altitude is quite high so we need to keep the line and keep the
speed for the corners. Not easy, but I think we will enjoy it and try to finish.
How has the car handled across the Shakedown stage? Are you feeling the effect of
The first feeling was braking into the corner and after thinking I can go much faster because
it is not the same like low altitude rallies. It was good at Shakedown. It was quite a tricky one.
As part of the Hyundai team, I believe Dani Sordo has been helping you out a little and
was in the car with you recently. Did he give you good advice?
Yes, we did one test day with him and he gave me some advices and also I have a good
contact now if I have something to ask. That was really nice. We are now trying to feel our
place, like in a home team and we will see how it goes in the future.
Pontus, Rally México offers up some great memories for you because on each
occasion you’ve been here, you’ve won the FIA WRC 2 category! The aim remains the
same this time around?
For sure, I will try to win. I think this rally has suited me well and also the car. I have a very
good feeling. I will try. Like always, it will be very hot and it is a very long rally, especially if
it’s midway on the Saturday and you think Sunday will just be easy. Then you have the first
long stage on Sunday and that will be very demanding and one of the hardest stages on the
rally. It will be interesting, I think.
This rally offers such a mixture with the gravel stages and the super special stages as
well. On the shorter ones you can lose a lot more time than you expect?
It’s true. My opinion, I like the super special stages. This is one of the things I like on this
rally. For me, it’s just nice.
What conditions were the stages in on the recce?
Very good, I would say. In times before, in 2017 and 2018, they are better than before. They
are very well prepared so I am sure tyre choice will be a bit demanding and we will try to find
the right choice and a tyre to survive. It’s a very tricky rally.
Talk to us about the future? Do you have a clearer idea of the future yet?
No. This rally and then we will see. I hope I can come to Portugal. It’s good to be here. I hope
to be on some more rounds.
FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP
Benito Guerra (MEX)
Marco Bulacia Wilkinson (BOL)
Benito, you are another driver who has achieved success with FIA WRC 2 here in
México. You are in the FIA WRC 3 category this time around. It must bring back
special memories to be here?
Yes, it is amazing to be back at my home event Rally Guanajuato, and I am really happy to
have a lot of contenders this year. You know, sometimes in México we are missing some of
the top drivers in WRC 2 and WRC 3. This year, there are a lot of them here, so it will be a
very nice weekend and a very competitive weekend. I am happy to be back. We have the
Škoda we used last year. We won here in 2019. This time, I think it is going to be a little bit
more difficult. But we are going to try…
You also had a fantastic battle with the man next to you (Marco Bulacia) last year. Is
that battle going to resume again?
I hope so. Last year the battle with Marquito (Marco) was amazing. We were fighting every
single stage. I hope we have the same kind of battle this weekend and I will try and beat him.
Every single year, you learn something new. The stages are quite similar to last year, but the
heat in the car and the atmosphere in the rally always makes it so different. Every single year
is a different challenge and a different kind of drivers. We have been here in Production, in
WRC and now in WRC 3 – but it was WRC 2 last year- and every single year we have a
different challenge to beat the different drivers. It is going to be tough but I say welcome to all
of my fellows to México and I hope you enjoy our rally.
What programme do you have lined up for this year?
Last year was fantastic and we finished very well in the WRC 2 Championship. This year, we
are going to try again in WRC 3. I don’t know what is going on with this Coronavirus for the
next events. I want to be in Argentina but I don’t know what is going on. We will see what we
have in the news after Rally México.
Last year it was the Guerra-Bulacia battle, which was incredible to watch. How
confident are you that you can beat the man next to you this year?
More than last year, because this is my third time here. I think this is the rally where I have
the most experience, so we will try to beat him and also the other drivers. We have 10 WRC
3 drivers and it will be very hard. The rally is also very similar to last year. We are confident.
You have to battle against the altitude and the loss of power. How do you deal with
that? Does your driving style change to adapt to it?
It’s just the car. I am very used to the altitude. In the other part of Bolivia where we race, it is
4,000 metres sometimes. But the car, for sure, gets very slow and, as Nicolay said, it is very
slow to arrive at the corners. This is the only change.
What is the plan for you this year and what is the goal?
For sure, this year we will want to improve. My next event will be Argentina – but we don’t
know. Portugal and Sardinia – we don’t know. We want to race because Argentina is the
closest rally to my home and there are a lot of Bolivian spectators.
Guest driver (non-priority)
Ken Block (USA)
Ken Block, welcome back to Rally México. The Cossie World Tour continues in 2020
after its debut season last year. A fanatic array of events are lined up. What made you
This event not only delivers great roads but one of the best atmospheres that I have ever
seen in a rally. I really enjoy everything from the night stages tonight in Guanajuato to the
stages out in the Wild West. They can get quite rough. It is one of the craziest atmospheres
of any rally in the world and that is why I am back.
You have a huge amount of Mexican fans. Is it crazy coming here? Are you mobbed?
The Mexican fans are quite amazing. In this part of the world, rally is so popular and it is very
cool to see. In America we don’t have a tenth of the fans we have here in Guanajuato. It’s
very cool to come back here and to see how the town has grown and progressed since I
started coming here in 2007. I am very happy to be back and it’s great to bring the Cossie
here. But it’s also disappointing because we didn’t know how this altitude would affect the
car. This is a nineties engine and it’s definitely not working that great at this altitude. It is what
it is and I will enjoy myself no matter what. It’s great to be on the stages with all these very
talented drivers and great to see our friends and industry people and all the WRC folks. My
team and I are delighted to be here.
The Escort Cosworth is a 90s icon. Where did the whole idea come from?
I am just a rally tourist nowadays. I still love to be out on the stages but racing at the top level
is just not realistic any more. I have a family at home that requires a lot more time, so I am
trying to get out and enjoy it because I love being on the stages. If I can do seven or eight
events around the world on some of the best rallies in the world from here to New Zealand.
That is just very cool. I consider myself one of the luckiest race car drivers in the world. I will
keep doing it as long as I can
You will also be competing in New Zealand later on this year, another classic FIA WRC
event but this time in different machinery, in an R5 car, against these guys?
I want to go back and enjoy those roads. This time I will take it a little bit more serious that I
would in Barbados and those type of rallies. But, for me, it’s that I want to experience that top
level car again on some of the best roads on the planet. I am really looking forward to that.