Need some help organizing the opening ceremony for your Olympic Games?
Guanajuato has the answer.
The World Rally Championship’s acknowledged standard-bearer for opening ceremonies delivered once again on Friday night as Rally of Nations Guanajuato got underway in typically spectacular fashion.
Team UK’s Tom Williams had the honor of leading the field across the start ramp ahead of thousands of fans packed into the narrow Guanajuato city streets.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Williams. “I know we say it every year, but the atmosphere here really is the best in the world – this event has to be back in the world championship. This place and these roads… they’re just fantastic.”
And that atmosphere just continued to build, with local heroes and Team México superstars Benito Guerra and Francisco Name taking the crowd to the brink of delirium.
Rally of Nations Guanajuato manager Gilles Spitalier was delighted with another stellar performance from his team.
“The opening ceremony is a really big part of this event,” he said. “We have to thank the people of Guanajuato for giving us their streets to paint this amazing picture. We all know this is the most colorful city in the world, but for one night every year, we get the chance to add even more passion and even more color.
“Honestly, it’s humbling to come here and to feel the emotion from the people. Rallying is in all of our hearts and we put all of our hearts into this rally.”
Over the ramp and into the stage, the action was captured and beamed around the world with some of the most breathtaking overhead pictures ever captured on a city stage.
After two runs around the 0.68-mile Street Stage GTO, Team Norway’s Mads Østberg set the pace with fastest time on both, just ahead of Guerra.
But in the all-important Rally of Nations Guanajuato standings, Gustavo Uriostegui and his humble Renault Clio have given Team México 4 an early lead. With car performance weighting taken into account, Uriostegui won both passes of Street Stage GTO to give himself and team-mate Francisco Name – driving a Subaru WRX – an early lead.
Østberg in his Škoda Fabia still managed to combine with Eyvind Brynildsen’s Mitsubishi Lancer to put Team Norway second, a mere 6.5 points off the top spot. A stage win grants 45 points.
Italy completes the podium places after Friday night as, like Uriostegui, Andrea Mabellini was able to take advantage of the Rally5-spec Renault Clio’s nimbleness to put big points on the board in the tight confines of the Guanajuato city streets.
The big shock of the night? Finland, rallying’s global powerhouse, is yet to register a point on the board.
The cobbled street stage is just the beginning of the Rally of Nations Guanajuato action.
Between Friday night and Sunday afternoon sit 14 of the world’s finest gravel stages with 23 national teams from around the world ready to set about them from 0630 Saturday April 2. Day two of the event includes nine stages and 87.82 miles of competition. The 14-mile run through Guanajuatito is first up at 0738, with Østberg leading the crews in.