Rally of Nations key to México’s WRC return

Event manager Gilles Spitalier says March's Rally of Nations was the catalyst the country needed for 2023 return

Thierry Neuville

Rally México manager Gilles Spitalier has spoken of his relief and delight at seeing the North American event back on the World Rally Championship calendar for next season.

The León-based event hasn’t run in the WRC since 2020 – when Guanajuato was the last place the WRC was seen before a pandemic-enforced six-month pause. México was scheduled for a return to the calendar this season, only for a last-minute change of mind due to logistical concerns after a COVID spike at the end of 2021.

In place of its WRC round, Spitalier and rally director Patrick Suberville decided to run Rally of Nations, with stars like Harri Rovanperä, Mads Østberg, Adrien Fourmaux and Matthew Wilson joining the event.

It was that decision to bridge the WRC gap that has returned México on to the schedule for 2023.

Spitalier told DirtFish: “Without the help from the state of Guanajuato to run Rally of Nations, it would have been very, very complicated to come back to the world championship. Running that event this season gave us the chance to keep all of the team together and working at a high level.

“The Rally of Nations was a WRC round in miniature. To be back for next season is amazing and quite emotional for all of the team involved. We feel we belong in the WRC and no season is really complete without Guanajuato city on a Thursday night and the amazing roads we have surrounding the service park in León.”

Ott Tanak

The WRC will now get its first view of Rally México’s purpose-built service park piazza, complete with undercover facilities for all the teams as well as a rally village complete with restaurants, bars and office space.

Spitalier explained: “When the planning authorities was working on this area of León, they came and asked me what I thought of their ideas. It was not so good for the rally, the access would not be so nice. I told them: ‘If you do this, the rally cannot come.’

“They came back to me and asked me what we needed. I told them and this incredible service park is the result. We are very proud of it and very much looking forward to showing it to everybody in the WRC.”

Rally México returns to the WRC from March 16-19.