How Rally of Nations kept México’s WRC dream alive

After the success of last week's event, organizers are optimistic about a future world championship return

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Last week’s third-running of México’s Rally of Nations was, once again, a significant success – this time with victory for a home team.

While the Rally1 cars of the World Rally Championship may have been missing, the event brought all of the challenge, atmosphere and entertainment that you’d expect from a WRC event.

And to top it all off there was that local victory, with Alejandro Mauro and Gustavo Uriosteguei giving México the honor of being the fastest nation in the rally’s unique format, after taking victory in the teams’ classification for México TV4.

From Rally of Nations Guanajuato director Gilles Spitalier’s point of view, the event ticked off its key aim.

“We achieved some things that were good,” he told DirtFish after the event. “We had to keep the space for an eventual WRC [comeback] in Guanajuato, so we had to do something to keep everybody on their toes and keep in mind that we do want to come back to WRC.

“The event format can get better, but the fact that we do [the classification] by teams, teaming youngsters and a master, I think it’s a very good option to bring all the youngsters up to a better level. I’m very happy to see that the level of the Méxican drivers has gone up a lot.

“[There are] many things to reconsider, but all in all, I think it was a nice event.”

The Rally of Nations has certainly proved popular with Méxican and international drivers alike, but the event’s future direction will very much be determined by whether or not the WRC will return to Guanajuato in the near future. That poses some key challenges for Spitalier.

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Rally of Nations provided all the vibrant Méxican flavor we've come to expect from Rally México's time in the WRC

Spitalier confirmed: “You need to have a big organization to keep that organization. And when you don’t have the sponsors and everything you have in the WRC, it can get complicated.

“So we need to be very clear of what we want to do, what do we need to achieve and how to do it for the future. So this means that we need to check with the [WRC] promoter what needs to be done to come back to the WRC. If we can manage to stay alive, that would be great.

“But if we’re not coming back to the WRC, we need to reassess what to do and what we want to do for the future. Of course, we all want to do the WRC, but if that is not an option, what’s the new path?”

The León-based rally is one of several vying for a place on next year’s WRC calendar, with Ireland and an event in the Middle-East also among on the list of likely candidates. But one thing that remains in México’s favor is the support it receives from the local government. Spitalier is confident that this year’s Rally of Nations has delivered for Guanajuato, and that the support will continue despite upcoming local elections.

“I think [the government] are happy and they were very happy that we did [the Rally of Nations this year],” said the event’s director. “The [images from the rally] and everything is, of course, nice for Guanajuato because it shows that the state keeps on working well and growing and so on. So normally, there shouldn’t be any problems [with the funding continuing].

“But, of course, there are elections and there will be a new government, a new governor, new mayors. And so we need to understand if they want to keep going or not. But I think they want to have the rally again.

“Now it’s more a matter of the [WRC] promoter, what they want, what they need. And if we can manage to have the money and the place, well, we will come back [to the WRC].”