Rally México will be fighting for its World Rally Championship future when it runs this week.
Now in its 20th year, the Leon-based event is under increased pressure from incoming rallies around the world – rarely has there been such a premium on a calendar slot for the world championship.
Rally México manager Gilles Spitalier has been entirely forthright in his appraisal of the situation with those involved in round three.
“We are back,” Spitalier told DirtFish. “That’s nice. But we have a one-year contract. That’s the reality.
“This is a business for many people and many countries want to be in. We know we have to fight to keep our place – I am very clear on this with the people in the event and with the government and with everybody involved.
“We have to push, the attitude is not: ‘Ah, we’re back and everything is fine.’ We must push.”
While Spitalier would undoubtedly prefer a long-term contract, he says the fight for places on the calendar will only serve to drive rallies on to become better and better versions of themselves.
“Of course,” he said, “this pushes us to do the best event we can. Every year we will be in the fight to stay in the calendar. The competition is harder and harder. We will do our best and we have to hope México has found its niche and we will be back in 2024.
“We are preparing and doing everything like we’re going to be there, so we better be there.”
Missing since 2020 for reasons related to the global pandemic, Rally México has long been one of the season’s highlights for drivers. Spitalier feels that’s linked to the timing of the North American event.
He added: “It has its place right after the winter events, when you come out of the snow and the cold into the sunshine, the heat and the color of this place. We worked to give Rally México its own identity – you know I even planted some cacti to make sure we had the right angle for the photographers. I wanted that feeling of Rally México to always be there.”
Undoubtedly the demand locally for Rally México is as big as ever.
“We have sold out in many of the tickets,” said Spitalier. “There’s no doubt, people have been waiting for this moment.
“Last year, we made the Rally of Nations and I have to thank the government for backing us in this. We wanted so badly to come back [to WRC]. I think our partners and [WRC Promoter] could see how much we wanted this.
“Now we have to work to keep it.”