WRC teams calm over COVID-19 as Rally México begins

Teams have arrived without issue in Mexico


World Rally Championship factory teams remain relaxed about the threat of coronavirus ahead of this week’s Rally México.

The service park, based as usual in León, is being built through Monday with the recce starting on Tuesday morning.

DirtFish has spoken to senior members of Toyota Gazoo Racing, M-Sport Ford WRT and Hyundai Motorsport in the days leading up to round three and there’s universal calm ahead of the season’s first gravel rally.

Toyota’s sporting director Kaj Lindström said the WRC’s move west to the Americas was favourable, with the majority of cases in the Far East and Europe; the WRC has moved out of Europe until the Rally Portugal towards the end of May. Following this week’s Mexican outing, the series heads south to Argentina for round four.

Lindström told DirtFish.com: “We have travelled normally to Mexico, following the advice from the team doctor. There are not many cases, very few cases in Mexico and the same with Argentina. We’re quite fortunate that the next two rounds for us are in areas quite free from the virus. It might have been different if we were coming to Europe for the next round.”

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener said his team’s plans progressed exactly as the Cumbrian squad expected.

“We’re being sensible,” he said. “We’re focusing, as you’d expect, on hygiene levels, but at the end of the day we’re not going somewhere that requires any degree of quarantine. There’s no advice against travelling to Mexico and no need for any self-isolation when we go home from here.

“The last time I looked, the world was still turning…”

Hyundai’s Italian team principal Andrea Adamo lives in Germany, close to the Alzenau base for the squad. He’s bemused by current events, saying: “The panic is the worst thing I am seeing spreading around at this moment, this is worse than the virus.

“For us there is no limitation for us to travel. As long as the country we are visiting does not limit the access to our people. The problem is if they are scared of the people travelling from abroad and they start to stop Italians or others.

“They look at the passport and see I am Italian, but the last time I was in Italy was the weekend after Monte Carlo and if I should have been affected [by the virus] I would have been over it already. They look at the passport and they stop you. Even if I bring my document to say I am living in Germany and a German resident, I don’t know if people care about that at all.”

Team members flying out of Europe to Mexico through America have reported no changes to security or health checks, with the only difference being body temperatures taken on internal flights from Mexico City to Guanajuato.

Guanajuato state’s department of health has advised visitors to avoid “normal forms of greeting in Mexico, such as shaking hands and kissing cheeks”.