The first gravel event of the 2017 season will see the new generation WRC cars face their most demanding challenge yet. The season’s highest point of 2,737 metres will be reached here, and with high altitude comes plenty of thin air. Generally, this will cause engines to struggle, but acceleration speeds may also affected.
Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville are strong contenders for this event, with Latvala winning the 2016 outing in Mexico, bringing Sebastien Ogier’s run of three consecutive victories to a end. Combined with a surprise victory in Rally Sweden following Toyota’s 17-year absence from the championship, Latvala’s performances are ones that put him in the running for further victories this season.
Neuville’s start to the 2017 season has been a tough one, with performances early on in both events giving the Belgian a healthy lead over other drivers; however, a damaged suspension in Monte-Carlo and impaired steering on a Super Special Stage in Sweden caused him to drop out of the race for top spot. If Neuville can guide his i20 Coupe WRC safely through all 19 stages while applying pressure on the other drivers, he has a strong chance of at least snatching a podium finish this time out.
Ogier’s three consecutive victories from 2013-2015 were brought to an end in 2016 when Latvala took the overall win by just over a minute, but a driver with four consecutive years in 1st or 2nd place has every chance of driving to victory at this event.