Heading To Mexico – World Rally Championship

Sitting at gate 27 in the San Diego International Airport, I will soon board a flight to Dallas/Fort Worth where I’ll connect with a small jet aircraft and head to Guanajuato/Leon airport in the Guanajuato state of Mexico. Yes. I’m flying and Doc, my fabled bike sits home alone.

With more time, I’d make the trip on two-wheels. But this trip to Mexico is for a special reason. My friend Robb Rill is racing in the World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Guanajuato Mexico – a three day rally made up of multiple stages that runs through the historic city of Guanajuato and through both the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains including a number high-altitude tests with a mixture of mountain peaks and flat open valleys. The altitude has its downside, however, as the engines struggle to breathe in the thin air and suffer a drop in power of approximately 20 per cent. The road surface is dry and sandy, but with rocks getting pulled onto the road the race can be very dangerous.

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Darkcyd Racing’s 2005 Subaru WRX STi – driven by Robb Rill, co-driver Ben Slocum.

Robb and co-driver Ben Slocum are driving Darkcyd Racing’s 2005 Subaru WRX STi. I’ve been asked to join the 5-person crew to support as needed, serve as the team photographer, translator and blogger. For the last several month’s Robb and his team have been coordinating and managing the painstaking details of not only preparing a race car for a Rally, but dealing with the logistics necessary to transport a vehicle to a foreign country. Co-driver Ben Slocum has consolidated the details of this event into a 20-page ‘movement’ plan.

While I have been a fan of motorsports my entire life, I’ve never been to a true European-style road rally race. I’ve always dreamed of one day perhaps racing in the infamous Dakar, but like most Americans, my understanding of the actual rally format, rules and scoring is very basic. Helping Robb by participating on his crew in Mexico will change that.

For those of you interested, Rally Racing involves using street-legal cars on both normal streets and roads in towns, cities and country as well as off-road on gravel, mud, dirt and such. So there is no set track, instead, there is a course. The course may change from year-to-year, and it is usually done in stages. Often these stages take place over several days. The Mexico WRC rally takes place in 13 stages over 3 days. All but one of the stages are on dirt and gravel roads. Of course, during the actual stages, the roads are closed to the public.

These stage rally races are huge in Europe, perhaps in teh top 2 sports. In the USA, there are rally circuits, but they don’t get much visiblity beyond the local communities where they are staged, or in the close-knit group of fans, racers and crew. The Mexico Rally will be broadcast live throughout Europe. In the USA it will be broadcast slightly delayed on the HD Theater channel, so if you’re interested in seeing the action, tune in.

I will bring more information on the Rally, the rules and stages and how our team, Darkcyd Racing is faring over the next week. There are two days of preparation and pre-running and more logistics that I’m just beginning to understand. Many Rallys feature different classes of vehicles, and sometimes motorcycles—think Baja 1,000 and Dakar.

More to follow.

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