Barrowford’s Daniel Barritt is targeting a return to form on the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship this weekend.
The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team take to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC at the Rally Mexico, with co-driver Barritt and Elfyn Evans in with a chance of challenging for the podium.
Barritt and Evans, 10th in the Championship, will be looking to rejuvenate their season.
Having twice finished the Rally Mexico just shy of the podium, the Brits will be hoping to challenge for a top-three result once again.
Benefitting from a more advantageous road position, the pairing will have a good chance of making their mark.
But their later running order doesn’t come without its challenges, with a constant threat of rally-ending rocks being pulled onto the racing line.
The team conducted their pre-event test in Spain, only for it to be cut short by the wintry weather that has engulfed much of Europe.
The Beast from the East may have cut the test from five days to three, but the Cumbrian squad remain well-prepared thanks to Ford’s invaluable technical support.
Making use of the Blue Oval’s state-of-the-art Climatic Chamber in Dunton, the team are able to replicate the altitude and expected temperatures which – combined with the data from the test – allows the engineers to configure the best maps and set-up for the challenges ahead.
Rally Mexico is one of the most colourful and exciting events of the year,and one of the most challenging, with sweltering heat and high altitude taking its toll.
The 30°C heat can be closer to 50°C in the cockpit. The crews must be in peak physical condition and every technical component must be able to withstand the punishing temperatures.
If that weren’t enough, the stages climb more than 2,700 meters above sea level where the oxygen-starved air can see engine performance reduced by as much as 20%.
The drivers must adjust their driving to contend with the reduced power, and the engineers must do their research to ensure maximum performance throughout the weekend.
The gravel stages can also be rough going, especially over the second pass, and the crews must maintain their concentration levels to avoid the pitfalls that make this event a rally of attrition.