P-WRC: Production champions square up in Mexico

A clash of the titans

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By www.wrc.com

28 February 2010 - 19:44
P-WRC: Production champions square (...)

The forthcoming Rally Mexico will host a clash of the titans in the Production Car World Rally Championship category, with former double champion Toshi Arai taking on defending title holder Armindo Araujo for the first time this season.

Araujo kicked off the defence of his 2009 FIA title earlier this month, when a podium in Rally Sweden put him third in the 2010 standings on 15 points. Arai, however, didn’t nominate the snow and ice round as part of his own six-rally programme, electing instead to get his season underway on the high altitude gravel stages in the Mexican State of Guanajuato.

With Araujo nominating Mexico as well, the rally is the first opportunity for the pair to meet head to head this year. And with only five of this season’s 16 P-WRC entrants tackling the American event, all eyes will be on the clash of the title heavyweights.

Mexico will be brand new challenge for Araujo but his recent form on loose surfaces is good. The Portuguese driver won the Group N class on Rally GB 2009 on his first outing in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, but is likely to switch back to his tried and tested Evo IX for Mexico.

Arai, meanwhile, has tackled Mexico three times before - winning the Production category in 2006 and coming second in 2004 and 2007.

In Mexico, and until Subaru’s latest Spec ’C’ Impreza is ready, Arai will drive the same 2009 specification Impreza he used last season. However the Japanese driver is hoping a series of weight saving measures will give him an edge over Araujo. Arai’s Impreza will run minimal under body protection in Mexico, while inside the car a switch of co-driver from Glenn Macneall to the diminutive Daniel Barritt has saved more than 20kgs.

Also in action in Mexico are Production regulars Gianluca Linari (Impreza), Giorgio Bacco (Lancer Evo IX) and Miguel Baldoni (Lancer Evo IX). Hungarian Subaru driver Gabor Meyer had planned to contest the rally but his Gaboko entry now looks likely to be taken by another driver.

Mexicans Benito Guerra and Rodrigo Salgado are the two nationally nominated wildcard entries in Mexico. Both will drive Mitsubishi Lancers, with Guerra in an Evo X and Salgado in an Evo IX.

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