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Old 03-16-2013, 12:51 AM   #1
nismogti-r
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Default WRC Mexico 2013 Trip w/Pictures

A little background info
So I got married this summer and since we paid for the wedding out of pocket, we couldn't afford to go on honeymoon right away but in Fall we ended up planing the perfect trip. We would fly to Puerto Vallarta on Wed. March 6th, jump into a rental car... drive 6 1/2 hours (according to google) to Leon, spend 4 days at the Rally, drive back on Sunday the 10th and spend 3 days in Puerto Vallarta relaxing before flying back home.

Wednesday, March 6th

So we grab our flight from Montreal via Toronto to Puerto Vallarta at 8am and landed at 3pm. Now you might have heard of all the nasty things going on in Mexico since 2006 concerning the cartels and the drug trade with some dozens of thousands having been killed, the lawless driving style of the Mexicans as well as the horrid road conditions in that country so you can imagine the we were kinda anxious to get in the rental car ASAP to get to the Hotel in Silao, near Leon, especially since we would be driving quite a bit at night.

So we get of the flight and there it is... our chariot awaits... A 5 speed 1.2L 76hp Chevrolet Aveo...


Anyways, we jump in and hit the road at 4pm! The road along the coast starts off slow and is peppered with speed bumps. Thats the thing, in Mexico, there are very few transit police and normal cops have other priorities I imagine so they put speed bumps absolutely everywhere to force traffic to slow. After only a few KM, the speed limit rises but the road turns into a double lane (single lane in each direction) and gets twister which was a sign of things to come. The roads were quickly engorged with lorries and semi-trucks which obviously slows traffic to a crawl and with the roads being as twisty, there were few places to pass. Long story short, the first 150km took us 2 1/2 hours... Fortunately, the roads cleared up a few km before Las Varas and to my surprise the road to Compostela was one of the best parts of the trip, it was a perfect driving road hidden in plain sight! It made driving that piece of ***** Aveo a blast!
After Compostela, the carretera cuato (toll road) starts and I have to say... It might be expensive (costs about 60$ CDN each way) but, contrary to popular belief, it puts our Canadian roads to shame! Not only is the road itself a beautiful and smooth 4 lane highway but there is literally no police presence so with practically only commercial traffic (lorries and semis) and Audis going 200km/h, it was like driving on the Autobahn.
Finally, it was smooth sailing from now on... or so we thought...
The only real obstacle left was going through Guadalajara, a city of 5 million, which seemed simple enough but here we got accounted with Mexico's biggest road problem from a Canadians point of view, the F*ck*ng lack of indications... I'm a semi-professional rally co-pilote and twice Canadian production champion and I can't remember ever getting lost but when we got near Guadalajara, road indications became very sporadic and we ended up becoming totally lost and in the middle of a bad looking neighborhood. We did not have a GPS, only crappy road maps and to make things worst there are NO street signs anywhere in Mexico... So I turned my cellphone on and grabbed Bell's 8$/MB Mexico service (I had my phone unlocked and was planning on getting a local simcard first thing Thursday morning... in hindsight, we should have done this before leaving PV) to get its GPS and map working to get us back on the highway.
Thankfully, after this hick-up, things picked up and at a steady 130km/h in my little Aveo, we finally arrived at the airport hotel in Silao at 1am... after 9 hours of non-stop driving. I felt beat to ****! Did I mention the car was standard and my wife doesn't drive stick... So I did all the driving on this trip.
By the way, the rally HQ might be in Leon but the rally is spread out across three cities with Silao being in the middle and the one nearest the mountain stages and the third one, Guanajuato, being a UNESCO World Heritage site had the ceremonial start!
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:52 AM   #2
nismogti-r
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Thursday, March 7th

So we got a very abrupt wake up on Thursday morning... Our curious next door neighbor tried to open the separating door between our rooms to sneak a peek but my wifes screaming put him back at his place I think! After examination, we realised that our neighbor could lock the door but we couldn't, all we had was a security chain... F*ck me... Throughout our trip, at no time did we feel threatened or afraid for our security while in Mexico, except for, of all places, in our hotel room... thanks to that nosy neighbor...

Anyways, we were planning on sleeping in a bit to recoup from our long day on Wednesday but thanks to that sudden wake-up, that plan got flushed. So we got up and drove back to Leon to first, get our local simcard and have my phone activated and second, go to the poliforum to pick up our rally and parking passes and check out the Rally HQ and service area before driving to Guanajuato for the Ceremonial start.
When we got to Leon, we were acquainted to another frustrating aspect of driving in Mexico: Everything is directly on the side of the highways/boulevards and all of these have medians which means if you’re on the eastbound lane and the mall with the Telcel outlet you’re looking for is on the West bound side... you might have to drive (in the city) an other 3-4km before the next light where you'll have to do an illegal u-turn or (on the highway) an other 10-15km for an off-ramp to turn around. After a frustrating amount of driving in Leon to do something seemingly simple, we once again hit the road for Guanajuato.



Now I had heard somewhere that the downtown area would be closed off by police around 2pm so they could setup the barriers for the first stage that runs through the heart of the city and we managed to get there at 1:45 (Fiew!) and found a Museum where there was “preferred parking” for the event (actually, it said to park there if you want to make long but interesting walk to the Start)...To get there though, we had to drive through the slums (really reassuring since we would have to walk back threw them twice, once at night) to get to this museum with a tiny parking and when I told the parking attendant I was there for the rally, he looked like he had no idea what I was talking about... Great!



So now we set-off on foot through the slums, where most roofs were either used as dumps or as homes to packs of dogs, not knowing the pretty and super-fast way to the start was by going around the other side of the Museum. So we managed to find the gorgeous historic center of town and started into the maze of centuries old streets to find the Rally Start. This sounds like it would be easy to find with the stage passing through the city with a bunch of streets blocked off but it wasn't since the start only covered about a block and the cars would immediately go into the tunnels that run under the city center only to emerge a few blocks further and 100ft lower then where the start was located. After finally finding it we set off to find a nice place to eat a late lunch, which was easy enough in this part of town which is peppered with nice squares.


By 5pm we were on the bleachers for the start... the atmosphere was amazing and the show started around 6pm with local musicians and traditional dances.
At 8pm, it was on! The cars would drive across a stage where a carrousel would turn the car around and direct it towards the off ramp and the time controls. The cars would start, do 15 feet, jump over an awkward bump, do a 180 degree turn and drive into the tunnels!





After the end of SS1, we walk back to the car by going up a HUGE hill... and at 2200m over sea level... the lack of oxygen made it feel like we had completed the Ironman challenge by the end! On the way back to the hotel, we still hadn't eaten supper so we stopped at an Applebee's of all places where everybody spoke perfect English! It turned out, the huge industrial complex behind it was the GM plant where they build the Yukon/Escalade.

Last edited by nismogti-r; 03-16-2013 at 01:03 AM.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:54 AM   #3
nismogti-r
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Friday, March 8th

For today, I had found a dirt road that seemed to lead to the a T onto the SS8 El Cubilete 2 stage right around a twisty part so we set-off on our mule (i.e. the Aveo) not knowing what that dirt road had in store. After crossing a nice rural community, the road severally deteriorated and became very steep. Numerous times we were put in a situation where, if we stopped on the hill, we would have to roll back down to try again or if we would be a few inches to either side, the car would get beached on its frame. Fortunately, we made it to the stage after about 4-5km of these conditions and we were welcomed by a literally, thanks to the elevation, breath taking view! While were parking the car, a Mexican asks us where were from after mentioning that we clearly didn't look like we were from around there. After acknowledging were from Canada, he answers that he has been back in Mexico for 4 months after having spent the last 4 years in Toronto! Lol Small world!

At this point I realized I had left my SLR camera at the hotel and my video camera had no batteries... All I had was my cell... **** my life! Well, me made due! Heres my face moments later:


We setup on the inside of a nice, long hairpin with a view on a lower hairpin and, before the cars would leave our sight, a right corner where every car went in sideways.




While we were waiting, a man in his fifties with his 29 year old son noticed us speaking French so he asks us in a very well-articulated English where we were from. After answering Montreal (were really from Ottawa but it's just easier to say were from Montreal) he says that’s where he learned to speak English and that he lived in Mtl for a few years while studying at McGill! We spent the rest of our stay on this stage with these guys as they seemed very knowledgeable and friendly. The view was epic! Helicopters following the cars were flying so low, they would be hovering hundreds of meters lower than our view point when the cars started up the mountain.



After the WRC cars went by, we went back to the car and drove down the mountain and back to the hotel before driving the 20 minutes that separated our hotel to the Autodroma where the Super Special was staged. The format was a gravel and asphalt circuit where two cars would run the stage at once with one starting from the inside lane and finishing on the outside. The stage would then be repeated by both cars, exchanging starting-finishing positions. The astmosphere here was nuts, particularly when one of the locals (B. Guerra and R. Trivino) or Ken Block was on the circuit!
This time, we stayed behind to watch all the cars including the WRC, WRC2 (formally Group N and PWRC) and the NACAM cars (NACAM is the South-Central American Rally championship).







Last edited by nismogti-r; 03-16-2013 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:56 AM   #4
nismogti-r
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Saturday March 9th

On Saturday morning, we went to the Poliforum to snoop around the Service area and do some rally shopping . Afterwards, we went to the huge parking lot for the Soccer arena located next to the poliforum where a Street Stage was staged. Once again, a great atmosphere was awaiting drivers and spectators. Seeing the cars run through a fully paved stage was gratuitous but very entertaining and made for great pictures!










Last edited by nismogti-r; 03-16-2013 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:57 AM   #5
nismogti-r
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Saturday, March 9th (Continued)
Next, thanks to our WRC map, my wife found a nice back road that seemed to lead to a twisty bit of the SS18 Otates 2 stage! So off we went. The drive was very interesting; we first went through some nice rural communities and then drove around through ranches and farms (they were growing weird looking kind of cactus). When we arrived, we setup at the bottom of a hill just past a tight S-curve. We were among a group of 30-40 spectators. After talking in French with my wife, once again, a spectator asked us where we were from. When I answered we were from Canada, he asked us what brought us to Mexico… Lol You should have seen his face when we told him and the crowd surrounding us that we came to Mexico for the rally… on our honeymoon!








Videos

They were also astonished to see my camera setup. It’s a VIO P.O.V. camera, which we use in our rally car, strapped to the small end of a camera monopod! Even more surprising to them was to see my cellphone pictures of my brother and I rallying on snow and ice (Perce-neige rally)… They couldn’t believe we race on the stuff! Haha


By the time we got off the stage though, it was too late to go see the last stages of the day which were a repeat of the Super Specials from the previous day at the autodroma so we went back to town and had a nice supper watching the WRC cars drive by on their way to the overnight “parc ferm” and called it a day.
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:11 AM   #6
nismogti-r
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Sunday March 10th

We had decided to skip the final day of racing and simply drive back to Puerto Vallarta on Sunday. Including a quick stop in the town of Tequila, the home of the alcoholic beverage with the same name, the drive only took us 7 hours this time around. The next few days were spent relaxing on the side of the Pacific Coast.



Thanks for reading!
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Old 03-22-2013, 05:50 PM   #7
STi320
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Thanks for sharing!
Good pics.
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Old 03-22-2013, 07:46 PM   #8
dwx
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Thanks for the pics, went in 2007. We drove from Mexico City and stayed in Guanajuato.
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Old 03-23-2013, 11:29 AM   #9
morse9443
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Looks like a blast! Thanks for the pics and vids..
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:21 AM   #10
Dindass
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All the pics are looking great and i really appreciate such read with sharing pics,.
Please shared some more pics of it here,.
Metal Recycler Brisbane

Last edited by Dindass; 12-19-2013 at 07:26 AM.
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