The World Rally Championship visits Mexico this weekend with many teams taking part in recce today. Mexico proves a tricky challenge not only for the drivers, but the engineers as well. For those who are new to the WRC, Rally Mexico pushes the teams to altitudes they do not experience anywhere else on the schedule. This has a major impact on the engine and how it performs. The official WRC page put up a great story here that detail how Volkswagen prepared for the tricky altitude conditions.
“On the one hand the air pressure and oxygen content of the air decrease the higher you go. On the other hand, the air resistance in the turbocharger also decreases, resulting in higher revs per minute than at any other rally”. – Dr. Donatus Wichelhaus, Head of Engine Development at Volkswagen Motorsport (via WRC.com)
VW has put together a very good team for the Polo R on its debut season. One of the things that always seem to hamper the Ford team a couple years ago was the inability to compete at Rally Mexico. The Focus was no good and down on power to their Citroen rivals C4. It seems Ford did a bit better with the Fiesta as the Ford altitude chamber was used in England to try and minimalize the horsepower lost.
As I mentioned on the podcast briefly a couple weeks ago, I look forward to watching the Polo R on stage in particular to see if the engineers have it right.