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Old 03-06-2008, 11:44 PM   #118
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Please don't call it 'Frisco
Oddometer: 510
World Rally Championship

When I left Mexico, Alejandro invited me to join him and a couple of his friends on a ride to the World Rally Championship race in León.



The World Rally Championship is an automobile race using heavily modified subcompact cars putting out 300hp, racing on winding dirt mountain roads at extremely high speeds. If you've ever browsed Youtube for crash videos, you have no doubt seen this:







This is the World Rally Championship. Most Americans have never heard of it, but it's BIG in Mexico and Europe.

I picked up my bike late in the afternoon; Alejandro and friends left that morning so I planned to meet up with them in León. Escaping the DF was a predictable nightmare. While splitting the stop-and-go traffic on the way out of town I was passed by a *bicycle* splitting traffic on the freeway!

Some random sights on the way to León:





It took some trickery with cellphones, but I finally caught up with The Orange Mafia in an Argentinean steakhouse:



Alejandro2 (950S), Angel (990S), Alenjandro (640A)... and enough KTM apparel to dress the entire factory rally team. This turned out to have highly amusing consequences later.

After stuffing ourselves with as much carne as possible, we rode about 45 minutes in the dark on dirt roads to find a campsite in the mountains near the race course. We found a grassy place full of very drunk but fun Mexican partiers. Here's the campsite in the morning:



The next day we jumped on the bikes and headed for the course. First, breakfast on the mountain from one of the many people who set up a grill near the spectators:





At least I'm flying the colors of my home team under my BMW gear.

We started off the fun part of the day with a hill climb. Alejandro hit it first on his 640A; it was crazy steep and I was a little nervous about it. After Alejandro2 ran up the hill on his 950S I couldn't resist. This was the beginning of much hooliganism. The hill from below:



Unfortunately the camera doesn't capture the angle well. Here's looking back from the top. Each of the dust clouds is a racecar:



After wandering around a bit on roads that looked like this...



...we found a good place to park. There wasn't much room so these quads found an interesting solution:



We spent a couple of hours drinking (a little) beer and watching the race.



Here's a few pictures from the race. The cars are moving *fast*:







[IMG]race[/IMG]





Here's a video of a car moving by:






Afterwards we headed back to the "rally campus" at the Poliforum León (an exhibit hall) to watch the cars come in and catch up with Alejandro's friends on the Subaru team.



The pit crew only has 45 minutes to work on the car or the driver gets penalized for time. The mechanics swarm over the vehicles:



Finally the cars are lined up and "locked" in a lot where they cannot be touched by the mechanics:



We talked to the Subaru copilot (each car has driver and copilot). They get to drive the course at normal speed (in a normal car) once, with the copilot taking notes. These notes are turned into a road book, describing every turn and the safe speed. The copilot will tell the driver what speed to take each turn - even if they can't see around it.






Since we walked in wearing our dusty body armor, we must have looked like race drivers because people were *constantly* coming up to us and asking to take pictures. Even the booth babes asked for my autograph!! I am kicking myself for not somehow getting pictures of the hotties trying to get pictures with us.

Here's our bikes out front. The bikes got even more attention than we did. One girl jumped on the back of my bike for a picture.



Getting back to camp was an adventure; it was late and despite the GPS track we got lost in León. My compadres are excellent riders and have no aversion to hooliganism... at one point we hopped a curb and rode on the sidewalk in the wrong direction on a major highway. Good times!
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