A walk around the WRC service park reveals a multitude of nationalities competing in the various categories, but 2017 has brought a larger than usual contingent from the Americas.
Pancho Name is part of that group, the 32-year-old Mexican a WRC 3 regular after deciding to broaden his horizons from appearances at his home WRC round.
It has taken a long time for him to make the step up from competing in the Mexican championship, which he has twice won, and the regional NACAM series, and he is keen to ensure this year is not a one-off.
“I’ve been working for 10 years to come here, so now I’m not going to miss my opportunity and I don’t want this to be one shot,” said Name, who opened his campaign with a category victory at Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
“It’s the first step for something bigger that we want to do. This programme also makes other drivers from America look to WRC. Sometimes it looks impossible, but they see you as a driver from Mexico working really hard and getting sponsors and it can be possible.”
Name joins the likes of fellow countryman Benito Guerra and Chile’s Pedro Heller, who both contest WRC 2, and WRC 3 compatriots Sebastian Careaga (Bolivia) and Dillon Van Way (USA) on the 2017 circuit. He is clear about his targets for the season.
“We planned this year to be an experience year, it’s something you can’t buy. Of course we’re competing and want the best results, but learning how WRC works outside your own country, knowing the stages and the different surfaces is so important,” he explained.
He also has a clear view about his WRC future. “Our goal is going to WRC 2 in 2018. But we need to ensure our programme, so if we’re a little short of budget, we’ll run a very good and competitive WRC 3 campaign.
“If we have the budget for WRC 2, we have the WRC 3 car here still, so maybe we can help another Mexican driver to come to WRC and start making a good Mexican team,” he added.
Name is backed by Mexico City and drives a Citroën DS 3 R3T run by Luca Pregliasco’s squad, a different proposition from the Mitsubishi Lancer he pilots at home.
“The first rally in Portugal was a little bit tricky because I’m used to a four-wheel drive car. In WRC 3 with a front-wheel drive car, you don’t have the same power and have to be smoother. That’s part of the learning and as a driver you need to adapt to the circumstances,” he said.
Name’s season concludes in Germany, Spain, Britain and Australia and he has already learned how fierce the competition is.
“When you come here you know all the people have a dream to be world champion and they push so much. You’re used to winning in your own country and then here you go back a little at first.
“It was a surprise but if you want to be competitive you have to push yourself a lot, be smart and not make mistakes. It’s a big challenge that I really enjoy,” he said.