Chris Coronel is the right-hand man or, we should say, right seat co-driver of Mexican rally champion Enrique Meza. Together they’ve contested La Carrera and will soon participate in the WRC Rally of Mexico driving a Motul-partnered Ford Fiesta prepared by VP garage. No better excuse to sit down with him and learn all about the event and what it takes to be a co-driver.
How did you become a co-driver? did you always want to be one or did you drive yourself?
I’ve always been a huge fan of rally my entire life. In the past I had a good friend who was racing in the local championship and, at one point, his regular co-driver was unable to participate in an event, so he asked me to step in. It was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. Since then we started to compete a lot together eventually winning the Carrera Panamericana together more than ten years later. I love driving and I love being a driver. In Mexico I’ve been working with a lot of manufacturers doing test drives for them and working at car events but when it comes to rally I really, really love being a co-driver. I’m definitely a better co-driver than I would be a driver.
What makes a good co-driver?
You have to be able to be extremely focused on the task at hand. It’s very technical. On top of that it’s important to have good intuition and understand how the car will react in a certain situation because you are ultimately the person who guides the driver and he has blind faith in you. However, most of all you need to have courage. As a co-driver you sit in a car that will go at blistering speeds and you have no control. To overcome that takes a lot of trust.
Your next event will be WRC Mexico. How significant is that event for you and for Mexican motorsport?
It’s a huge event for both myself and the industry. It’s an amazing event. I get to race in the same field as all the big names in the sport and my friends, who I’ve been competing with in the local championship. Also, it starts in my hometown so what else could I wish for? For motorsport in Mexico, it’s one of the biggest events of the year and what makes it so special for the people is that it’s completely free to watch. Because of that the stages are lined with people. In stark contrast to other events like F1, it’s really an event for the people.
We talked to Enrique Meza, your driver during the Carrera Panamericana, with whom you also contest the local Mexican championship as well as the WRC next weekend. How different is it to be a co-driver in a WRC rally versus La Carrera?
It’s completely different. We start preparing for the Carrera months in advance. In the WRC we only have two runs at each stage to prepare notes, so it’s very limited. On top of that the stages in WRC are much more technical than in the Carrera. The Carrera demands more endurance while this sort of rally is more about focus.