Ricardo Gonzalez is expecting a sellout crowd for this weekend’s inaugural Six Hours of Mexico presented by AT&T, while also planning long-term growth for the FIA World Endurance Championship in Mexico City.
Gonzalez, who is wearing two hats this weekend as the RGR Sport owner/driver and event promoter through his company Invicta, said he’s been pleased with the pre-event buildup for the championship’s first trip to Mexico.
“We’ve been working on the project for a long time but we really didn’t have something concrete until three months before the event,” Gonzalez told Sportscar365.
“At that time it was run, do everything, and do it for the first time. It has been a big challenge. But we’ve had the luck to build a very good and efficient team.
“That shows what we’re seeing right now, on the Wednesday before everything starts.”
WEC teams arrived at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez earlier this week, to what’s so far been a largely positive experience for newest circuit on the calendar.
There’s been encouraging figures on the commercial side as well, with 51,000 tickets having already been sold and only 4,000 still available, as of Wednesday.
According to FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu, corporate hospitality has been sold out, while a large fan area is being set up near the paddock, featuring products such as Tequila Patron.
“I can see the WEC organization is relaxed and doing what they have to do and not running around, and for me that’s very important,” Gonzalez said.
“Hopefully we’re going to be well set up for the commercial side and have full grandstands through the start [of the race].
“It will hopefully help me put my brain back into driving and what I need to do.”
Gonzalez and co-drivers Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque head into the team’s home race second in the LMP2 championship, following a strong start to the season that’s included a class win on debut at Silverstone.
For the Mexican businessman, who has poured the majority of his energy into the promotion of the event, his primary focus for the remainder of this weekend will shift to his team’s performance on the track.
“I had been focusing on the promotions side 100 percent until Tuesday,” Gonzalez said. “[On Tuesday], I started to delegate a little bit more.
“We have a lot of chats with the different teams [in the organization] and I’ve stopped looking at them… In case something really important comes up, they can contact me directly.
“I’m making a smooth transition and hopefully on Thursday it can be 90 percent on the racing and 10 percent on the promotion.
“We’re coming here second place in the championship. There’s that pressure but the team has gelled very well since the beginning of the year. That helps a lot.
“They know what they have to do and they know I’m very busy with other things so they’re helping me a lot to keep my schedule working with my other obligations.”
There’s also been a focus on building the long-term future of the event.
While on a three-year contract with the WEC, Gonzalez said he holds an option to exit the deal after this weekend’s event, although admits that’s unlikely to happen, given the encouraging start.
“Things are looking good,” he said. “We can say we will continue but we have to go past this event and make conclusions on all the sides and come up with a final conclusion.”
The former WEC LMP2 drivers’ champion stressed the importance of having a sell-out crowd for this weekend, in order to build the fanbase and exposure year after year.
“It was our ambition since day one because it has to be a very strong first year for us to be able to have more sponsors in the future,” Gonzalez said. “That’s necessary for the event to continue for more years.
“Definitely, the first year has to be a big push. I know the [WEC] brand and I know the numbers. It’s a brand that everywhere they go, the learning curve goes up and every year they have more spectators.
“So if we’re packed this year, then hopefully we’ll continue growing. We have other areas of the track that we can open in the future. Hopefully that’s the case.”