Rallying is one of the oldest existing motorsports, dating back to the very early 20th century. Basically, a rally is a race which takes place on closed public roads or private roads. The competitors aim to be the fastest between set control points or ‘Special Stages’. Over the course of a rally, there are multiple stages which are to be completed. The driver with the fastest overall time is declared the winner of the rally.
Rallies can be run over almost any kind of road, be it tarmac, gravel, snow and even ice! Before the rally begins, the driver and co-driver make pacenotes of all the stages by visiting them. These pacenotes are indicators spoken by the co-driver to the driver during the stage and a few corners earlier for the driver to form a mental image of what kind of corners are going to arrive next.
Getting your pacenotes right is absolutely crucial since a slight error in them can cause the driver to go through the corner in the wrong way and thus crash. The process of visiting the roads on which the stage will take place and making pacenotes is called ‘Reconaissance’ or ‘Recce’.
The base of every rally is the service park, located generally in a town around the premises. After selected stages, drivers bring their cars back to the service park for repairs. From there, they drive to the start point of the next stage by following regular road rules.
A rally lasts for 5 days. On the first day, the drivers do the Reconaissance run. On the next day, drivers drive their car as fast as possible on a separate stage to test all the parts of their car. This run is called the ‘Shakedown’. The next three days; Saturday and Sunday are full of nonstop rallying action.
For different rally series, different cars of different specifications are used. The biggest rally series in the world, the WRC features road cars, 25,000 models of which have to be sold worldwide. They are modified with advanced aerodynamical devices fitted on the car, power steering, paddle gear shifts and much more equipment to make the cars as fast as possible without ignoring safety.
The rallies are held at some really dangerous locations and the dangers of the car falling into a cliff or sinking into a lake do remain but internally, the cars are very strong and are built to sustain a great amount of damage.
Since each rally has different requirements, the cars are modified accordingly before they are brought to the service park.
Some of the cars that are being used in the 2017 WRC Season are the Hyundai i20 WRC, Citroën DS3 WRC, Ford Fiesta RS WRC and the Toyota Yaris WRC.
There are 3 different types of stages that the drives compete in.
The Special Stage is the regular rally stage which takes place in the outskirts of the city or in rural areas.
The Super Special Stage is a stage held in a public arena where two cars compete head to head in a tough but exciting obstacle course. The turnout of fans in such a stage is very high.
A ‘Street Stage’ is a special obstacle course set up in the city streets of the country hosting a rally. This stage is generally very tight and twisty and a lot of people turn over to watch this stage live .
The final stage of every rally is called the ‘Powerstage’ and the 5 fastest finishers of this stage take home extra points.
what do you need to be a good rally driver?
To be a good rally driver, you must have great reflexes, amazing car control, extensive knowledge about the car, a good co-driver, detailed pacenotes and also a really good car.
There are some really iconic stages in WRC which have been run for years and the fun that they bring seems to be evergreen.
In the Rallye Monte Carlo, the Special Stage ‘Col De Turini’ is famous between both, fans and drivers alike for it’s famous hairpins and tight and technical turns. At times, the stage can be a mixture of both tarmac and snow; drivers start on tarmac and some snow can be expected while going up the hill. While going downhill, there are several hairpins which make the stage iconic.
The Special Stage ‘Vargasen’ in Rally Sweden is one of the most famous roads of Motor Racing. This is because the stage is very tight and technical in the first part and in the second, it is very fast and flowing. The drivers have to use special studded tires for the whole rally as it is run on snow. What makes this stage special is the very well known and crowd favourite ‘Colin’s Crest Arena’ which arrives in the latter half of the stage. The drivers tackle a large jump at Colin’s Crest, a jump named after Late Rally Legend Colin McRae. Thousands of fans gather round this crest and create a party atmosphere. The longest that any driver has ever jumped at Colin’s Crest is a whopping 45m!
Another iconic stage is the ‘Ouninpohja’ stage in the superfast Rally Finland. The stage is the fastest on the WRC calendar with the average speed of the cars being a stunning 130km/h! That speed will surely increase this season with much faster cars. The drives show no sign of stopping in this stage as there as slow corners are very scarce. What makes Ouninpohja so special is it’s massive jumps. Unlike other stages, Ouninpohja has multiple big jumps which makes it very famous amongst both fans and drivers. This stage is deemed as the toughest stage for the car as every part of it is taken to it’s limit.
How to watch wrc?
I personally feel that rallying is one motorsport that shouldn’t be missed as it a fan’s sport; the combination of incredibly powerful cars being driven around picturesque locations is an absolutely amazing sight.
There are two ways to watch WRC. You can either subscribe to WRC+ to watch every stage of a rally and also some exclusive content.
If you are not willing to pay to watch WRC, you will have to settle for the Super Stage of every rally and a day-by-day recap on Red Bull TV.
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