What is Rally?

Rallying. It’s a rather complicated affair. Let’s take a look at what you need:

1. A CAR. In the World Rally Championship, you need a two-liter, four-wheel drive, turbo-charged car packing over 300 BHP.

2. A DRIVER to, well, drive it. The cars start the stage one at a time, so each driver can simply go as fast he can without crashing it.

3. A CODRIVER to tell the driver about the road ahead. Then the driver can concentrate on driving frighteningly fast through the bends, bumps and jumps. The codriver uses PACENOTES, which is a special language that describes the road precisely.

4. The ROAD. They are actual public roads, but they can be on tarmac, gravel, or ice and snow (or icy tarmac and gravelly snow). They can be in the middle of forests, mountains, local towns, or just plain in the middle of nowhere. No ovals in sight. Instead, you have jumps, water splashes and sideways slides.

5. STAGES. Split the roads into timed sections and you get “special stages.”

6. The venue. The championship brings the show to 16 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES a year.

7. The DRAMA. Driving at more than 100mph over 350km, through all the rocks, trees and hazards, you never know what will happen.

6. The MECHANICS. They prepare the car for the conditions and fix all the encounters with all the rocks, trees and hazards.

7. The winner. Whoever has the lowest total time after 350km of competitve stages, over three days, wins. At the end of the year, the driver and the manufacturer’s team with the most points wins the championship.

Here are some videos that sum it all up:

Want more details?

The first day of action isn’t on Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday are used for “RECCE,” which allows the drivers to take a normal road car through the stages to write their pacenotes. They only get two passes, and must adhere to the speed limit, so drivers need experience to imagine the roads at competition speed.

Thursday hosts SHAKEDOWN, which the teams use to test their car’s settings (things ranging from suspension settings to ride height). The drivers also have to attend team briefings, media events, and the ceremonial start. Many rallies hold a SUPER SPECIAL STAGE where two cars start at the same time on separate tracks.

In the WRC, the competition begins on Friday and ends on Sunday. Each day (or LEG) hosts about 6 stages. Most often, the stages are run twice. Each running is called a LOOP. At the end of each loop is a trip to the SERVICE PARK. In between everything, the cars must arrive at certain stations, or TIME CONTROLS, at exact times–one minute late or early and you get a time penalty. At the end of the day, the cars get their beauty sleep in PARC FERME.

After the rally, the cars go under a final SCRUTINEERING to determine that all parts of the car are homologated and conform to regulations. Random scrutineering points are also scattered throughout the weekend (underwear check, anyone?).



  1. Stephanie replied:

    Great explanation of rally… loved the pictures.

  2. amberie replied:

    And I love you! Rally Ireland is Nov. 16-18, so the 19th is rally night at my house!

  3. Stephanie replied:

    It’s on my calendar

  4. Jason replied:

    My blog – mostly WRC – see link! I was in Mexico in 2007, Germany and Finland in 2006 (did you go to Finland that year?), and Corsica and Spain in 2005. I remember seeing you at the X Games. I think I handed you some Travis/Ken posters. 🙂

    Nice to find a huge WRC fan in the States.

  5. jimmyboii replied:

    i love rally its just never on tv =[.atleast my friends gettting an awd celica so we can take it to maine forest rally =]

  6. X Games 16: “Rally Car Racing” and “Super Rally” « What in the World Rally? replied:

    […] like, “whattheFinlandwhosywhatsit?”  Boy, are you in luck! Head on over to my “What is World Rally?” page and catch up on one of the most amazing motorsports ever conceived. You can thank me […]

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