[Home]Car Rally

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A form of automobile racing on standard bitumen and dirt roads.

Rally vehicles are modified road cars, often based on turbocharged, four wheel drive versions of standard small cars such as the Subaru Impreza WRX and the [Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution]?. One prototypical rally car is the Audi "UR-Quattro". They are further modified for greater power and torque, and fitted with suspension and tyres specifically suited to the conditions of the specific rally, which make take place entirely on bitumen roads, different consistencies of gravel and dirt roads, and even snow-covered roads on some rallies held in northern Europe.

Unlike circuit racing, where drivers can learn the short tracks very quickly, a rally constantly covers new roads throughout its duration. Therefore, a co-driver is given the job of reading maps of the rally stages (in the past, the routes were kept secret until the day of the rally, and the maps prepared by the organisers, but more recently maps and notes can be prepared by the co-driver before the rally) and instructing the driver as to what's ahead.

In the US, until 2002, the rules specificed that the route was secret. Only a routebook, describing the major turns and key points was supplied. In 2002 the rules allow "course notes" giving much more detail than a typical route book be available to all competitors. The route still remains secret and there is no reconnaisance.

Rallies consist of a sequence of relatively short-duration (up to about 50 kilometres) timed "special stages" where the actual competition takes place, and untimed "transport stages" where the rally cars must be driven under their own power to the next competitive stage. Rally cars are thus unlike virtually any other top-line racing cars in that they retain the ability to run at normal driving speeds, and indeed are registered for street travel.

Because the drivers don't know exactly what's ahead, the lower traction available on dirt roads, and the driving characteristics of small four-wheel-drive cars, the drivers are much less visibly smooth than bitumen circuit racers, regularly sending the car literally flying over bumps, and sliding the cars out of corners. The entertaining nature, and the fact that the vehicles are in some cases closely related to road cars, draws massive spectator interest in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. While not as popular in the US, with recent TV coverage the interest and numbers of spectators has grown massively.

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Last edited December 21, 2001 12:48 am by 24.15.135.xxx (diff)