8 Facts About Rally Cars and Rallying You Probably Don’t Know
Although you might be familiar with rallying, we are certain there are plenty interesting facts related to it you haven’t heard until now.
1. The cars are road-legal. Yes, even the top-level World Rally Championship ones. It’s actually the very first criteria they have to meet in order to be able to compete. During the entire racing weekend, rally cars have to drive from one stage to another by their own propulsion, using the public roads just like everybody else.
2. The rally cars are divided into several different groups to keep the playing field even. Type N rally cars compete with other Type N cars, type A cars compete with type A cars, and so on. You get a general idea. Today though, even the most advanced WRC cars are limited in almost every way possible to stop them from picking up too much speed. The engine size is limited, as is the power, capped off at around 300 horsepower. The FIA governing body also monitors the aero, tire width, the weight and every other little thing you can think of.
3. The most notorious rally group of them all was the infamous Group B. Introduced back in 1982, group B was famous for having next to no regulations whatsoever. Left to their own devices, manufacturers went mad and came up with some truly terrifying creations. Ford’s RS200, Lancia’s Delta S4 and the iconic Audi Quattro S1 all went head to head for the WRC championship. With well over 500 and in some cases even 600 horsepower though, as well as trick aero and fat tires, the cars proved to be too fast for their own good. Several fatal crashes later and group B was no more. The FIA had officially given it the ax for good.
4. The fastest way through a corner on a rally stage is sideways. Although it looks cool and creates one hell of a spectacle, rally drivers intentionally pitch their car sideways to get the most amount of lateral grip for the best possible corner exit. The four-wheel drive system catapults the car, despite the loose gravel surface. WRC cars can hit 100 km/h well under 3 seconds and reach their 200 km/h top speed in less than 10.
5. Rallying is a form of motorsport which takes planes on a private property or a public road which has been closed specifically for the event. The format of rallying is more similar to hill climb racing than it is to circuit racing, since all of the stages are point-to-point. Although most of the events held feature gravel (sand, mud, etc.), a good portion of the stages are made up of tarmac as well. Road surfaces vary greatly not just from stage to stage, but in each individual stage as well. It’s what makes rallying so great.
6. Most of us associate rallying with the WRC championship only, but there are several different takes on what a rally is. Classic time-trial rallies for instance are all about pace and consistency. Unlike the WRC, flat-out is not the name of the game here. In fact, most of the courses actually feature speed limits which you have to adhere to. The point is to finish as close to the given stage time as possible, and do so consistently, every single time. It’s not as exciting as the WRC, but it just goes to show how varied the sport is.
7. Before each stage, the driver and the co-driver go for a ‘mild’ drive on the stage to write their pacenotes. Reconnaissance plays a vital role in how well the team does in the actual drive afterwards. The driver is totally dependent on his co-driver and the pacenotes to know where he’s going, and one small mistake can spell disaster. To make things even more interesting, the co-driver doesn’t actually see out the window at all in most cases. He’s so focused at reading the notes he has to physically feel by the G-forces alone which corner they just passed and where they are on the track. Talk about spatial awareness.
8. The most famous rally of them all is the Monte Carlo rally. It’s also one of the oldest, tracing its roots back to 1911. Notorious for its narrow, twisty tarmac sections, it never fails to provide a spectacle for the fans. Drivers love the atmosphere, but hate the fact that one small mistake can end their entire weekend.