The FIA World Rally Championship is the premier international rallying series organised by the FIA, culminating with a Champion Driver and a Champion Manufacturer at the end of the season.
Widely regarded as the most challenging motor sport competition on the planet, the globe-trotting series sees crews battle it out on some of the most unforgiving terrains and enduring extreme weather conditions, to be crowned the world’s greatest driver and co-driver.
The top level is primarily the domain of manufacturers and superstar drivers. The support series are divided into two categories, one for manufacturer-supported entries (WRC2) and one for independent drivers (WRC3). The Junior WRC provides an entry level championship.
Drivers battle one at a time to complete stages as quickly as possible, with timing taken to 1/10th second. The driver is at the control of the steering wheel and pedals, but the co-driver can help dictate the speed as the co-driver reads detailed pace notes that explain the road, conditions and hazards ahead.
Most rallies follow the same basic itinerary. This starts with two days of ‘reconnaissance’ where driver and co-driver practise the route, at limited speed, to make pace notes.
It is followed by ‘shakedown’ – a full speed test of their rally car – with the competition proper running for three days from Friday to Sunday. The rally route is made up of Special Stages – the competitive parts of the rally where drivers must race against the clock to achieve the fastest stage times, and the Road Sections which link each Stage and are part of the public highway.
In between the driving Competitors visit the service park at pre-determined times to allow a of team technicians to perform mechanical work on the cars. There are usually three service sessions in a day:
- An initial 15-minute visit in the morning before the opening stage
- A 40-minute session midway through a day’s competition
- An end-of-day session lasting 45 minutes in which cars are re-prepared for the following day
Service is tightly governed and time penalties are applied if a competitor exceeds the allotted time in service. At the end of each day’s competition, cars are held in a secure parc fermé overnight with no access for team members or competitors.
Outside of the service park, only a driver and co-driver can work on their car, using only tools and spare parts carried onboard.