For rally fans, most rounds of the World Championship will now start one day earlier. From a fan's viewpoint, this is the biggest advantage of the new Shakedown regulations. Previously, the old format of the Shakedown took the form of a dress rehearsal ahead of the actual start of the rally and provided teams with a final opportunity to test and optimise the cars. The Shakedown has now taken on a real sporting importance, as the new format will be used to determine the starting order for the first stage.
What is new at the Shakedown? From now on, there will be a so-called "Qualifying Stage" at all rallies held on loose surfaces. Each team has thirty minutes to drive the Qualifying Stage in order to familiarise themselves with the route. On the third run, the official time is recorded for each team. The starting order for the timed third run is based on the current World Championship standings.
The actual starting order for the first Special Stage is not determined directly from the times recorded on the Qualifying Stage, however. The driver with the best time is given first choice of starting position for Special Stage 1. The second-fastest driver on the Qualifying Stage then selects his starting position, followed by the third, and so on. This way, the teams' times from Qualifying help to determine the actual starting order. If a driver relinquishes the right to stipulate his starting position, he must defer to all the other drivers.
Another new format is that the drivers start the following day in reverse order based on the results of the previous day. The slowest driver is first out onto the route. This is intended to spare the leader the disagreeable role of road sweeper and having to clear the route for those behind him. This also removes the temptation for drivers to slow down and drop back through the field at the end of the day, in order to be better placed the following day. At the few rallies held on snow, the teams must now employ cunning tactics to decide which starting position they are after. Depending on the grip of the snow, it may be beneficial to start out earlier or later.
The new rule changes the tactical planning for a rally. However, the rule changes also have consequences for the organisational sequence of the teams' preparations. They must now complete theirs tests before they actually travel to the rally itself. Everything must already be working perfectly when they start the Qualifying Stage now. The smaller teams, in particular, must rethink their planning, as another test not only costs time but also money.
Despite this, we are all excited about the premiere of the Qualifying Stage on 9th February.
After a difficult start to the second day of the Rally Spain, Dani Sordo delivers a spectacular show for his fans with the MINI WRC.
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On the first day in Spain all teams fought off difficult weather conditions and challenging stages. While virtually every stage was marked by retirements, one MINI WRC driver kept his nerve.
Ultimate cornering, breathtaking acceleration.
Qualifying stage, autograph session, media conference, starting order draw and ceremonial start: The preliminaries for the Rallye Spain are over; all five MINI WRC Crews are raring to start the WRC finale.
A car built for victory. The MINI John Cooper Works Challenge races across the track at 240 km/h.
Experience MINI John Cooper Works.