The FIA World Rally Championship is regarded as one of the toughest motorsport competitions in the world, and its 13 events in 13 countries over four continents test the drivers and their cars to the limits.
No two events are the same as the surfaces raced over include ice and snow, tarmac and rough tracks, with the latter often littered with rocks. The rallies also vary in length ranging from two, three or four days, and can feature anything between 15 and 25 special stages. These special stages are run on closed roads with the driver having to compete against the clock to record the fastest possible time.
Even though the driver and his co-driver will have done a recce (reconnaissance) of all the stages, conditions can change and so there is always an added element of the unknown. The co-driver will have a set of what are called pace notes that are made during the recce, and will read these to the driver as they go along to warn him of the direction the stage goes.
Each stage is linked by a road section and on these the crew must observe all the normal rules of the road and laws of the country they are in, and can be penalised if found to be breaking any of them.
The World Rally Championship in its current format goes back to 1973. However, there has only been a Drivers’ World Championship since 1979. The Swede Björn Waldegard was the first champion, but the most successful by far is the reigning champion, Frenchman Sébastien Loeb, who has won for the past nine seasons.
More about the FIA World Rally Championship on www.wrc.com.
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC represents the result of a long and intensive development programme.
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