History and Development :
Such races can be dated back to 1894, when horseless cart races were first organized in Paris . Since the day the term “rally” was used in the first Monte Carlo Rally in 1911, the sport has come a long way since then . Its commercialization began immediately, it excited the leading car manufacturers and gained plenty of interest among the public.Now races began to get longer and tougher after that, city -to-city and even cross-country races were organized later on in the future. Of Course the sport experienced its share of slacks in its history, mainly due to the fatalities involved and during WW-I and WW-II. It was banned in almost all of Europe for a brief while initially, till 1907.
The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), the international motor-sport governing body, In 1973, organized the first World Rally Championship(WRC). The 42nd Auto Rally of Monte-Carlo became the first ever FIA World Rally Championship event. In 1987, the FIA sanctioned the first World Touring Car Championship.The WRC which is formed by different top notch international rally’s is the sports premiere event, Driver’s world championship and Manufacturer’s championships are also some major events. Some races like the Dakar rally (1979–present ), which is the most grueling and testing off all, The East African Rally are also followed worldwide.
The game has evolved a great deal till now, as the traditional formats are changed and induction of new rules and regulations and certain alterations like Special Stage (A timed competitive section of road.) and Super Special Stage(A stage that is run in a specially built arena or on a specially constructed course) were introduced .
The Cars :
A rally car is essentially a professionally modified production car , but the most competitive cars are limited-production prototypes. Almost every major car-maker has entered this format of racing ,Peugeot 206, 307, Citroën Xsara, Subaru imprezza and Skoda Fabia are some of the successful rally cars at present.These are built within the technical regulations set by the F.I.A. Races are grouped under various categories under WRC viz. Group A, Group B(discontinued), SUPER 1600 and 2000 are the main ones. WRC cars are built under the following specifications :
- Engine displacement of maximum 2 L
- Turbo or ALS ( anti-lag system ), To limit power, all forced induction (turbocharged) cars are fitted with a 34 mm diameter air-restrictor before the turbocharger inlet, limiting the air flow. This air flow limits power output of the engine to 300 hp officially.
- Four wheel drive , Suspension settings are changed and tyres are used accordingly to the track type
- Weight reduction to a minimum weight of 1230 kg, Aerodynamic parts
- Chassis strengthening for greater rigidity and safety enhancement.
Drivers and Co-drivers :
Rally drivers are considered to be the best drivers in the world .They master driving all sorts of tracks under all kinds of weather and possess the stamina to withstand the grueling hundreds of miles of the race track lasting several days. The rally driver’s thrill comes in overcoming the environmental obstacle as much as it comes from beating the opposition in wheel-to-wheel competition. That means the rally driver’s toughest opponent is sitting in the driver’s seat. Racing the elements or the clock is essentially an internal competition in which the driver is always trying to go faster and seldom goes fast enough.
- Co- Drivers : The key to rally drivers’ success are their co-drivers. Rally drivers cannot practice the course and must rely on their navigators (or co-driver) to survive. They prepares the notes containing the detailed information of the track’s turns and roads. Rally drivers determine what speed and angle to enter each turn or crest in the road by listening to their co-drivers’ constant instructions.
The Tracks :
Rally racing is a premiere form of motor -racing, but it is different from the traditional circuit race. It is a point-to-point format of racing rather than a circuit. The race can last several days and cover hundreds of miles through rain, snow, gravel or forests, day or night! In this format of racing, the tracks are temporarily closed public roads usually unpaved; they might be high mountain passes, long desert passes, valleys or forest roads. The drivers and the co-drivers drive between set locations (stages) on a specified track leaving from one or more start points on their cars .
Some terminologies associated with a rally race track:
1. Cutting: Sometimes rally drivers clip the inside of turns in the road to reduce total distance traveled and maintain higher speed through corners. At times, it can be unsafe to cut corners.
2. Hairpin: A hairpin is a slow, 180 degree turn.
3. Leg: A leg refers to each part of the rally, separated by a fixed minimum stopping time. Typically each day of a rally is a different leg.
4. Notes/Pace notes: Notes are descriptions of the roads used in the rally. The co-driver calls the notes to the driver so the driver knows what to expect. In man Rallies across the world, the driver and co-driver get to pre-run the rally roads at slow speeds in a street car in order to create their own notes.
5.Oversteer: Oversteering occurs when the car turns more than the driver expects.
6.Parc Expose : An area where all competing cars are parked together and put on display for fans to enjoy up close.
7.Parc Ferme: An area where all competing rally cars must be parked and left alone. Typically used overnight or upon completion of the rally.
8.Regrouping : Regrouping refers to a scheduled stop, during which time cars remaining in the rally are regrouped. No service is allowed during a regroup.
9. Recce (short for Reconnaissance): When a driver and co-driver pre-run the competitive route at legal public speeds in a non-competition car, the term “recce” is used. The driver and co-driver use the recce to create their stage notes.
10. Road Section : A section of public road where rally cars must travel at legal speeds and obey all traffic laws. Road sections typically link the timed competitive sections and are also links to and from service areas. They are also known as”transits.”
11. Tarmac: This term is used in rallying to refer to paved roads in asphalt.
12. Understeer : This is a condition exhibited when a car’s front wheels have little or no grip and are unable to steer the vehicle. A car that understeers will not turn in as well or at all. On gravel roads understeer may be more pronounced due to the lack of grip available.