The World Rally Championship – what is it, and how does it work?

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The FIA World Rally Championship, or WRC, is the top level of international rally competition. Competitors will drive across all terrains and in all weathers, with the winner being crowned World Rally Champion in November.

It’s a gruelling contest, featuring regular crashes and an ever-present risk to participants. Unlike the controlled environment of circuit racing, rallying embraces uncertainty – drivers are expected to encounter and cope with changing surfaces, dangerous weather, and even animals on the course.

This real-world driving is what keeps fans and spectators interested, though. The fact that a course can be icy in the morning, gravelly at lunchtime and muddy in the evening presents a constant challenge for teams. Tyre choices are crucial, but so too is communication – rallying involves both a driver and co-driver, who effectively share the life-threatening stress of driving a car at 140mph through dense woodland, gently shifting snow drifts or arid desert.

The rounds

The championship covers pretty much the entire year, with thirteen rounds taking place between January and November. Each round is held in a different country, though the names don’t necessarily correspond with the host state: the French rally is the Tour de Corse in Corsica, for example. At each rally there’ll be a service park, which usually takes the form of a large paved area where teams can set up their workshops. In the Tour de Corse this is at Bastia airport; at Wales Rally GB it’s a carpark in Deeside.


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