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Rallying is a form of motor competition that takes place on public or private roads with modified production or specially built road-legal cars. This motorsport is distinguished by running not on a circuit, but instead in a point-to-point format in which participants and their co-drivers drive between set control points (stages), leaving at regular intervals from one or more start points. Rallies may be won by pure speed within the stages or alternatively by driving to a predetermined ideal journey time within the stages.

History Edit

Brass eraEdit

The term "rally", as a branch of motorsport, dates from the first Monte Carlo Rally of January 1907. Until the late 1920s, few if any other events used the term. Rallying itself can be traced back to the 1894 Paris-Rouen Horseless Carriage Competition (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux), sponsored by a Paris newspaper, Le Petit Journal, which attracted considerable public interest and entries from leading manufacturers. Prizes were awarded to the vehicles by a jury based on the reports of the observers who rode in each car; the joint winners were Panhard et Levassor and Peugeot.

This event led directly to a period of city-to-city road races in France and other European countries, which introduced many of the features found in later rallies: individual start times with cars running against the clock rather than head to head; time controls at the entry and exit points of towns along the way; road books and route notes; and driving over long distances on ordinary, mainly gravel, roads, facing hazards such as dust, traffic, pedestrians and farm animals.

The first of these great races was the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris of June 1895, won by Emile Levassor in a Panhard-et-Levassor. His time for the 1,178 km (732 mile) course, running virtually without a break, was 48 hours and 48 minutes, an average speed of 24 km/h (15 mph). Just eight years later, in the Paris-Madrid race of May 1903, the Mors of Fernand Gabriel, running over the same roads, took just under five and a quarter hours for the 550 km (342 miles) to Bordeaux, an average of 105 km/h (65.3 mph). Speeds had now far outstripped the safe limits of dusty highways thronged with spectators and open to other traffic, people and animals; there were numerous crashes, many injuries and eight deaths. The French government stopped the race and banned this style of event. From now on, racing in Europe (apart from Italy) would be on closed circuits, initially on long loops of public highway and then, in 1907, on the first purpose-built track, England's Brooklands. Racing was going its own separate way.

Italy had been running road events since 1895, when a reliability trial was run from Turin to Asti and back. The country's first true motor race was held in 1897 along the shore of Lake Maggiore, from Arona to Stresa and back. This led to a long and thriving tradition of road racing, including events like Sicily's Targa Florio (from 1906) and Giro di Sicilia (Lap of Sicily, 1912), which went right round the island, both of which continued on and off until after World War II. The first Alpine event was held in 1898, the Austrian Touring Club's three-day Automobile Run through South Tyrol, which included the infamous Stelvio Pass.

In April and May 1900, the Automobile Club of Great Britain (the forerunner of the Royal Automobile Club) organised the Thousand Mile Trial, a 15-day event linking Britain's major cities, in object to promote this novel form of transport. Seventy vehicles took part, the majority of them trade entries. They had to complete thirteen stages of route varying in length from 43 to 123 miles at average speeds of up to the legal limit of 12 mph, and tackle six hillclimb or speed tests. On rest days and at lunch halts, the cars were shown to the public in exhibition halls.

In Germany, the challenging Herkomer Trophy Trial was first held in 1905, an 800km (500mi) event which included a hillclimb and a speed trial. The first year, only tourers were allowed. In 1906, pure racers appeared, and the win went to Dr. Rudolf Stoess in a Horch (actually with the smallest engine).[1]

Also in 1905, France got in the act, when L'Auto sponsored the Coupe de l'Auto for small sporters; entrants included the Peugeot Lion, Sizaire-Naudin, Isotta Fraschini (which resembled the contemporary Mercer Raceabout), Bugatti Type 13, and Martini. For the 1911 event, Louis Bablot ran a Delage, which was subsequently detuned into a road car.[2]

These was joined by the famous Prinz Heinrich Fahrt (Prince Henry Trial) in 1908, and the first sports cars, a 3 liter 20hp[3] (15kW) Vauxhall (from which tuner Lawrence Pomeroy had gotten 60hp {45kW}, against the stock 38hp {28kW} at the flywheel)[4] and the advanced 5.4 liter 27/80 PS four-cylinder Austro-Daimler (designed, and driven to a win, by Ferdinand Porsche), with eleven entrants and a 1-2-3 finish.[5] The first Alpine Trial was held in 1909, in Austria; by 1914, this was the toughest event of its kind, producing a star performance from Britain's James Radley in his Rolls Royce Alpine Eagle. Then in 1911 came the first Monte Carlo Rally (later known colloquially as "the Monte"), organised by the operators of the famous casinoTemplate:Fact to attract wealthy sporting motorists. The competitive elements were slight, but getting to Monaco in winter was a challenge in itself. A second event was held in 1912.

Two ultra long distance challenges took place at this time, the Peking-Paris of 1907 (won by Prince Scipio Borghese and Luigi Barzini in an Itala) and the New York-Paris of the following year (won by George Schuster and others in a Thomas Flyer), which went via Japan and Siberia. Each event attracted only a handful of adventurous souls, but in both cases the winners exhibited characteristics modern rally drivers would recognise: meticulous preparation, mechanical skill, resourcefulness, perseverance and a certain single-minded ruthlessness. The New York-Seattle race of 1909, if shorter, was no easier. Rather gentler (and more akin to modern rallying) was the Glidden Tour, run by the American Automobile Association between 1902 and 1913, which had timed legs between control points and a marking system to determine the winners.

In Britain meanwhile, the Scottish Automobile Club started its tough annual trial in 1902, the Motor Cycling Club allowed cars to enter its trials and runs from 1904 (London-Edinburgh, London-Land's End, London-Exeter — all still in being as mud-plugging classic trials). In 1908 the Royal Automobile Club held its 2,000mi (3200km) International Touring Car Trial, and 1914 the important Light Car Trial for manufacturers of cars up to 1400 cc, to test comparative performances and improve the breed. In 1924, the exercise was repeated as the Small Car Trials.

Interwar yearsEdit

The First World War brought a lull. The Monte Carlo Rally was not resuscitated until 1924, but since then, apart from World War II and its aftermath, it has been an annual event and remains a round of the World Rally Championship. In the 1930s, helped by the tough winters, it became the premier European rally, attracting 300 or more participants.

In the 1920s, numerous variations on the Alpine theme sprang up in Austria, Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany. The most important of these were Austria's Alpenfahrt, which continued into its 44th edition in 1973, Italy's Coppa delle Alpi, and the Coupe Internationale des Alpes (International Alpine Trial), organised jointly by the automobile clubs of Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and, latterly, France. This last event, run from 1928 to 1936, attracted strong international fields vying for an individual Glacier Cup or a team Alpine Cup, including successful Talbot, Riley, MG and Triumph teams from Britain and increasingly strong and well funded works representation from Adolf Hitler's Germany, keen to prove its engineering and sporting prowess with successful marques like Adler, Wanderer and Trumpf.

The French started their own Rallye des Alpes Françaises in 1932, which continued after World War II as the Rallye International des Alpes, the name often shortened to Coupe des Alpes. Other important rallies started between the wars included Britain's RAC Rally (1932) and Belgium's Liège-Rome-Liège (1931), two events of radically different character; the former a gentle tour between cities from various start points, "rallying" at a seaside resort with a series of manoeuvrability and car control tests; the latter a thinly disguised road race over some of Europe's toughest mountain roads.

In Ireland, the first Ulster Motor Rally (1931) was run from multiple starting points. After several years in this format, it transitioned into the 1000-mile Circuit of Ireland Rally. In Italy, Benito Mussolini's government encouraged motor sport of all kinds and facilitated road racing, so the sport quickly restarted after World War I, and in 1927 the Mille Miglia was founded, run over a 1,000 mile (1,600 km) loop of highways from Brescia to Rome and back. It continued in this form until 1938.

The Liège of August 1939 was the last major event before World War II, and it became a symbol of defiance against the threat that was looming large. Germany's works teams were out in force, determined to secure for the Reich a victory that had so far eluded them; but they were thwarted by two gifted drivers in French cars, Belgium's Ginet Trasenster (Bugatti) and France's Jean Trevoux (Hotchkiss) who tied for first place. This was one of five Liège wins for Trasenster; Trevoux won four Montes between 1934 and 1951.

Post war yearsEdit

Rallying was again slow to get under way after a major war, but the 1950s were the Golden Age of the long-distance road rally. In Europe, the Monte Carlo Rally, the French and Austrian Alpines and the Liège were joined by a host of new events that quickly established themselves as classics: the Lisbon Rally (Portugal, 1947), the Tulip Rally (the Netherlands, 1949), the Rally to the Midnight Sun (Sweden, 1951, now the Swedish Rally) the Rally of the 1000 Lakes (Finland, 1951 - now the Rally Finland), and the Acropolis Rally (Greece, 1956). The FIA created a European Rally Championship of ten or twelve events (others being the German Rally, the Sestriere Rally in Italy and the Viking Rally in Norway). In 1958 the first officially recognised UK national rally series, the then-named RAC British Rally Championship began, won in that year by Ron Gouldbourn and Stuart Turner in a Triumph TR3A.

Initially most of them were fairly gentlemanly, but the organisers of the French Alpine and the Liège (which moved its turning point from Rome into Yugoslavia in 1956) straight away made no bones about setting difficult time schedules: the Automobile Club de Marseille et Provence laid on a long tough route over a succession of rugged passes, stated that cars would have to be driven flat out from start to finish, and gave a coveted Coupe des Alpes to anyone achieving an unpenalised run; while Belgium's Royal Motor Union made clear that no car was expected to finish the Liège unpenalised - when one did (1951 winner Johnny Claes in a Jaguar XK120) they tightened the timing to make sure it never happened again. These two events became the ones for "the men" to do. But the Monte, because of its glamour, got the media coverage and the biggest entries (and in snowy years was also a genuine challenge); while the Acropolis took advantage of Greece's appalling roads to become a truly tough event. In 1956 came Corsica's Tour de Corse, 24 hours of virtually non-stop flat out driving on some of the narrowest and twistiest mountain roads on the planet - the first major rally to be won by a lady driver, Belgium's Gilberte Thirion, in a Renault Dauphine.

These events were road races in all but name, but in Italy such races were still allowed, and the Mille Miglia continued until a serious accident in 1957 caused it to be banned.

Outside EuropeEdit

In countries where there was no shortage of demanding roads across remote terrain, other events sprang up. In South America, the biggest of these took the form of long distance city to city races, each of around 5,000 to 6,000 miles (8,000-9,500 km), divided into daily legs. The first was the Gran Premio del Norte of 1940, run from Buenos Aires to Lima and back; it was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a much modified Chevrolet coupé. This event was repeated in 1947, and in 1948 an even more ambitious one was held, the Gran Premio de la América del Sur from Buenos Aires to Caracas, Venezuela — Fangio had an accident in which his co-driver was killed. Then in 1950 came the fast and dangerous Carrera Panamericana, a 1,911 mile (3,075 km) road race in stages to celebrate the opening of the asphalt highway between the Guatemala and US borders, which ran until 1954. All these events fell victim to the cost of putting them on in an increasingly complex and developed world, although smaller road races continued long after, and a few still do in countries like Bolivia.

In Africa, 1950 saw the first French-run Méditerranée-le Cap, a 10,000 mile (16,000 km) rally from the Mediterranean to South Africa; it was run on and off until 1961, when the new political situation hastened its demise. In 1953 East Africa saw the demanding Coronation Safari, which went on to become the Safari Rally and a World Championship round, to be followed in due course by the Rallye du Maroc in Morocco, and the Rallye Côte d'Ivoire in the Ivory Coast. Australia's RedeX Round Australia Trial also dates from 1953, although this remained isolated from the rest of the rallying world.

Canada hosted one of the world's longest and most gruelling rallies during the 1960s, the Shell 4000 Rally. It was also the only one sanctioned by FIA in North America.[1]

Modern timesEdit

Rallying became very popular in Sweden and Finland in the 1950s, thanks in part to the invention there of the "specialsträcka" (Swedish) or "erikoiskoe" (Finnish), or special stage: shorter sections of route, usually on minor or private roads — predominantly gravel in these countries — away from habitation and traffic, which were separately timed. These at long last provided the solution to the conflict inherent in the notion of driving as fast as possible on ordinary roads. The idea spread to other countries, albeit more slowly to the most demanding events.

The Liège continued as uncompromisingly an open road event run to an impossible time schedule, and remained Europe's toughest rally until 1964, by which time it had turned to the wilds of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria to find traffic-free roads; but in the end the pressures were irresistible. The Coupe des Alpes struggled on until 1973 until it too succumbed, its demise no doubt hastened by the decision of the French motor sporting authorities to select the Tour de Corse as its representative event in international rally championships.

The RAC Rally had formally become an International event in 1951, but Britain's laws precluded the closure of public highways for special stages. This meant that it had to rely on short manoeuvrability tests, regularity sections and night map-reading navigation to find a winner, which made it unattractive to foreign crews. Then in 1961 Jack Kemsley was able to persuade the Forestry Commission to open their many hundreds of miles of well surfaced and sinuous gravel roads, and the event was transformed into one of the most demanding and popular in the calendar, by 1983 having over 600 miles of stage. It is now called the Wales Rally GB.

The introduction of the special stage brought rallying effectively into the modern era. It placed a premium on fast driving, and enabled healthy programmes of smaller events to spring up in Britain, France, Scandinavia, Finland, Belgium and elsewhere.

Since then, the nature of the events themselves has evolved relatively slowly. The increasing costs both of organization and of competing as well as safety concerns have over the last twenty years brought progressively shorter rallies, shorter stages and the elimination of nighttime running, scornfully referred to as "office hours rallying" by older hands. Some of the older international events have gone, replaced by others from a much wider spread of countries around the world, until today rallying is truly a worldwide sport. At the same time, fields have shrunk dramatically, as the amateur in his near-standard car is squeezed out.

Rally car evolutionEdit

The main change over that period has been in the cars, and in the professionalisation and commercialisation of the sport. Manufacturers had entered works cars in rallies, and in their forerunner and cousin events, from the very beginning: the 1894 Paris-Rouen was mainly a competition between them; while the Thousand Mile Trial of 1900 had more trade than private entries. In 1973, this was taken a step further when the FIA created the World Rally Championship for Manufacturers, won in the first year by Alpine-Renault. Not until 1979 was there a World Rally Championship for Drivers, won that year by Björn Waldegård.

Although there had been exceptions like the outlandish Ford V8 specials created by the Romanians for the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally, rallies before World War II had tended to be for standard or near-standard production cars, a rule supported by manufacturers because it created a relatively even playing field. After the war, most competing cars were production saloons or sports cars with only minor modifications to improve performance, handling, braking and suspension. This kept costs down and allowed many more people to afford the sport using ordinary family cars, so entry lists grew into the hundreds.

But as public interest grew, car companies started to introduce special models or variants for rallying, such as the British Motor Corporation's highly successful Mini Cooper, introduced in 1962 and its successor the Mini-Cooper S (1963), developed by the Cooper Car Company. Shortly after, Ford of Britain first hired Lotus to create a high-performance version of their Cortina family car, then in 1968 they launched the Escort Twin Cam, one of the most successful rally car of its era. Similarly, Abarth developed high performance versions of the Fiat 124 roadster and 131 saloon.

Other manufacturers were not content with modifying their bread-and-butter cars. Renault bankrolled the small volume sports-car maker Alpine to transform their little A110 Berlinette coupé into a world-beating rally car, and hired a skilled team of drivers too; then in 1974 came the Lancia Stratos, the first car designed from scratch to win rallies, and the dominant asphalt rally car of its time. These makers overcame the rules of FISA (as the FIA was called at the time) by building the requisite number of these models for the road.

In 1980 a German car maker, not hitherto noted for their interest in motorsport, introduced a rather large and heavy coupé version of their family saloon, installed a turbocharged 2.1 litre five cylinder engine, and fitted it with four-wheel drive. Thus the Audi Quattro was born. International regulations had hitherto prohibited four-wheel drive, but FISA accepted that this was a genuine production car and changed the rules. The Quattro quickly became the car to beat on snow, ice or gravel, and in 1983 took Hannu Mikkola to the World Rally Championship title. Other manufacturers had no production four-wheel drive car on which to base their response, so FISA was persuaded to change the rules and open the Championship to cars in Group B. This allowed cars to be much further removed from production models, and so was created a generation of rallying supercars, of which the most radical and impressive were the Peugeot 205 T16, Renault 5 Turbo and the Lancia Delta S4, with flimsy fibreglass bodies roughly the shape of the standard car tacked on to lightweight spaceframe chassis, four wheel drive, and power outputs reportedly as high as 600 hp. Further Group B cars were developed by Ford (the RS200), British Leyland (the Metro 6R4) and many others, but these were less successful.

The party did not last. On the 1986 Rallye de Portugal, four spectators were killed; then in May, on the Tour de Corse, Henri Toivonen went over the edge of a mountain road and was incinerated in the fireball that followed. FISA immediately changed the rules again: rallying after 1987 would be in Group A cars, closer to the production model. One notably successful car during this period was the Lancia Delta Integrale, dominating world ralling during 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992 - winning six consecutive world rally championships, a feat yet unbeaten.

DriversEdit

Most of the works drivers of the 1950s were amateurs, paid little or nothing, reimbursed their expenses and given bonuses for winning (although there were certainly exceptions, such as the Grand Prix drivers who were brought in for some events). Then in 1960 came arguably the first rallying superstar (and one of the first to be paid to rally full time), Sweden's Erik Carlsson, driving for Saab.

In the 1960s, the competitions manager of BMC, Stuart Turner, hired a series of brave and gifted young Finns, skills honed on their country's highly competitive gravel or snow rallies, and the modern professional driver was born. As special stage rallying spread around the world Scandinavian drivers were challenged by drivers from Italy, Germany, Britain, Spain and elsewhere. Today, a World Champion may be of any nationality, if he (or she) is gifted enough.

The World Rally Championship now visits nearly all continents, taking its stylish sideways driving style and specialized cars to a vast global market, estimated by some to be second only to the Formula One juggernaut. This has produced unprecedented levels of visibility in recent years, but in many ways removed the motorsport from its grassroots past. For better or worse, rally has become a lucrative business.

Rally typesEdit

There are two main forms: stage rallies and road rallies. Since the 1960s, stage rallies have been the professional branch of the sport. They are based on straightforward speed over stretches of road closed to other traffic. These may vary from asphalt mountain passes to rough forest tracks, from ice and snow to desert sand, each chosen to provide an enjoyable challenge for the crew and a test of the car's performance and reliability.

The entertaining and unpredictable nature of the stages, and the fact that the vehicles are in some cases closely related to road cars, means that the bigger events draw massive spectator interest, especially in Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Road rallies are the original form, held on highways open to normal traffic, where the emphasis is not on outright speed but on accurate timekeeping and navigation and on vehicle reliability, often on difficult roads and over long distances. They are now primarily amateur events. There are several types of road rallies testing accuracy, navigation or problem solving. Some common types are: Regularity rally or a Time-Speed-Distance rally (also TSD rally, testing ability to stay on track and on time),[6] another is the Pan-Am or Monte-Carlo-style rally (testing navigation), and the Gimmick rally (testing logic).

Many early rallies were called trials, and a few still are, although this term is now mainly applied to the specialist form of motor sport of climbing as far as you can up steep and slippery hills. And many meets or assemblies of car enthusiasts and their vehicles are still called rallies, even if they involve merely the task of getting there (often on a trailer).

Rallying is a very popular sport at the "grass roots" of motorsport—that is, motor clubs. Individuals interested in becoming involved in rallying are encouraged to join their local automotive clubs. Club rallies (e.g. road rallies or regularity rallies) are usually run on public roads with an emphasis on navigation and teamwork. These skills are important fundamentals required for anyone who wishes to progress to higher-level events. (See Categories of rallies.)

Rally courses Edit

Rally is also unique in its choice of where and when to race. Rallies take place on all surfaces and in all conditions: asphalt (tarmac), gravel, or snow and ice, sometimes more than one in a single rally, depending on the course and event. Rallies are also run every month of the year, in every climate, bitter cold to monsoon rain. This contributes to the notion of top rally drivers as some of the best car control experts in the world. As a result of the drivers not knowing exactly what lies ahead, the lower traction available on dirt roads, and the driving characteristics of small cars, the drivers are much less visibly smooth than circuit racers, regularly sending the car literally flying over bumps, and sliding the cars out of corners.

A typical rally course consists of a sequence of relatively short (up to about 50km/30mi), timed "special stages" where the actual competition takes place, and untimed "transport stages" where the rally cars must be driven under their own power to the next competitive stage within a generous time limit. Rally cars are thus unlike virtually any other top-line racing cars in that they retain the ability to run at normal driving speeds, and indeed are registered for street travel. Some events contain "super special stages" where two competing cars set off on two parallel tracks (often small enough to fit in a football stadium), giving the illusion they are circuit racing head to head. These stages, ridiculed by many purists, seem increasingly popular with event organizers. Run over a day, a weekend, or more, the winner of the event has the lowest combined special and super special stage times. Given the short distances of super special stages compared to the regular special stages and consequent near-identical times for the frontrunning cars, it is very rare for these spectator-oriented stages to decide rally results, though it is a well-known axiom that a team can't win the rally at the super special, but they can certainly lose it.

Pacenotes and reconnaissance Edit

Pacenotes are a unique and major tool in modern rallying. Television spectators will occasionally notice the voice of a co-driver in mid-race reading the pacenotes over the car's internal intercom. These pacenotes provide a detailed description of the course and allow the driver to predict conditions ahead and prepare for various course conditions such as turns and jumps.

In many rallies, including those of the World Rally Championship (WRC), drivers are allowed to run on the stages of the course before competition and create their own pacenotes. This process is called reconnaissance or recce. During reconnaissance, the co-driver writes down shorthand notes (the pacenotes) on how to best drive the stage. Usually the drivers call out the turns and road conditions for the co-drivers to write down. These pacenotes are read aloud through an internal intercom system during the actual race, allowing the driver to anticipate the upcoming terrain and thus take the course as fast as possible.

Other rallies provide organizer-created "route notes" also referred to as "stage notes" and disallow reconnaissance and use of other pacenotes. These notes are usually created using a predetermined pacenote format, from which a co-driver can optionally add comments or transpose into other pacenote notations. Many North American rallies do not conduct reconnaissance but provide stage notes through the use of the Jemba Inertia Notes System, due to time and budget constraints.[7]

In the past, most rally courses were not allowed to be scanned prior to the race, and the co-drivers used only maps supplied by the organization. The exact route of the rally often remained secret until race day. Modern rallies have mostly converted to using organizer-supplied notes or allowing full reconnaissance, as opposed to racing the stages blindly. This change has been brought on in large part due to competitor demand. Because pacenotes allow a driver to plan for upcoming turns and road conditions, reconnaissance makes the competition experience faster, safer, and more satisfying for the entrant.

Historic rallying Edit

In the wake of the ever-more advanced rally cars of the twenty-first century comes the trend towards historic rallying (also known as classic rallying), in which older cars compete under older style rally rules.[8][9] This is a popular sport and even attracts some of the drivers of the twentieth century back into the driving seat. Many who enter, however, have started their competition careers in historic rallying.


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