27 - 29 Apr 12
Based:Villa Carlos Paz
Argentina, which first hosted a round of the World Rally Championship in 1980, is regarded as one of the toughest events on the WRC trail and the revised competitive route for 2012 will make it the longest since the Safari Rally in 2002 at 503 kilometres.
Based in Villa Carlos Paz north of the capital Buenos Aires, the town lies on the banks of the spectacular San Roque Lake in the south of the Punilla Valley close to the city of Cordoba.
The event is popularised by its jumps, water splashes and the lunar landscape of the high altitude El Condor stage, not to mention the tens of thousands of fans who line the route, and who are considered some of the most enthusiastic on the planet.
Although they are flowing in nature, the stages in Argentina are renowned for being slightly slower but more technically demanding than some of the other tests drivers experience in the WRC.
The surface is also quite sandy, which increases the risk of punctures because of a greater likelihood of rocks being pulled into the road by the competing cars. Because the road surface is softer, ruts can form following the first pass.
Argentina’s Southern Hemisphere location means the rally will take place in early autumn, which will increase the challenge facing the crews as they negotiate the testing terrain in colder and wetter conditions. However, the freezing mornings experienced during the event in 2011 are unlikely to be such a factor in 2012 as the event is running one month earlier than last season.
Organisers had considered including stages in neighbouring Chile and Uruguay but while those plans have been dropped for now, the focus is very much on endurance. As well as the demanding competitive route of 503 kilometres over 19 stages, the event will feature the 66-kilometre El Durazno-Ambul stage on the final morning, while Friday’s itinerary includes two runs over the Ascochinga-Agua de Oro test, which has been increased to 52.8 kilometres in length.