Argentinean fans are well-known for their commitment as well as their passion, which is why a trip out to watch on legendary stages such as El Condor becomes more of an excursion than merely a visit.
If there’s one thing the local people love even more than rally cars, it’s meat. So no vantage point is complete without a parilla - or grill - set up nearby. For those who have not come with specific cooking facilities, it’s enough simply to skewer the meat from top to bottom and then place the skewer vertically into the ground, leaving an exposed stick of meat that can be cooked against the heat of a fire built next to it.
That fire will be useful for heating people as well: temperatures in the lunar landscape of the stages are frequently not far above freezing, with dense fog only adding to the challenges that the drivers face.
Watching the endless army of fans take their positions, many of whom have set up camp in places that are seemingly totally inaccessible, the gaucho spirit of adventure and resourcefulness that built Argentina’s rich history is still evident.
The fans’ passion was at its height when Jorge Recalde - Argentina’s biggest rally hero - was competing. Recalde won Rally Argentina in 1988 and then again in 1995, becoming a folk legend.
The date of his death, March 10, which fittingly occurred when he was pushing a rally car into service and suffered a heart attack, has been commemorated as the national day of Rally Argentina by the country’s government. Accolades rarely come higher than that.
El Condor will count as stages 16 and 18 of this year’s Philips Rally Argentina, round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, and takes place on Sunday 29 April.