It’s that same car, simply covered in mud. Mud is what we do in rallying. Not for the FIA World Rally Championship, the super-clean circuit racing neat and tidiness. The world of rallying takes crews and cars away from the norm, off the beaten track and way out into the wilderness. And the wilderness is muddy.
There’s different kinds of WRC mud, as well. There’s the Monte Carlo-style mud, which is a less intense, more road salt-based dirt. Or there was the dusty mud collected in Kenya; or the bright red of Perth’s Western Australian stages.
Then there’s the really good stuff; the stuff that comes from between the trees. This is what you get at the end of a wet run through Dyfi or Resolfen.
Standing at the end of a stage like that, you can’t even see the drivers - the windows are so thoroughly caked in the stuff. Before the days of jet washes and central service, one of the best jobs at a roadside re-fettle was to run the sponge over the main sponsor’s decals and the doorplate on the side on the cars.
Another end of stage bonus is the smell. Didn’t you know you could smell it? You can. As the mud settles on the hot exhaust, it produces a classic rally aroma.
Good stuff that mud.