WRC Lexicon

Every sport has its own jargon and the World Rally Championship is no exception. If you’re baffled by rallyspeak, check out this glossary. If you come across a term that’s not here, let us know and we will see if we can add it.

Aerodynamics 
WRC cars have spoilers, splitters and other shaped panels on the bodywork to direct cool air around the engine, gearbox and brakes and help keep the car firmly on the road – or flying level – at high speed.

ALS 
Anti-Lag System, which keeps a car’s turbocharger spinning to ensure there is always turbo boost.

Ceremonial start 
Usually held on a Thursday evening when crews drive onto a podium, greet the fans and give a short interview before making way for the next car. Ceremonial starts often take place against spectacular backdrops or in the centre of the host city.

Co-driver 
The navigator in the passenger seat who gives a running commentary through an intercom to the driver about directional changes and road conditions ahead.

Dampers 
An essential part of a rally car’s suspension. Each car has four – one connected to each wheel hub. Dampers absorb bumps in the road and keep the tyres in contact with the surface as often as possible.

Damper Settings 
Rally car dampers are adjustable to provide different characteristics. At the simplest level they can be soft or hard, but other factors like rebound or ride-height can also be altered. Drivers are able to adjust damper settings between stages. The degree of change is usually measured in ‘clicks’ of the adjuster wheel.

Driver Safety 
The crew sits inside a super-strong protective cell surrounded by a roll cage. They strap themselves in with six-point wide-strap safety belts, similar to those used in military fighter planes. The car also features side-impact protection and has an automatic fire extinguisher system and the crew wear flameproof overalls and underwear, safety helmets and a head and neck support system (see HANS device).

Driveshaft 
The part of the transmission which transfers drive from the front or rear differential to the wheel. Each four-wheel drive rally car has four.

FIA
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the Paris-based governing body for worldwide motorsport which regulates and controls the World Rally Championship.

Flying Finish
The end of a stage where the timing stops.

Gravel crews
On asphalt rallies, priority drivers are supported by a safety crew which passes through the stages in advance of the competitors to report back on weather and surface condition, which may have changed following reconnaissance.

Junior WRC
The WRC’s young talent series, formerly called the WRC Academy. 

Remote Service
A service period that takes place away from the service park at an outside location. Only parts carried in the rally car itself can be changed.

Restrictor
To limit engine output, the FIA requires all WRC-specification engines to be fitted with a 33mm diameter inlet restrictor which limits the flow of fuel/air to the combustion chambers. Without a restrictor, engines would produce more than 500bhp.

Road Book
A set of instructions and route maps issued to each crew by rally organisers.

Road Section
Sometimes called a liaison section, this is the public road which links the special stages, service points and parc fermé. Drivers must obey all applicable traffic laws on road sections.

Roll Cage 
A structure of high carbon steel tubes welded inside the passenger compartment designed to keep the driver and co-driver safe in an impact or roll-over.

Running Order
The order in which competitors tackle the stages. The running order (also called the start order) for the opening two days is determined by the drivers’ championship standings, with the leader going first. On day three, crews tackle the stages in the rally classification reversed – with the leader going last. This seeding applies to Priority 1 and 2 drivers only. Priority 1 cars that retire and restart the next day run before all the P1 and P2 crews.

Safety Crews 
On asphalt rallies, priority drivers are supported by a safety crew which passes through the stages in advance of the competitors to report back on weather and surface condition, which may have changed following reconnaissance. Sometimes called gravel crews.

Scrutineers
FIA-sanctioned technical officials who check the legality of WRC cars before, during and after each event.

Sequential Gearbox
The type fitted to most WRC cars. Gear selections are typically made by a steering wheel-mounted paddle rather than the traditional 'H' gate manual system typically found on production cars.

Service
There are usually three service periods during a WRC day – 15 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at lunchtime and 45 minutes in the evening. Teams can perform repairs or modifications to cars during these periods, and select their tyre choice for the following loop of stages.

Set-up
The choice of tyres and suspension adjustments to give a WRC car maximum performance.

Shakedown 
The opportunity for crews to test their competition cars on terrain similar to the rally before the event starts. Competitors must drive through the shakedown stage at least three times, with all passes timed.

Stages 
The competitive sections of the rally, also called special stages, where drivers and co-drivers drive as fast as they can to complete the section in the shortest time possible.

Stage Time
The time recorded from the standing start of a stage to the flying finish.

Start order
See running order

Stewards
The three-strong panel of officials who ensure the smooth running of each WRC event. The Chairman and one member are appointed by the FIA and must be of a different nationality from that of the organising country. The third member is appointed by the ASN of the country organising the rally. Stewards have the power to make changes to events and apply penalties if rules are broken. Bulletins and decisions of the Stewards are posted on an official noticeboard at every rally.

Stop Control 
A point 200-500 metres past the flying finish where the car must stop to have its time recorded.

Studs
Metal spikes fitted to the treads of winter tyres to give grip on snow and ice.

Super-Special Stage (SSS)
A stage – often set up in a sports stadium – with two parallel tracks that enable two drivers to race each other. Super-special stages are also run in city centre locations.

Target Time 
The official time allowed for a WRC car to complete a non-competitive road section. Time penalties are applied if competitors check-in earlier or later than their target time.

Time Card 
Carried by the co-driver, the time card is a record of stage times and time control arrival times throughout the rally. The card is stamped by officials as the rally progresses and provides proof of a competitor’s whereabouts in case of a dispute.

Time Control 
The place where cars must stop to get an official passing time recorded by rally officials.

Time Penalty
Rally crews are penalised 10 seconds for every minute the car is late to a time control – for instance a stage start, service-in control, service-out control. Checking-in early to a time control carries a stiffer penalty of one minute for every minute early.

Turbocharger 
An exhaust-driven turbine that pressurises the fuel/air mixture into the engine to enable it to develop more power. All WRC cars use turbochargers (turbos) which develop 4-5 times the pressure of the turbo on a road car.

WRC 2 
WRC 2 is the leading support series (Manufacturer) to the FIA World Rally Championship. The WRC 2 Champion titles for Teams, Drivers and Co-Drivers will be awarded to the team, driver and co-driver who have scored the highest number of points from 6 of the first 7 rallies which they have entered to score points. On the remaining rallies they may neither score nor detract points from other registered drivers. 

WRC 3 
WRC 3 is the support series (Private Teams) to the FIA World Rally Championship. The WRC 3 Champion titles for Teams, Drivers and Co-Drivers will be awarded to the team, driver and co-driver who have scored the highest number of points from 6 of the first 7 rallies which they have entered to score points. On the remaining rallies they may neither score nor detract points from other registered drivers.

WRC Promoter
WRC Promoter GmbH is a joint company of Red Bull Media House and KW25. It is responsible for all commercial aspects of the FIA World Rally Championship, including broadcast formats, TV production and the marketing of global media and sponsorship rights. WRC Promoter also has responsibility to increase the field of participants and to propose the venues that form the FIA WRC calendar.

Yellow flag
An emergency warning system used by organisers to instruct competitors to immediately reduce speed. The flags may be waved on stage by marshals at radio points (situated at approximately 5 km intervals). Additionally, a yellow flag LED light situated on the FIA Emergency Console in every competing car will flash and an alarm will sound in the cockpit. Crews must confirm acknowledgement of the electronic Yellow Flag by pressing the OK button as soon as they see it and must immediately reduce speed and maintain this until the stage end. A crew which has been shown the yellow flag will be given a notional time for the stage.

Zero Car
A course car driven through a stage before the competitors start to alert spectators that the section is live. The zero car is preceded by the triple zero and double zero cars.