Spain’s asphalt is well-liked by competitors. Fast, flowing and smooth, the roads in the hills above the Costa Daurada coast demand a driving style closer to circuit racing than other sealed-surface rounds and a clean and efficient approach is rewarded.
Salou’s PortAventura World theme park remains the hub of the championship’s penultimate round, with the holiday resort’s seafront hosting Thursday evening’s start ceremony.
With asphalt speed tests replacing gravel on Friday, the opening leg heads west and has a new look.
Video: RallyRACC - Rally de España route
Morning and afternoon runs through Vilaplana (20.00km), La Granadella (21.80km) and Riba-roja (14.21km) are split by service in Salou. Some roads are new to the rally while others return after being off the itinerary for many years. The six stages add up to 112.02km.
Saturday’s leg, north-east of Salou, is the longest, containing 117.54km of competition across seven stages.
The format is the same, with Savallà (14.08km), a revised Querol – Les Pobles (19.17km) and the superfast El Montmell (24.40km) driven twice either side of service. The day ends with the fan-favourite seafront test in Salou (2.24km).
Sunday’s finale contains two laps of the well-known Santa Marina and Riudecanyes stages. The first pass of Santa Marina will be extra challenging in darkness. The top viewing point will be the famous Coll de la Teixeta roundabout in Riudecanyes, where drivers complete a 360° donut in front of huge crowds packed on the hillsides.
A mid-leg service divides the loops, with the second pass of Riudecanyes forming the bonus-points paying Wolf Power Stage. A finish podium on the seafront in Salou rounds off the weekend.
The 17 stages cover 280.46km.
• Full coverage from RallyRACC Rally de España will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.