El Cóndor……there are few locations on the WRC’s global tour that match Xion Rally Argentina’s signature speed test for spectacle.
Quite simply, it is one of the sport’s classic settings. A place where, for drivers, vital points can be won or lost and, for fans, a special stage that is right at the top of any serious spectator’s bucket list.
We dig deep to give you a special fact-fest on the iconic special stage which is the crown jewel in Argentina’s itinerary.
• Sunday in Argentina is all about the 16.43km Copina - El Cóndor. The final leg features just three stages and two of those are on El Condor’s rugged roads. The first pass opens the day’s action at 09.08 while the second run forms the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage at 12.18.
• Located high in the Traslasierra mountains, El Cóndor boasts stunning views in good weather, but fog and rain transform it into hell. And if the weather gods are really in a bad mood, then there could be snow and ice.
• It is driven uphill for a second consecutive year, starting on smooth and wide roads before climbing 746 metres to the finish via three famous iron bridges which hang from canyons. It tops out in excess of a breath-taking 2100 metres above sea level.
• The road becomes increasingly rough and the test ends by snaking around massive rocks, which offer remarkable vantage points for precariously perched fans.
• Such is the fervour for El Cóndor that spectators pitch their tents and camp out several days before the rally arrives to ensure a prime viewing position. It’s not warm but once the asados (barbeques) are under way and the alcohol starts flowing, the atmosphere sizzles as much as the cooking meat.
• In 2017, El Cóndor was the setting for one of the WRC’s closest finishes. Thierry Neuville overturned a 0.6sec deficit to edge longtime leader Elfyn Evans by just 0.7sec in a pulsating finale. Only two rounds have been decided by a smaller margin in the WRC’s 47-year history.