This is the seventh consecutive year that the RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España will run a mixed itinerary of Tarmac and gravel stages.
And while much of this year's route is familiar territory for WRC regulars, we noticed a few interesting changes during the pre-event recce.
Here's what we saw when we took to the stages on Monday:
Looser than last year? Sébastien Ogier reckons so. And from inside the wrc.com recce car, Friday's gravel stages certainly seemed more slippery than last year. Many have been widened and re-surfaced too. There are route tweaks as well. The picture below shows the old start point in Terra Alta. This is now the 3.27km point after a new section was added before it.
Fewer messy cuts
Terra Alta is Friday's longest challenge and the only gravel stage to also feature an extended run on Tarmac. In previous editions, this 6km sealed surface section quickly became dirty and slippery as drivers cut corners and dragged gravel onto the road. That should be a thing of the past now that most of the corner apexes have been covered with concrete. Cut a corner now and nothing will get dragged on. Which is good news for cars running down the start order.
The reverse view
The most significant changes to this year's itinerary occur on Saturday, when two stages make a return from previous years - with a twist. 'Vilaplana' (6.28 km), is one of the stages billed as new, even though the road is familiar as the last 6.28 km of 'La Mussara' from 2014, but run in the opposite direction. It's a similar story with 'Alcover-Capafonts' (19.93 km) which was run in 2015 as 'Capafonts' in reverse.
Wet and dry
Weather-wise, it looks like being an unsettled week in the hills of Tarragona, and that was reflected in the conditions on the recce. Tuesday was dry and bright but Wednesday's recce - of Saturday's stages - was done in the rain. How much the rain will affect things remains to be seen. On our pass through Terra Alta, the water splash at 28km was bone dry. With more rain forecast for Thursday, it might be a different story by Friday.