Thursday | 23 Feb 2017

The best WRC city stages

The WRC is more rugged wilderness than urban adventure, but there are times when the competition has headed downtown for a taste of city life. Next month's Rally Guanajuato Mexico however takes things to a whole new level.

Organisers expect the rally opening Super Special in México City's Zócalo Square will attract 200,000 rally fans. And with Mexico City one of the world’s largest conurbations, that sounds about right. In other words, Thursday 9 March is shaping up to be one of the biggest occasions in WRC history.

Ready for some WRC city action? Here's a look back at four of our favourite trips so far.

1: Barcelona, Spain 
For the last three years, the noise of World Rally Cars at full cry has reverberated around the streets of central Barcelona during the opening stage of RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España. The 3.20km stage is located in the lower section of the Montjuic hill on roads that used to host the Spanish Grand Prix. It starts and finishes on the Avenida Reina Maria Cristina and circles the famous Magic Fountain [above] with a 360 degree doughnut in front of the spectacular Palau Nacional building. It's difficult too - just ask seasoned urban stunt driver Ken Block who clattered his Fiesta RS against a barrier there in 2014.

2. Perth, Australia
The daddy of the modern-day Super Special, Perth's head-to-head stage in Langley Park ran for 11 years between 1991 and 2002 and set the standard by which others were judged. Check out the video below. Located on the banks of the Swan River, a short walk from the city centre and overlooked by most team hotels, the stage took five weeks to build and used more than 20,000 cubic metres of sand and clay. There was grandstand seating for the thousands of spectators who enjoyed three nights of entertainment including the insane Holden vs. Ford V8 Ute Challenge, which tended to end with one of the cars wedged in the Qantas tunnel.

3. Athens, Greece
On 13 August 2004, the Olympic Games returned to Greece for the XXVIII Olympiad. In 2005 and 2006 the WRC staged its own sporting extravaganza by building a Super Special stage inside the 70,000 seater Athens Olympic Stadium. The organisers of the Acropolis Rally of Greece pulled out all the stops, creating a tight and twisty asphalt stage with crossover jump and tunnel in the same space that 12 months earlier has hosted the stars of track and field. Pre-stage entertainment included historic rally cars and Red Bull aerobatic pilot who managed a low pass over the stage between the grandstands.

4. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The worlds of football and WRC collided in 2007 when a stage was held at the River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires. It was an ambitious exercise that involved moving cars, drivers and support staff 700km from the rally base in Cordoba for just one stage in the country's capital. The stage was a huge success, but severe storms delayed flights on the return leg and led to the cancelation of most of the next day's stages. It hasn't been repeated since.

More News