RallyRACC - Rally de España
|RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España|
|Stages:||17 (325,56 km)|
- Unique round of the WRC as the championship’s only mixed surface encounter. Medium-speed gravel roads contrast with smooth, fast, circuit-like asphalt. Teams switch cars from gravel to asphalt specification following Friday’s opening leg.
- After Thursday evening’s start ceremony on Salou seafront, Friday’s gravel leg heads west and features three stages driven morning and afternoon and split by service at the PortAventura theme park in Salou.
- Horta - Bot is a new name but familiar roads and is sandwiched by Gandesa and La Fatarella – Vilalba, which were both driven last year. The latter, at 38.85km the longest of the weekend, includes several asphalt sections and surface changes.
- The second and third legs are entirely on sealed surfaces. Saturday journeys north-east and uses identical roads to 2018. Two loops of three stages are followed by a fan favourite test on Salou seafront.
- Sunday’s finale contains two laps of the Riudecanyes and La Mussara stages. A mid-leg service divides the loops.
- La Fatarella - Vilalba was only driven for the first time last year but immediately became a favourite. It borrows 23km from the classic Terra Alta test and is fiendishly difficult. Constant changes from gravel to asphalt and undulating roads tax drivers and tired tyres, and who masters the 6.6km sealed surface section up to the midpoint proves decisive.
- Only mixed surface round of the season as two days of asphalt are blended with a day of primarily gravel.
- After Friday’s action the mechanics take centre stage as they race to convert their cars from gravel to asphalt specification in a longer than usual evening service to accommodate the surface change.
- Drivers must quickly adapt their driving style to an overnight change in road surface.
- Fast, smooth, sweeping asphalt is comparable to a race circuit in its characteristics.
- First run in 1957 and included in the European Championship from 1975.
- Entered the WRC in 1991 when it was based on the Costa Brava in Lloret de Mar.
- Relocated to Salou in 2002 and after being a pure asphalt event, it developed into a mixed surface event in 2010.
- Sébastien Loeb dominated the rally, winning every year between 2005 and 2012.
- Both asphalt and gravel set-up required for the mixed roads.
- Different tyres are needed for the two surfaces.
- Asphalt is abrasive and if temperatures are hot, drivers must manage tyre wear carefully.
What’s new for 2019
Salou seafront provides a picturesque backdrop to Thursday night’s opening ceremony
- Sunday’s La Mussara stage has not been used since 2014 and will be driven in the opposite direction to five years ago. The second pass forms the Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points for the top five drivers.
- Salou – part 1. The aggressive, mean and moody World Rally Cars will be lined up on the seafront ahead of Thursday evening’s start ceremony. Perfect for a close-up look at these new-generation monsters. The WRC drivers will meet fans, sign autographs and pose for pictures ahead of the start. Get your selfie stick out!
- Salou – part 2. Two days later the stars and cars will be in action in the same area for a technical 2.24km street test beside the beach on Saturday evening. It starts at the marina and heads towards the centre on roads made slippery by sand.
- Spectate in La Fatarella - Vilalba on Friday afternoon. Tyres overworked by the constant changes from gravel to asphalt and back again, and the prospect of high temperatures mean the rubber could be in less than perfect condition for this final stage of the day. Entertainment guaranteed.
- Plan a trip to the PortAventura service park on the edge of Salou. Cars are serviced there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and when you have seen enough of that, a visit to the roller-coasters in the adjacent theme park will round off a perfect day.