El Cóndor retains big climb

Rally Argentina’s (25 - 28 April) classic El Cóndor speed test will again be driven uphill in 2019 after being turned on its head last year to create a memorable rally-closing live TV Power Stage.

The rally’s signature special stage provided stunning images as it crossed iconic hanging bridges, before snaking high into the Traslasierra mountains between giant roadside rocks packed with fans.

The 2018 running marked the first time the test had been run uphill for many years. That format will be retained this season as it opens Sunday’s final leg and then provides the setting for the Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points for the fastest five drivers.

There are no major changes for the first rally of a south American double-header – Argentina is followed by COPEC Rally Chile 11 days later – as the Villa Carlos Paz-based fixture visits the three valleys of the Cordoba province mountains.

A spectacular super special street stage in Carlos Paz opens the action on Thursday night. Competitors journey south on Friday for a virtually unchanged itinerary comprising two loops of fast, sandy stages amid the Calamuchita Valley’s lakeland landscapes.

Saturday heads north-west into the Punilla Valley’s vast pampas plains and hills for a repeated loop of three stages.

Watersplashes are a common sight in Argentina

It features an extended version of the test running to Cuchilla Nevada, which this year starts from Mataderos, to be followed immediately by the 33.65km stage from Cuchilla Nevada to Characato, the longest of the rally.

The loops on both days are separated by a popular super special stage at a theme park on the edge of Carlos Paz and then service at the event’s lakeside hub in the town.

Sunday’s double pass through Copina - El Cóndor is split by the equally classic moonlike landscapes of the Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare stage, which will be reversed from last year.

The 18 stages cover 349.48km in a total route of 1302.51km and the full itinerary can be viewed here.

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