Tue 25 Oct 2022

View from the Service Park: Spain

With the whiff of Ambre Solaire hanging heavy in the air and the buffet breakfasts in full flow up and down the Costa Daurada, it’s almost impossible not to catch the sense of a sneaky holiday atmosphere around the RallyRACC Catalunya service park.

And why not? Based out of the PortAventura holiday park in Salou, the penultimate round of the season is an obvious one to combine business with pleasure.

Families from across Europe make the trip to the Spanish seaside to enjoy some autumn sunshine as well as the best of the World Rally Championship action.

The atmosphere in the service park is one of the best of the season – especially once the drivers start needling each other at the evening’s meet the crews sessions. Sadly, local hero and driving God of these parts Dani Sordo didn’t make the end of leg top-three positions to qualify for a seat in front of the packed crowd. Predictably, he’s a huge hit.

That warmth and appreciation was saved for the three next best things in the eyes of the Spanish fans: Sébastien Ogier, Thierry Neuville and Kalle Rovanperä. And as usual, they were superb value. They didn’t disappoint.

As usual, the stages in the hills of Tarragona were packed. Fires were going from early morning and the chainsaw motors and airhorns filled the silence between the aural delight of Rally1 cars.

As usual, Saturday night’s Salou downtown stage delivered a mixture of shock and awe. Rally fans were, as you can imagine, delighted with what was on offer as the cars picked their way through arguably the season’s most tricky and pitfall laden two-and-a-bit kilometres.

The holidaymakers were baffled by the fences, then shocked – and delighted – by what they saw beyond them. As an introduction to the World Rally Championship, the full force of a 500-plus horsepower rally car going off the line in sight of the sea is hard to beat.

And, of course, once the serious stuff’s done, it’s time to go and see Danny. Going anywhere other than Salou’s noisiest Irish bar for a post-rally beer would just seem all wrong.

In Danny Boy on Sunday night, everything was alright.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM