There has always been a passionate affair between me and cars that were bred for rallying, cars that had their roots deeply seated in competition and were not always practical daily commuters. As far back as I can remember I loved these beasts. I was collecting Lancia Stratos pictures when I was only 10 years old. Rally cars and their drivers are constantly defying the laws of physics. These cars' handling abilities are truly amazing. There's no other type of car providing the feeling of invulnerability the four wheel drive turbo charged cars involved in modern rallying provide.
Now, being a bit older, I'm able to get my hands on some of them. I would surely like to own a Lancia Delta S4
even a Ford RS200 but that's way out of line for the moment due to
garage space and obvious financial reasons.
Still I am the happy owner a 1993 Lancia Delta Integrale Evolution II Kat (pictures here), a heavily modified 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth (pictures here), a Ferrari 308 GTB dry-sump (pictures here) and a 1975 Lancia Stratos (pictures here) and they manage to keep me happy all the same. I have previously owned two Mazda 323 4WD turbo16V and two Alfa Romeo GTV6 as well as a heavily modified Lancia Delta Integrale 8V Kat (pictures here), that to say I really have a passionate relation to cars in general with a special preference for Italian bred ones.
This site includes detailed technical descriptions and historic background on cars such as the Subaru Impreza, the Toyota Celica GT4 and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V and VI since these are same types of vehicle (4WD turbo) and, on top, the Impreza has won 3 WRC Championships.
I will try to present, in these pages, as many facts as I can gather on the cars and their history, the reasons behind some of the technical choices applied to them, while attempting to provide you with clues on their capabilities and the joys they offer.
I also present the Mitsubishi Lancer RS evolution IV but have no credit for that since the pages relating it come from Mitsubishi's Web server in Japan. It's still interesting to compare the older Lancia and Ford to this group A rally car. Also available are details on very recent official entries in the FIA World Rally Championship such as the Ford Focus WRC and Peugeot 206 WRC and Seat Cordoba WRC.
Very briefly, rallying is a motor sport in which cars have to get from one place to another in the shortest possible time. Rallies are organized in stages, each stage being made up of several special stages, which are run on everyday roads closed to other traffic during the event. The time it takes a driver to run through each special stage is cumulated to get the total stage time. Between each special stage there are liaison stages which are not included in the overall time. Special stages are run in closed roads. The latest FIA regulations force each WRC event to be run on a single kind of surface (tarmac, gravel, etc.). This eases the choice of tires, gear/differential ratios, etc. and helps keep costs for the contenders within affordable limits.
Of course there are several rules and details which I won't mention here but keep in mind the following:
The fact that rally events take place in normal, everyday roads and that the cars involved in rallying resemble closely, from the outside, to their street counterparts greatly contributes to the sport's popularity. Rally races are extremely popular in Europe, South America and Asia, less so in the US (where people seem to like watching cars go round oval tracks) but efforts do take place in that country to render the sport more popular.
I hope the short list above allows you to get an overall view of what a rally is. If you ever get a chance to seen one, on television or, even better, in situ, don't hesitate. The drivers reach incredible speeds and the excitement, they provide spectators with, is difficult to describe. Especially impressive are the videos shot from inside the cars. When you see one of these you realize why drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Didier Auriol, Juha Kankkunen, Colin McRae, and Tommi Mäkinen, to name but a few, are gifted with abilities that are somehow more than human.
One last world on rallying. The sport is a victim of its own success. Major events, especially in Europe, can gather hundreds of thousands of spectators and fans that populate the borders of the twisty mountain roads to watch their favorite drivers. Under these circumstances security is very difficult to plan and ensure. The officials at FIA are seriously considering deleting some events from the WRC calendar. The next major accident involving spectators will most certainly constitute sufficient excuse for the FIA to go ahead with restricting measures. Please be careful when selecting a place to stand for watching the cars and on top of all drive safely.