The most scenic backdrops – from the snow-capped French Alps to the great plains of Kenya, via the frozen wastes of Sweden and sweltering Middle Eastern deserts – plus jaw-dropping action at three-figure speeds and the most fearless drivers on the planet… Is there a more speculator form of motorsport than rallying?
Rallying takes its name from the verb rally, meaning to come together or assemble in a place. That’s because the earliest rallies saw competitors from across entire continents drive thousands of miles to gather at a final destination. These events were great feats of endurance and navigation rather than tests of raw speed, the most famous of them being the Monte Carlo Rally.
In a sporting context, the word rally today most often refers to sprint rallies or cross-country events such as the Dakar Rally. Sprint rallying, specifically the World Rally Championship, is where the best-funded teams and the most skilled drivers ply their trade. The WRC was inaugurated in 1973 and since then, through the Group B, Group A and World Rally Car eras, drivers like Walter Rohrl, Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen, Colin McRae, Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier have made themselves famous around the world, while car manufacturers such as Audi, Ford, Lancia, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Toyota and, more recently, Hyundai have competed in the WRC to build their brands.
Drivers and co-drivers are timed against the stopwatch on special stages, which on a sprint rally may be just a couple of miles long, or on a cross-country rallying some hundreds of miles from start to finish. While co-drivers deliver pacenotes to describe the route in tremendous detail, drivers use their skill and judgement to tread that perilous tightrope between driving too cautiously and falling behind their competitors, and pushing too hard and risking car damage or, much worse, an enormous crash.
The Intercooler’s rally coverage looks back to the sport’s fascinating past as much as its thrilling present. From historic events for much older machines to the likes of the Dakar Rally, where the most modern and sophisticated off-road cars compete, and, of course, the World Rally Championship, we write evocative stories about the events, people and cars that have left their mark on rallying – and about the bewitching skill of the crews who fling their rally cars over rocky paths, forest tracks, sand dunes, mountain passes and icy roads at well beyond 100mph.