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The WRC rules

THE WRC RULES: GUARANTEED TO DELIVER SUSPENSE AND DIVERSITY
Wolfsburg, 05 May 2011

The World Rally Championship lives up to its name. It visits venues around the whole world. Whether it is held in Australia, Mexico or Jordan – the World Rally Championship follows the same rules everywhere. But how does a WRC round work? What happens on a race weekend? How many points are awarded to the winner? The following overview of the Sporting Regulations provides the answers.

While in circuit racing series such as Formula 1 or the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup all the entrants start to the race at the same time and the winner is the first one to cross the finish line, the principle in rally racing differs. The drivers do not race directly against each other but, firstly, against the clock. The driver with the shortest overall time, which represents the aggregate of all the times set in the single special stages, is the winner.

Preparation is of paramount importance: the roadbook prepares the ground for fast times
The sequence of events is very similar at any WRC round. The driver and the co-driver prepare a write-up – the so-called roadbook – during a two-day pre-tour of the route. During the shakedown, the day before the official start of the rally, the teams have a final practice session in competitive conditions. The actual rally run consists of several special stages. The distance of a ­single special is not prescribed by the regulations. Since 2010 the night specials, which are particularly popular with the spectators, have been permitted again. In addition, the FIA, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, has introduced the so-called power stage. On this particularly spectacular special stage the three teams setting the fastest times are rewarded with bonus points for the WRC classification.

Stage by stage: each rally is precisely synchronised
A rally consists of 15 to 25 special stages, which are spread over two to four days. The total distance of a rally is 300 to 500 kilometres. Up to four stages form a so-called loop which is typically driven twice per day. Between all the specials the entrants drive liaison stages. These sections of the route are driven on public roads and take the contenders from one special stage to the next. Although they are not timed, the drivers are instructed to maintain a specified average. If they fail to do so, time penalties may be imposed. At the beginning and at the end of the day and between two loops the teams have the opportunity to perform repair and set-up work at special service points. The time allotted for this is also strictly limited. Overnight the cars are parked in the parc fermé, a designated restricted area.

The teams consecutively start to a special stage. On the first day of the rally the standings in the WRC classification determine the starting order. The WRC front runner goes out first. From the second day on, the entrants start according to the overall standings of the respective rally, with the overall leader starting to the race first.

In case of an accident the mechanics have the opportunity to recover the vehicle and to repair it overnight. However, the chassis and engine may not be changed. The Sporting Regulations also set forth general limitations and prescribed mileages for certain components. After a repair, the entrant continues to drive the vehicle under the so-called SupeRally regulations, which allows them to score further points. For each special stage that has been missed due to an accident on the previous day, five penalty minutes are added to the overall time.

Well-known system: points are awarded as in Formula 1
The winner of a WRC rally is awarded 25 points. The drivers finishing in the next nine places receive 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points, respectively. The same system is also used for the races of the three other FIA World Championships: Formula 1, World Touring Car Championship and GT1. The three fastest teams on the “power stage” are awarded 3, 2 and 1 points, respectively. The driver who has scored the largest number of points at the end of the season is the world champion. The same point system leads to the title win in the co-drivers’ and the constructors’ championship. A manufacturer has to enter at least two World Rally Cars and contest the entire WRC season in order to be able to submit an entry for the constructors’ championship. A team has to field one or two cars of the same make and contest at least seven rallies, two of which must be outside of Europe, in order to be able to score points for the constructors’ championship.

Not every team that contests a WRC round is allowed to score points. Only vehicles of certain classes are eligible for the respective classifications. The up to eleven classes result from the car models and the engines used. The World Rally Cars (WRC) represent the top class. The WRC cars and their drivers can score points for the official World Rally Championship. The ­so-called Production World Championship (P-WRC, seven rallies in 2011) and the Super-2000 World Championship (S-WRC, eight rallies) hold all of their rounds together with the WRC. Drivers and vehicles of other classes are eligible for points in these two supporting series. The field, which may include up to 100 entrants, is supplemented by privateer drivers and ‘local heroes’ who may just have the wish of participating in a World Rally Championship round for once in their life.

[Source: Volkswagen Motorsport]

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