What is the World Rally Championship?

 The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is an epic adventure which pits drivers and co-drivers in production-based cars against the toughest and most varied conditions on the planet.

Ott Tanak in a Toyota Yaris World Rally Car (WRC) at Rally Finland

The championship began in 1973 and features 13 gruelling rallies across four continents. Drivers must master conditions as varied as ice-bound tracks in Sweden, rock-strewn mountain passes in Argentina and bumpy asphalt vineyard roads in Germany.

How a rally works


Each rally features a series of timed closed-road speed tests, known as special stages, which typically number between 15 and 25.

Drivers tackle these stages, which range from 2km to 50km, at two-minute intervals and are timed to a tenth of a second. The co-driver reads highly detailed pace notes to the driver which portray an image of the road ahead, including hazards, corners and road surface, and in which gear they should be approached.

Competitors drive on liaison sections to and from each stage on public roads, observing normal traffic regulations.

Recce & Shakedown

Most rallies follow the same basic itinerary. This starts with two days of reconnaissance on Tuesday and Wednesday, where driver and co-driver practise the route at limited speed to make pace notes in a unique form of shorthand.

It is followed by a Thursday morning shakedown, a short test session over a typical special stage when competitors put the final touches to the set-up of their rally cars.


Rallies usually begin with a Thursday evening start ceremony with the competition itself running from Friday morning through to Sunday lunchtime. The rally ends with a live TV Power Stage at midday on Sunday.


During each day competitors visit a service park at pre-determined times to allow technicians to perform mechanical work on the cars and change tyres. Service is strictly limited, ranging from 10 to 45 minutes, with penalties imposed if competitors spend longer than the allocated time in service.

Away from the service park, only the driver and co-driver can work on their car, using only tools and spare parts carried onboard.

World Rally Drivers on the winners podium

Penalties and Points

Competitors must adhere to a strict time-table and penalties are applied if they arrive late or early at checkpoints throughout the event. The crew that completes all the stages in the shortest time is the winner.

Points are allocated to the top ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 basis and are awarded to registered teams in the same way. Bonus points are awarded to the fastest three drivers through the Power Stage.

More general rally FAQ's here