Motor rallying is a branch of motorsport characterized by high-powered competition cars driven through twisty, rock-strewn forest or desert tracks at unbelievable speeds. Conditions vary from searing desert heat to Arctic cold, in daylight or darkness. The competitors face conditions unimaginable to the average motorist. The competitive sections of the route are called "special stages". These sections are closed to public traffic. The rally cars are started off in one- or two-minute intervals. From a timed start to a "flying finish", the cars race against the clock, the grueling conditions and the elements. The competitors' aim is to complete the special stages in the least time possible. The special stages are connected by non-competitive sections called "transit / transport sections". Transit sections are usually public roads open to all traffic. Competitors must obey all traffic regulations on transit sections.
The lexical definition of the word "rally" is "to bring together for a common purpose". It is from this definition that the name of what is now one of the most popular forms of motorsport evolved. The first motor rally took place in France. It was an endurance event with the main competitive stages held running from Paris to Lausanne. Competitors from all over Europe took part in this event, so, "concentration stages" were held, which were basically transit sections from various surrounding European countries ending in Paris, where the actual competition began. It was from the idea of bringing together, or "concentrating", people in one place for a common purpose that the term "motor rallying" evolved.
Internationally, rallying is a highly professional and expensive form of motorsport. Major automobile manufacturers use rallying as a test-bed for new and future technologies that eventually make their way into production vehicles. Compared to cars of other forms of automobile racing, rally cars, being based on production vehicles, are recognizable, and relate directly to showroom models. As a result it is easy to relate competition success to sales success as depicted in the Motor Industry's slogan "win on Sunday, sell on Monday".
A rally team consists of a driver, navigator and a service crew. The driver's job is to drive through the special stages as fast as possible while preserving the car. The navigator's job is primarily to guide the driver using route instructions and navigation equipment. The service crew follows its own course to meet the competing crew on transit sections or designated service areas where they re-fuel the rally car and perform any necessary repairs within an allotted time.
For information on World Championship and International rallying visit FIA, the sanctioning body for WRC and International rallying.
For information on the Rally America National Championship Series and the United States Rally Championship visit the Rally America and the USRC websites respectively.
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