What is meant by reconnaissance?

This is the observation and measurement of the special stages on Tuesday and Wednesday before the rally. In the past, reconnaissance was unrestricted. Today it is limited to 2 low-speed timed runs per stage, controlled by GPS.

What are cars 000, 00 and 0 for ?

These are safety cars that travel along the rally itinerary ahead of the competitors. Their mission is to warn the spectators of the imminent arrival of the first competition car. These “forerunner” cars have the numbers 000, 00 and 0 on their doors. They pass between ½ hour and 5 minutes before the first competitor.

What is a Super special stage ?

This is a short timed stage run in a town or stadium. It is a “spectacle” stage designed to attract people less familiar with the sport in greater numbers. Cars race in pairs on two parallel tracks. The times achieved count toward the overall classification.

What is a service area ?

In rallying, the service area is the nerve center, like the pits at a race track. It is the place where all the teams, motor-homes, support vehicles, technical staff, etc. come together.

The service area is the one and only place where the mechanics are allowed to work on the car. Each crew visits the service area on average three or four times a day. Each service team is composed of mechanics and engineers. Pit-stop times vary from 10 to 30 minutes, usually enough time to change the transmission, the brakes, the suspension, the tyres, etc. If the repair exceeds the allotted time, the team is penalized.

The service area is also the only place where the cars can have new tyres fitted. At the service area, tyres are selected for special stages located many miles away to be run several hours later. Changes in the weather must therefore be anticipated.


What is the co-driver’s role ?

During the timed stages, the co-driver reads the notes he took during reconnaissance. He is also responsible for time-keeping on the link stages and getting his logbook “stamped” at each time checkpoint. If he loses the logbook the crew is disqualified!

How does one become a professional rally driver ?

Driving schools cannot confer professional driver status. The best of the current rally drivers all took the same route: they started at the wheel of “lesser” cars in regional competitions before entering more important championships and being “spotted” by team bosses.


What categories of rally cars are there ?

Automobiles are grouped in various categories, depending on their equipment, power, etc. There are four main categories: WRC (World Rally Cars), S2000, Group A and Group N.

• “World Rally Car”

These are true prototypes developed by car manufacturers. 2-liter engines, 16 valves, turbo producing more than 300 horsepower. They have 4-wheel-drive, sequential transmission, special shock absorbers, extra-large brakes, etc. Estimated price: 1 million euros. They take part in the World Championship and are accepted in some national championships.

Examples: Ford Focus, Citroën C4, Citroën Xsara, Subaru Impreza, Suzuki XR4, etc.

• S2000

Very high-performance car but less highly-developed (and less costly) than WRC cars. They have 2-liter normally-aspirated engines giving approximately 230 horsepower, with 4-wheel-drive and sequential transmission. These cars are sold in kit form (150,000 – 200,000€). They dominate the IRC championship. Examples: Peugeot 207, Abarth Grande Punto, VW Polo, etc.

• Super 1600

More basic cars: 1600 cm3 engine developing approximately 200 horsepower, 2-wheel-drive only, sequential transmission, etc. Cost: around 100,000€. They are found in IRC and national championships. Examples: Citroën C2, Renault Clio, Suzuki Swift, etc.

• Group A

Cars specially prepared (engine, chassis) for competition, sorted into various classes according to their engine capacity (A7, A6, A5 or R1, R2 and R3 according to the regulations). Some car manufacturers have selected these models for their official entry into the sport (e.g. Honda in IRC, Renault in various national championships, etc.).

• Group N

Nearly standard cars. The only modifications permitted have to do with safety (roll bar, safety harness, etc.) and the reinforcement of certain mechanical parts (transmission, suspension, etc.). Group N cars are divided into various classes according to engine capacity (N4, N3, etc.). On some surfaces they can compete with S2000 cars. Examples: Mitsubishi Lancer, Subaru Impreza, etc.

Cross Country Rallying


Temporary camp where competitors meet at the end of a stage.


More or less dried-up lake, often salty, looking like a plowed field in which the vehicles sink.


Vast expanse covered with dunes.

Marathon stage

Stage on the eve of which no work is permitted on the competitors’ vehicles.


An Arabic word for dried mud having the consistency of talc. Very soft and powdery ground in which vehicles sink deeply.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

Satellite location system enabling the exact position of a place to be known.


Place in a river where it is possible to wade across.


Route outside marked trails.

“Off-road excursionr”

Term indicating that the co-driver has hopelessly lost his place in the road book.


River bed in arid regions only full of water when it rains.


Amateur competitor taking part in an all-terrain rally. Destined to work hard!


Short-distance stage run before the official start of an all-terrain rally. It often determines the starting order of the competitors.


Flat stony expanse.

Road book

Document given to competitors by the organizers describing the route of a stage.


Safety warning system designed to assist overtaking between cars and motorcycles, and between cars . This system is highly recommended in Cross Country Rallying, because it has reduced accidents caused by the fact that motorcycle riders about to be overtaken do not hear the horn of the car which is following them. Therefore they are not aware of the vehicle behind them, or too late. Similarly, an car that wants to overtake in the dust of another car is often not visible in the mirrors. This causes a “tailback” which may last a long time, until someone tries to overtake off-road…sometimes ending in a somersault.