Rally is a form of motorsport that takes place on public or private roads with modified production or specially built road-legal cars. It is distinguished by running not on a circuit , but instead in a point-to-point format in which participants and their co-drivers drive between set control points special stages , leaving at regular intervals from one or more start points.
Rallies may be won by pure speed within the stages or alternatively by driving to a predetermined ideal journey time within the stages.
The term "rally", as a branch of motorsport , probably dates from the first Monte Carlo Rally of January Until the late s, few if any other events used the term. Speeds had now far outstripped the safe limits of dusty highways thronged with spectators and open to other traffic, people and animals; there were numerous crashes, many injuries and eight deaths.
The French government stopped the race and banned this style of event.
Italy had been running road competitions since , when a reliability trial was run from Turin to Asti and back. The country's first true motor race was held in along the shore of Lake Maggiore, from Arona to Stresa and back.
Seventy vehicles took part, the majority of them trade entries. On rest days and at lunch halts, the cars were shown to the public in exhibition halls. In Germany, the Herkomer Trophy was first held in , and again in Another trial was held in These were very successful, attracting top drivers and works cars from major teams — several manufacturers added "Prince Henry" models to their ranges. A second event was held in Two ultra long distance challenges took place at this time.
The Peking-Paris of was not officially a competition, but a "raid", the French term for an expedition or collective endeavour whose promoters, the newspaper "Le Matin", rather optimistically expected participants to help each other; it was 'won' by Prince Scipione Borghese, Luigi Barzini, and Ettore Guizzardi in an Itala.
The New York—Seattle race of , if shorter, was no easier. Rather gentler and more akin to modern rallying was the Glidden Tour , run by the American Automobile Association between and , which had timed legs between control points and a marking system to determine the winners.
The First World War brought a lull to rallying.
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The Monte Carlo Rally was not resuscitated until , but since then, apart from World War II and its aftermath, it has been an annual event and remains a regular round of the World Rally Championship. In the s, helped by the tough winters, it became the premier European rally, attracting or more participants. The most important of these were Austria's Alpenfahrt , which continued into its 44th edition in , Italy's Coppa delle Alpi , and the Coupe Internationale des Alpes International Alpine Trial , organised jointly by the automobile clubs of Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and, latterly, France.
This last event, run from to , attracted strong international fields vying for an individual Glacier Cup or a team Alpine Cup, including successful Talbot , Riley , MG and Triumph teams from Britain and increasingly strong and well funded works representation from Adolf Hitler 's Germany, keen to prove its engineering and sporting prowess with successful marques like Adler , Wanderer and Trumpf.
In Ireland, the first Ulster Motor Rally was run from multiple starting points. It continued in this form until Belgium's Jean Trasenster Bugatti and France's Jean Trevoux Hotchkiss tied for first place, denying the German works teams shortly before their countries were overrun. Rallying was again slow to get under way after a major war, but the s were the Golden Age of the long-distance road rally. This was the premier international championship until , when the FIA created the World Rally Championship for Manufacturers , won that first year by Alpine-Renault.
The Monte, because of its glamour, got the media coverage and the biggest entries and in snowy years was also a genuine challenge ; while the Acropolis took advantage of Greece's appalling roads to become a truly tough event.
These events were road races in all but name, but in Italy such races were still allowed, and the Mille Miglia continued until a serious accident in caused it to be banned. It spawned similar events in a few other countries, but none survive.
The idea spread to other countries, albeit more slowly to the most demanding events. The RAC Rally had formally become an International event in , but Britain's laws precluded the closure of public highways for special stages. This meant it had to rely on short manoeuvrability tests, regularity sections and night map-reading navigation to find a winner, which made it unattractive to foreign crews.
Rallying also took off in Spain and Portugal and by the s had spread to their colonial territories in the mid-Atlantic. By the end of the s events had not only begun in Madeira and the Canary Islands , but also on the far-flung Azores. In countries where there was no shortage of demanding roads across remote terrain, other events sprang up.
Australia's Redex Round Australia Trial also dates from , although this remained isolated from the rest of the rallying world. Canada hosted one of the world's longest and most gruelling rallies in the s, the Shell Rally.
The quest for longer and tougher events saw the re-establishment of the intercontinental rallies beginning with the London—Sydney Marathon held in The rally trekked across Europe, the Middle-East and the sub-continent before boarding a ship in Bombay to arrive in Fremantle eight days later before the final push across Australia to Sydney.
The first was the London to Mexico World Cup Rally which saw competitors travel from London eastwards across to Bulgaria before turning westwards on a more southerly route before boarding a ship in Lisbon.
Disembarking in Rio de Janeiro the route travelled southward into Argentina before turning northwards along the western coast of South America before arriving in Mexico City.
The rally travelled southwards into Africa but a navigational error saw most of the rally become lost in Algerian desert. Eventually only seven teams reached the southernmost point of the rally in Nigeria with five teams making it back to West Germany having driven all legs and only the winning team completing the full distance.
This, coupled with the economic climate of the s the heat went out of intercontinental rallying after a second London—Sydney Marathon in The concept though was revived in for the original Paris-Dakar Rally.
The success of the Dakar would eventually see intercontinental rallying recognised as its own discipline; the Rally Raid. The introduction of the special stage brought rallying effectively into the modern era. It placed a premium on fast driving, and enabled healthy programmes of smaller events to spring up in Britain, France, Scandinavia, Belgium and elsewhere. Since then, the nature of the events themselves has evolved relatively slowly. The increasing costs, both of organization and of competing, as well as safety concerns, have, over the last twenty years, brought progressively shorter rallies, shorter stages and the elimination of nighttime running, scornfully referred to as "office hours rallying" by older hands.
Some of the older international events have gone, replaced by others from a much wider spread of countries around the world, until today rallying is truly a worldwide sport. At the same time, fields have shrunk dramatically, as the amateur in his near-standard car is squeezed out. Gruelling long distance events continued to be run. In , a group of American offroaders created the Mexican Rally, a tough 1,mile race for cars and motorcycles which ran the length of the Baja California peninsula, much of it initially over roadless desert, which quickly gained fame as the Baja , today run by the SCORE organization.
In , a young Frenchman, Thierry Sabine, founded an institution when he organised the first "rallye-raid" from Paris to Dakar, in Senegal, the event now called the Dakar Rally.
From amateur beginnings it quickly became a massive commercial circus catering for cars, motorcycles and trucks, and spawned other similar events. The main change over that period has been in the cars, and in the professionalisation and commercialisation of the sport. Manufacturers had entered works cars in rallies, and in their forerunner and cousin events, from the very beginning: the Paris-Rouen was mainly a competition between them, while the Thousand Mile Trial of had more trade than private entries.
Although there had been exceptions like the outlandish Ford V8 specials created by the Romanians for the Monte Carlo Rally, rallies before World War II had tended to be for standard or near-standard production cars, a rule supported by manufacturers because it created a relatively even playing field.
After the war, most competing cars were production saloons or sports cars , with only minor modifications to improve performance, handling, braking and suspension.
This kept costs down and allowed many more people to afford the sport using ordinary family cars, so entry lists grew into the hundreds.
As public interest grew, car companies started to introduce special models or variants for rallying, such as the British Motor Corporation 's highly successful Mini Cooper , introduced in , and its successor the Mini Cooper S , developed by the Cooper Car Company.
Shortly after, Ford of Britain first hired Lotus to create a high-performance version of their Cortina family car, then in launched the Escort Twin Cam , one of the most successful rally cars of its era. Other manufacturers were not content with modifying their 'bread-and-butter' cars. These makers overcame the rules of FISA as the FIA was called at the time by building the requisite number of these models for the road.
Thus the Audi Quattro was born. International regulations had prohibited four-wheel drive; but FISA accepted that this was a genuine production car, and changed the rules. The Quattro quickly became the car to beat on snow, ice or gravel; and in took Hannu Mikkola to the World Rally Championship title.
Other manufacturers had no production four-wheel drive car on which to base their response, so FISA was persuaded to change the rules, and open the Championship to cars in Group B.
This particular era was not to last. On the Rallye de Portugal , four spectators were killed; then in May, on the Tour de Corse , Henri Toivonen went over the edge of a mountain road and was incinerated in the fireball that followed. FISA immediately changed the rules again: rallying after would be in Group A cars, closer to the production model.
One notably successful car during this period was the Lancia Delta Integrale , dominating world rallying during , , , , and — winning six consecutive world rally championships, a feat yet unbeaten.
Most of the works drivers of the s were amateurs, paid little or nothing, reimbursed their expenses and given bonuses for winning although there were certainly exceptions, such as the Grand Prix drivers who were brought in for some events. Then in came arguably the first rallying superstar and one of the first to be paid to rally full-time , Sweden's Erik Carlsson , driving for Saab.
In the s, the competitions manager of BMC, Stuart Turner, hired a series of brave and gifted young Finns, skills honed on their country's highly competitive gravel or snow rallies, and the modern professional driver was born. As special stage rallying spread around the world Scandinavian drivers were challenged by drivers from Italy, Germany, Britain, Spain and elsewhere. There are two main forms: stage rallies and road rallies.
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Since the s, stage rallies have been the professional branch of the sport. They are based on straightforward speed over stretches of road closed to other traffic.
These may vary from asphalt mountain passes to rough forest tracks, from ice and snow to desert sand, each chosen to provide an enjoyable challenge for the crew and a test of the car's performance and reliability.
The entertaining and unpredictable nature of the stages, and the fact that the vehicles are in some cases closely related to road cars, means that the bigger events draw massive spectator interest, especially in Europe, Asia and Oceania. Road rallies are the original form, held on highways open to normal traffic, where the emphasis is not on outright speed but on accurate timekeeping and navigation and on vehicle reliability, often on difficult roads and over long distances.
They are now primarily amateur events.
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There are several types of road rallies testing accuracy, navigation or problem solving. Some common types are: Regularity rally or a Time-Speed-Distance rally also TSD rally, testing ability to stay on track and on time ,  others are Monte-Carlo styles Monte Carlo, Pan Am, Pan Carlo, Continental rally testing navigation and timing , and various Gimmick rally types testing logic and observation.
Many early rallies were called trials, and a few still are, although this term is now mainly applied to the specialist form of motor sport of climbing as far as you can up steep and slippery hills. And many meets or assemblies of car enthusiasts and their vehicles are still called rallies, even if they involve merely the task of getting there often on a trailer.
Rallying is a very popular sport at the "grass roots" of motorsport—that is, motor clubs.
Individuals interested in becoming involved in rallying are encouraged to join their local automotive clubs. Club rallies e. These skills are important fundamentals required for anyone who wishes to progress to higher-level events.
See Categories of rallies.
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Short special stage practice events on public roads are in some countries organized by the local clubs, with a permission of the local police, the community normally using the road, and the road authority. The public road is closed during these by the organisers or the police. Rallying is also unique in its choice of where and when to race.