The other side of Rally Argentina

The Rally Argentina is gone, but it left a nice memory for the Cordoban fans that will not be easily forgotten: Carlos Sainz's 26th victory at the wheel of the Citroen Xsara -- possibly in the last visit of the Spanish veteran driver to the sierra of C?rdoba -- was the perfect result for a perfect competition.

Fans watch the cars in action in the Pampas.
Photo by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.
What heppened in the race is already known and it is old history in today's world. But it is important to also understand what the Rally Argentina means in this region of the South American country.

The people became, once again, one of the main protagonists of the weekend. Although the number wasn't the expected by the organisers, it clearly reached the 1 million mark, with spectators covering every special stages the race crossed.

If someone believes that it isn't normal to spend maybe three or five days living in the middle of the mountains, not in the best conditions, at a very high altitude with temeratures of almost minus zerom waiting to see the amazings machines of the World Rally Championship to pass, he is not ready to understand what the rally and this race means in C?rdoba and environs.

Anything could be useful among the people to fight against the cold in the sierras. The most popular is the old and known asado, similar to the barbecue, but not surely the same. If one millon attened to the competition, you can easily imagine thousands of asados covering with smoke the rute of the race. Any excuse is good to set up an iron grate and grill food will do and many times it's whole animals, cow mostly.

Obviusly, wine and beer can't miss to join the meal and make more pleasant the waiting of the cars in the road. But sometimes more than one has drank to much to enjoy the WRC show. It happens.

The other Argentinian original mark, the mate, is also another tool that must be present between the families and friends in the road side.

For those who doesn't really know what that is, here is a short explanation. It is kind of herbal tea, but it isn't. The leaves float in the top of the wooden container. A bombilla - or metal straw allows you to suck up the brew.

Carlos Sainz plays tennis with ace David Nalbandian.
Photo by WRC McKlein.
This is how, between asado, mate and a lot of passion, the Argentinian crowd wait the pass of the cars supporting the international idols but of course the local heroes, such as Gabriel Pozzo (winner in the N4 cetegory), Marcos Ligato or Luis Companc Perez, the only one in the A class with a privateer Peugeot 206.

Nowbody in C?rdoba would miss the show, and tennis player David Nalbandian was no exception. Is known that the 2004 Roland Garros semi-finalist, native from C?rdoba, is a big enthusiastic of cars and the rally is, after tennis, his other passion.

Nalbandian spent some good time with Sainz, before the race begins, in a friendly tennis match. Despite we don't have the official result of this head to head, we can imagine it.

The people of C?rdoba not only waits this weekend to see the race, it is also a big opportunity for the economy of the provinvce. The presence of the rally leaves for the region around 80 million pesos, which proves why is so important in the area to have the event.

The Rally Argentina may look far away for European fans, but it is a great round for the World Rally Championship every year. The combination of a land that shows a spectacular scenery with a nation of people always up for see and enjoy the rally, makes of it the ideal event in the schedule of WRC.

Last weekend race was another fantastic sample of this. Rally Argentina proved again to be one of the more memorable events of the season.

The engines are now silent, but the race to have the 25th edition of Rally Argentina next year has already started.