Stadium goers After a frenzied start to the 2007 season, World Rally Championship regulars enjoyed a month's break after Portugal before the series resumes this weekend in South America. The route of the forthcoming Rally Argentina will take ...
After a frenzied start to the 2007 season, World Rally Championship regulars enjoyed a month's break after Portugal before the series resumes this weekend in South America. The route of the forthcoming Rally Argentina will take competitors from the famous River Plate 'Estadio Monumental' Stadium in Buenos Aires to the sierra of the Córdoba region before a grand finale in Córdoba's Estadio Chateau Carreras.
After visiting both the Olympic Stadium in Athens and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in 2005, then the Château Carreras Stadium in Córdoba last year and the Estadio de Algarve last March, this weekend will see the WRC showcased in the legendary River Plate Stadium, the hallowed arena where national hero Mario Kempes sliced through Cruyff's Oranges in the 1978 Soccer World Cup to put the first golden star on the Albiceleste jersey.
What with the growing use of soccer and rugby stadia, an F1 circuit in Monaco, a hippodrome in Sweden and the former Olympic ice-skating rink in Norway, modern rallying, like a cuckoo in spring, seems to have no qualms about squatting the nests other international sports, even if that does entail -- as it does this weekend -- a lightning round trip from the giant cuckoo clock of Villa Carlos Paz's town centre to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, 750km distant...
True Rally Argentina aficionados -- those who camp out in the mountains with only glowing braseros for warmth and who swallow down their barbecued asados with best Mendoza red - will still get the chance to see their heroes in action from Friday morning after the caravan returns to its quarters on the shores of Lake San Roque Lake in Villa Carlos Paz. The route will then twist its way through the local sierra and pampas, visiting stages like Ascochinga, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, Mina Clavero and El Condor that have collectively forged the event's legend.
Indeed, the Rally Argentina features a bit of all the traditional challenges associated with gravel fixtures. Certain stages are very fast, others are narrower, technically demanding or rough, not to mention the many impressive jumps and dozens of fords. The surface also tends to vary from leg to leg, with the prospect of slippery mud in the La Cumbre region if it rains, then sandy ground in the lower-lying land around Santa Rosa de Calamuchita and rockier terrain in the mountains that tower over Mina Clavero.
"With this broad mix of conditions, tyres need to be versatile, strong and durable, three qualities that characterise the g-Force Gravel that won this event in 2006," observes BFGoodrich Rally Manager Matthieu Bonardel. "At the same time, the tyre and car package needs to be a perfect match, with the tyres working in total harmony with the suspension."
QUOTAS - Priority drivers have a maximum quota of 55 tyres of which they will be able to use a maximum of 35 (rally + shakedown). These tyres were registered with the FIA on Friday March 22.
TESTING PROHIBITED IN ARGENTINA - On-site preevent testing is not permitted for WRC rounds that take place outside of Europe. Manufacturers consequently tested in Europe (Spain and Sardinia) using test stages that resembled as closely as possible what they can expect in Argentina, then extrapolating from their findings to determine the ideal set-up.
A NEW CO-DRIVER FOR ATKINSON - Following Glenn MacNeall's decision to put an end to his career after the Rally de Portugal, Chris Atkinson will share the cockpit of his Subaru/BFGoodrich from now on with Belgium's Stéphane Prévot, formerly right-hand man of Bruno Thiry and Stéphane Sarrazin in the WRC.
JORDAN RALLY - This recently-created event is listed on the 2008 WRC calendar. Certain crews, including Loeb/Elena and Solberg/Mills, are scheduled to travel to Jordan from Argentina to recce the 2007 event.