The passion of Argentina

The passion of Argentina

Everything around Córdoba these days is about the 24th edition of the Rally Argentina, the eight round of the 2004 World Rally Championship. Mikko Hirvonen. Photo by Ford Motor Company. The hit, the passion, the fans, the feeling of...

Everything around C?rdoba these days is about the 24th edition of the Rally Argentina, the eight round of the 2004 World Rally Championship.

Mikko Hirvonen.
Photo by Ford Motor Company.
The hit, the passion, the fans, the feeling of adrenalin and speed is in every corner of this beautiful province, no matter how small it could be. The World Rally Championship has arrived to Argentina and nobody wants to miss the great show.

Once again, Villa Carlos Paz, located northern to C?rdoba, will work as the host town of this sixth consecutive gravel event of the season.

This is the weekend that the fans have been waiting since the dispute on May last year of its 23rd edition. C?rdoban people lives for the rally, and the rally is there for C?doba. The big event of the year is about to start and the emotion is guaranteed.

On 2003 edition, the fantastic number of 1.3 million people attended to the race during the three days of competition. And next weekend the organisers hope to see over 1.5 million this time around the special stages.

Toni Gardemeister.
Photo by WRC McKlein.
The entire province of C?rdoba will attend the race, together with people from surrounding areas and bordering countries, such as Chile, Uruguay and Brazil.

Usually the race has its date on May, but this time was moved to July, which means and important change in weather: this is the heart of the cold season. Another big challenge for the teams and drivers that arrived to Argentina with the aim of conquering the sierra around C?rdoba.

The WRC comes from summer weather in Europe with temperatures of over 40?, an important contrast to this present in the middle of the southern hemisphere winter where will find minus zero degres in many of the special stages.

However the organisers won`t take unnecessaries risks and their have announced that stages will be cancelled in case of snow, there is clearly a greater danger of competitors finding damper conditions this time round. Another dressing for this season competition.

The length of the rally is 1344,44 km. including a timed distance of 382,60 km with 26 special stages to be run on gravel.

The drivers of the World Championship must find their way though the sierra around C?rdoba offer a challenging mix of terrains featuring a bit of everything, from smooth gravel and sand to stonier ground, including some distinctly rougher portions.

Beautiful Sierras scenery.
Photo by WRC McKlein.
The major change in the road book for this 24? edition of the Rally Argentina is the excellent idea of returning to two zones where some of the finest chapters of this rally history have been written: the stages around Santa Rosa de Calamuchita and two legendary tests high in the mountains above Mina Clavero -- 'Giulio C?sare' and 'El Condor' -- classics very well known by some of the experimented drivers, like two-time winner Carlos Sainz (1991 and 2002).

However, it is a fantastic and difficult challenge for many of the quickest drivers of today, such as Sebastian Loeb or current champion Petter Solberg, who must fight against this new-and-old classic of the Argentinian rally.

The road is located in the mountains, at a very high altitude, whic will reach the 1600 metres (5200 feet), which marks the rally as one of the "highest" of the season.

This situation is always a matter of concern for the engineers of the different teams . The engines of the WRC cars suffers an important decrease in their power of a 30%, something around 100 horse power less. Another issue that teams and driver must note when the racing moment comes.

Among the candidates to take the victory, the Citroen Xsara driver Sainz is the one that stands out. The Spaniard won here two times and is the favorite of the crowd that makes him always feel like home.

Marcus Gronholm.
Photo by Marlboro Peugeot Total.
Two-time World Champion Marcus Gronholm also appears in the list; the Finn took the victory on 2003 and Argentina could be a good place for the very first victory of the new Peugeot 307.

The new generation of quick drivers like Solberg, Loeb or Mark Martin also can`t be forgotten and are serious names to be in the highest of the podium ceremony on sunday. But we must wait -- the battle hasn`t started yet.

There`s nothing but rally in the atmosphere of Argentina this days. Everything is set to start with cars and drivers in their positions. The green light is right there. Three, two, one, GO!

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Mikko Hirvonen , Toni Gardemeister , Mark Martin
Teams Citroën World Rally Team