The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) pits drivers and production-based cars against some of the toughest and most varied conditions on the planet.

Established in 1973, the WRC is widely regarded as the most challenging motorsport championship in the world.

The roads on this epic motorsport adventure are spread across countries with 13 rallies on everything from snow packed forest tracks to rock-strewn mountain passes.

How a Rally works

Each rally features a number (typically between 15 and 25) of timed sections – known as stages – run on closed roads.

Drivers battle one at a time to complete these stages as quickly as possible, with timing down to 1/10th second. Along the way, a co-driver reads detailed pace notes that explain what is coming up ahead. Competitors drive to and from each stage on public roads, observing normal traffic regulations.

Most rallies follow the same basic itinerary. This starts with two days of ‘reconnaissance’ where driver and co-driver practise the route, at limited speed, to make pace notes. It is followed by ‘shakedown’ – a full speed test of their rally car – with the competition proper running for three days from Friday to Sunday.

Because rallies go on for several days, competitors visit a ‘service park’ at pre-determined points to allow technicians to perform mechanical work on each car. Service time is strictly limited, with each stop being either 15, 40 or 45 minutes. At the end of each day’s competition, cars are held in a secure parc ferme.

Away from the service park, only the driver and co-driver can work on their car, using only tools and spare parts carried on board.

Cars and categories

WRC is the Championship’s headline category and the spectacular new-era World Rally Cars are driven by superstars such as Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak.

Three manufacturers compete for drivers’, co-drivers’ and manufacturers’ world titles across all championship rounds. All rallies count towards the final standings.

Getting technical

  • 1.6-litre, fuel injection, turbocharged, four cylinder engines fitted with a 36mm air intake restrictor
  • Power output restricted to 380bhp
  • Permanent four-wheel drive, six-speed sequential gearbox with paddle-shift on steering
  • Mechanical front and rear differentials. Active centre differential
  • Weight: 1190kg minimum. 1350kg with driver and co-driver
  • 0-100kph in less than 4sec
  • Top speed exceeds 200kph

WRC 2 is the championship’s primary support category and the principal feeder for ambitious competitors targeting the final step to a WRC drive. The category is for manufacturer-backed teams and independent teams approved by the FIA.

Competitors must tackle eight rounds, comprising a minimum of six and a maximum of seven European rounds and at least one rally outside Europe – either Mexico or Japan. All eight scores count. Titles will be awarded for drivers, co-drivers and teams.

The championship is open to R5-specification four-wheel drive cars from the Rally 2 class of technical regulations. They are less modified than World Rally Cars and power and performance are balanced through turbocharger air restrictors, minimum weight stipulations and price caps.

WRC 3 is aimed at independent drivers only. Cars comply with exactly the same technical regulations as WRC2. There are titles for drivers and co-drivers and competitors count their best six scores from any seven rounds.

Penalties and Points

Time penalties are applied if visits to the service park exceed the allotted time. Penalties are also given to competitors who arrive late at stage starts, or any other check-points throughout the event.

The crew that completes all the stages in the shortest time is the winner. Points are allocated to the top ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 basis. Points are awarded to registered teams in the same way. In addition, top 5 finishers of Power Stage will be awarded with extra points on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis.

See the WRC Calendar