Rally racing is a fundamentally a motor sport which is not restricted within a circuit. These rally races are speed car racing sports event that are organized on private roads or public roads, closed for the event. These races are generally conducted in natural environment with roads made of gravel, snow or asphalt. The winners are decided with the fastest overall time adhering to the given set of rules.
The history of rally racing goes back to the late 19th century with the Paris-Rouen competition but the rally racing, itself became popular in 1911 with the famous Monte Carlo rally. Over the years, facing many challenges, changing set of rules, overcoming disasters and with evolution of the model of cars used, the sport is steadily growing its popularity with over 300 million audiences. Now, there are specially made stages for these races including numerous world wide events. With such large scale event, it becomes necessary to govern the rules, safety and easy accessibility to all the participants. Major sports organization like FIA represent such interests in rally racing. The most visible change in the sport over the years has been in the automobile used. Rally racing has become a source of commercialization for major brands in the automotive industry inside as well as outside Europe.
The cars used in rally races are specifically modified version of automobiles mainly customized for such events. It is generally assumed that these cars do not have to follow road rules for rallying but that is one major misconception. It is the first criteria that must be met for being eligible to compete that the vehicle is road legal. Furthermore, there are numerous groups of cars that participate in rally racing, this is done to make racing field even. Again, it is a rule that cars from two different groups can not participate in the same event. For example, a Group R car competes against other type R cars and is not allowed to compete with a Group A car. However, in order to keep the speed limit from going overboard governing bodies keep limitation for all kinds of modification done on the car including the size of engine, power, overall weight of the car, width of the tires etc.
With the growth of rally racing culture, the sport is divided generally two categories. First, road rally which mainly focuses on the overall time keeping, reliable vehicle maneuvering and accurate navigation over long distances. Monte Carlo rally is an example of road rally. Second, stage rally which conducted over specially designed stages on closed off public roads. These stages may vary from tarmac roads within a city, asphalt roads on mountains, roads on snow, sand in a desert or gravel filled road in a forest area. In these rally races the major focus is on the speed of the vehicle. In the earlier days of rally racing, the car was driven by a single amateur driver but now with the commercialization of the sport, a participant generally comes as a team using a works car from major brand. The team generally consists of a driver, a co-driver, mechanics and other technicians. The two drivers usually go for a pre-drive in preparation for the actual rally afterwards, here the co-driver feels and observes to make pace-notes for the rally.
In conclusion, a rally race with its vast history is now one of major professional motor sport with over 300 million audiences all over the world.
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