(Photo: Rally Argentina)
IF ever there was a rally that features every kind of challenge imaginable, it is Rally Argentina.
Run in the province of Cordoba in the west of the country, Rally Argentina is considered the ultimate test of man and machine.
Rally Argentina has more water splashes than any other WRC event and they’re considered the stuff of legend.
The rivers are likely to be swollen if there is rain before the event and drivers will need to be careful to not hit the crossings too hard and drown their engines.
Among the unusual obstacles, the El Condor and Mina Clavero stages are littered with ancient iron bridges over deep canyons.
The bridges are extremely narrow and surfaced with timber planks that provide little grip
Precision will be vital but difficult – early autumn weather often brings dense fog in the mountains.
The 14 stages that make up this year’s Rally Argentina are a mix of smooth gravel roads that are typical of Argentina’s “pampa” (vast lowland plains) and rough, rock-strewn roads in the mountains.
Many of the gravel roads have a soft, sandy base and become heavily rutted for repeat passes. Moving out of the ‘rails’ here can pitch a car off the road.
Tyres will take a pounding on the stages with a firmer base and with the longest stage measuring a whopping 51.88km the choice of hard or soft compound tyres will be key.
But, as is the case with Rally Mexico, the air on the highest stages in Argentina is at a premium. The iconic El Condor stage starts from almost 2200 metres above sea level and will rob the 1.6-litre turbo engines of significant power.
The Argentine fans will have camped out for anything up to three days in order to get a good vantage point on their favourite stage, so by the time the WRC stars arrive in competitive anger, the excitement will have reached fever pitch.