WRC – How it Works

The 2019 WRC will consist of 14 rallies as Chile is added as an organising nation. This means the championship will run in a total of 16 different countries around the world. Drivers, cars and teams not only compete against each other, but against extreme climates and challenging road conditions. It’s the ultimate challenge, with the best all-round drivers, the toughest cars and the top teams all vying for the final victory. But how does it all work? Here’s a brief introduction for anyone who’s new to the World Rally Championship.

Each rally consists of 15–25 stages. Drivers compete on closed roads and the object is to get from start to finish in the fastest possible time. Each driver drives the stage individually with their co-driver – the driver and co-driver are known as the ‘crew’. The co-driver is very much a navigator, who keeps notes and lets the driver know what’s coming around the next bend. The best time wins the stage, and the times from all the stages are added together to determine the overall winner.


Before the races begin there is a shakedown stage – a full-speed test before the official start. This is the crews’ chance to trial and get a real feel for the nature of the route,
and the teams can tune their cars to perform optimally in the prevailing conditions.
This is a real bonus for spectators, as they can see their favourites at full speed several times before the official races begin.

Starting order

The super special stages, which can be anything from 2 km or so to about 20 km, are driven individually, and the prioritised top drivers start at intervals of at least 2 minutes (sometimes 3 minutes). In the Thursday Superspecial in Karlstad, however, crews race in twos, and the starting order and heat allocation are decided by the event organisers.

On the Friday, the overall leader in the WRC starts first, and so on. On the final two days (Saturday and Sunday), all the WRC cars start in reverse order of their overall placement from the previous day. So the car in last place starts first, and the leader goes last. So for Rally Sweden, it’s the final result of the Monte Carlo Rally that will determine the starting order on the Friday morning.

The super special stages are linked by non-competitive road sections – open roads where normal road laws must be obeyed. There is however a strict timetable, with time penalties for late arrivals.

Rally 2

Rally 2 is a set of regulations that allow a driver who retires from a stage to re-enter the next day.
This means they can carry on in the competition, even though they have missed one or more stages. The team is given a time penalty for each missed stage.

Power Stage

In the rally’s final stage, which is broadcast live on TV all over the world, extra World Championship points are awarded to the five fastest crews, to raise the excitement stakes.
The best time on the final stage wins 5 points, second best 4 points, third 3 points, fourth 2 points and fifth 1 point.

Service Park

During the rally, servicing of the cars is strictly regulated. The mechanics may only work on their vehicles during scheduled periods of 15, 30 or 45 minutes. Outside of those times only the driver and co-driver may touch, work on and repair their car. Overnight, the cars are kept in quarantine, known as parc fermé (‘closed park’), and are inaccessible.

In 2019, the Rally Sweden Service Park will once again be at the airfield in Torsby, where you can watch the teams working on the cars and visit their team bases. From here it’s not far to SS8 Torsby 1, SS16 Torsby Sprint and the SS19 Torsby 2 Power Stage, as well as the restaurant tent and After Rally. There’s also a restaurant tent and After Rally at the Service Park itself.

Manufacturers World Championship

It’s not only the drivers that compete in WRC – there’s also a World Championship for Manufacturers. Here, the points totals of all the drivers in the manufacturer’s ‘team’ are added together. Each team can enter three drivers in the same manufacturer’s team for each rally, but only the best two results are counted.

WRC 2019

  • Rallye Monte-Carlo
    24-27 January
  • Rally Sweden
    14-17 February
  • Rally Mexico
    7-10 March
  • Rallye de France
    28-31 March
  • Rally Argentina
    25-28 April
  • Rally Chile
    9-12 May
  • Rally de Portugal
    30 May-2 Jnue
  • Rally Italia
    13-16 June
  • Rally Finland
    1-4 August
  • Rallye Deutschland
    22-25 August
  • Rally Turkey
    12-15 September
  • Wales Rally GB
    3-6 October
  • Rally de España
    24-27 October
  • Rally Australia
    14-17 November