45 RallyRACC Catalunya-COSTA DAURADA: More decisive than ever


45 RallyRACC Catalunya-COSTA DAURADA: More decisive than ever

Once again, and it is not a cliché, the RallyRACC Catalunya-COSTA DAURADA, Rally de España will be one of the most decisive events in recent times. Looking at the overall standings of the World Championship, the drivers' title in 2009 will inevitably depend on the result of the Spanish race. The 5 points advantage of Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) over Sébastien Loeb (Citroën), means that the fact that both the Frenchman and Citroën are the clear favourites to win the Spanish asphalt race maybe not enough if the current runner-up in the championship from Ford finishes third, so that avoiding a podium finish by Hirvonen at the Rally de España has become the main objective of the C4s in order to allow Loeb to take the leadership in the WRC.

The special difficulty of the RallyRACC, known by all of the drivers, given that it is a sprinted race, which does not allow for the least mishap, will with no doubt turn the Spanish event in a decisive round for the two teams leading the championship: BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team (leader of the Drivers' standings) and Citroën Total World Rally Team (leader of the Manufacturers’ standings). In addition to the two official Focus, Ford is counting on five additional entries, while the two official C4s from Citroën will be joined by five additional units. Mechanical equality, as well as in number and strength ahead of an event that may unbalance the scale in favour of one of the makes.

High level entries
We should not forget that this is the rally with the second highest number of entrants of the season (80), a figure which has only been improved by Rally Finland, which had 90. In addition to this significant entry list (including 16 WRCars) the undoubted sporting interest of the RallyRACC becomes also clear in the J-WRC, the world championship for drivers under 28 years of age, which will have in Catalunya its last round of the season. The title has already been clinched by Martin Prokop from the Czech Republic, but the other two steps of the podium are yet to be decided. The Spanish teams, 20 in total, will play a significant role as well, especially Dani Sordo (Citroën), who had memorable races on the Spanish asphalt and who will be taking the start this year with big expectations, given his important role in the fight for the Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles.

RACC driver Jordi Martí (Renault Clio), will race in the Junior class, while the presence of Dani Solà (Honda Civic) will provide for an additional interest, since the former Junior World Champion has always counted on the strong support of the fans. Both drivers won the Volante RACC award in 2006 and 1998 respectively. Several Spanish drivers in different classes, especially in Group N and Producción Rally Racing make up a high-quality and high-quantity list. A highlight will also be the participation of the five Pirelli Star Driver programme members, and the Fiesta Sport Trophy, a single-make series that will witness the debut of the new Fiesta R2.

A fast and difficult itinerary, with a new Shakedown stage
The itinerary of the 45th edition of the Spanish WRC is identical to that of 2008, having its nerve centre in Salou and PortAventura. The three-day race includes 18 special sections (9 different ones) with a total of 353.62 timed kilometres of the almost 1.300 km which make up the event. On the sporting side, the most significant novelty is the use of a section of the itinerary as Shakedown stage, namely the 4.32 initial kilometres of stages number 13 and 16 of the third Day (“Riudecanyes”), from the start to Coll de la Teixeta.

Safety and the environment get together
The 45th RallyRACC will have new symbols and interpretation as regards safety in spectator areas, counting on the participation of the public but also looking for the least environmental and visual impact in the safe areas. Spectators may position themselves in any non- signposted area or stay behind the yellow-and-black coloured fence whenever it is used to delimit an area.  All those areas considered by the organization as dangerous and therefore as no-go areas will be signposted with a series of red signs (new signs for 2009) indicating the prohibition, together with a red coloured tape.  Likewise, the RACC will introduce several actions to clean the rally areas, including the distribution of 10,000 bags to place the waste in spectator areas.

Vehicles with History: 30 years of the WRC
With the same quality as last year, but with an even more selected grid, 30 vehicles that have made history in the 30 years of the World Rally Championship will meet at the RallyRACC. With the collaboration of the German organization led by Reinhard Klein, the so-called Vehicles with History will cover the rally route during the time period between the two stage passages of the WRC participants. Before the start and at the end of the rally, the Vehicles with History will be exhibited next to the start podium in Salou. During the competition days, they will have a special area in the PortAventura Service Park. Among the models announced are original Ford Escort RS, TC and RS200, Peugeot 205 T16, Audi Quattro, Talbot Lotus, Porsche 911, Fiat 131 Abarth, Renault 5 Turbo, Opel Manta 400, Lancia Fulvia, Stratos, Rally and Delta Integrale, Nissan 240, Mercedes 500, Triumph TR7, and many others.