Rally Spain really does feel like it can offer the best of both worlds. One day of some of the finest European gravel roads and then two hard days of foot to the floor tarmac assault. For those who love the experience of gravel the first day (and shakedown) are not to be missed with, quite frankly, awesome stages taking place on the Friday all of which close together means switching between them is never an issue.
Personally speaking, I prefer the gravel day. There’s nothing like seeing a modern World Rally Car tearing it up on a surface that is loose and rugged. It’s like seeing racing cars in a totally alien environment – race cars can’t be fast on a surface this rough? Can they?
It’s an effortless charge for the crews through some of Spain’s most spectacular scenery – just take the access road to ZP3 of Terra Alta for example. You’ll be taken to the the highest point for miles and see a jaw dropping view over the Spanish hills that you would simply not see otherwise. The dust rising all around you as the stage snakes around the bottom of the valley.
That said the tarmac days are just as beautiful – whilst this year we were not blessed with the glorious sunshine that Spain is typically known for (rather a more grey Wales-ish sky to be honest) the stages are challenging and fast with epic camber changes that just create a natural flow and rhythm to the stages. It’s a joy to watch them thread themselves through these racetrack-esque roads.
Not to mention the fact that this rally was full of drama from start to finish. We were certain that Sebastien Ogier had this rally well and truly wrapped – but we arrived back in the United Kingdom to the news that Andreas Mikkelsen had taken the rally win. On the final stage after Ogier had ploughed into a barrier whilst taking perhaps one risk too many…
With the price of Wales Rally GB increasing every single year you simply can’t ignore this low cost trip to some of Europe’s best stages. Just do it!