How the Rally of Nations format works

Drivers scoring points for stage positions and a car equalization formula – it's all explained right here

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You know this week’s Rally of Nations Guanajuato is where rallying meets the Olympics. But do you know how Team México can actually beat Team Finland? Or France. Or Spain. You get the picture.

Don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Actually, Rally of Nations Guanajuato director Patrick Suberville has got both of our backs. Thank you Patrick. As usual.

Like you, we were wondering how Daniel Hernández’s Volkswagen Jetta can possibly compete on an equal footing with Adrien Fourmaux’s McKenna Motorsport-supplied Ford Fiesta Rally2. Some science and an awful lot of number crunching is how.

Remember, Suberville and the Rally of Nations team have done this before – when Spain took gold in 2009 – but they’ve refined the process even further now.

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“We have a base for the timing,” explained Suberville. “This base is the Rally2 car. All the other cars will be classified so they can perform as well as a Rally2.

“We made a preliminary factor for the cars, depending on their engine power and aspects like suspension and other components. This gives us a broad picture for the Mitsubishi Lancers and the Renault Clios.

“But we have then taken that a step further and each car is given its own co-efficient factor to equalize it with a Rally2 at shakedown. We’re aware that two Subaru WRXs may not be the same, they might have different ECUs or gearboxes, so we have compared the specifications and tailored the time gap to every single car.”

“For the timing, we have RallySafe, the which times the World Rally Championship. They take the stage times and they already have each car’s co-efficient programmed, so they generate an overall classification and almost simultaneously deliver the leaderboard for the cars with their times adjusted.

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“We then wait for both cars from a national team and when they’re both at the finish then we can allocate points – 45 points for the fastest time – and that gives us our running leaderboard for the nations.”

The intrigue and interest does not end there. In a way to ensure the crews work together as a national team, the organizers have restricted the number of tires to just 14 per crew for the 16 stages.

“They need to use some strategy within the team,” said Suberville. “Ideally they wanted 16 tires to be on new ones, but we’re forcing them to use worn tires for one loop – each team has to decide between the two cars where and when it’s best to do this. They have to think about each other. They have to make calculations.”

Rally of Nations Guanajuato makes the crews think differently. Very differently. This week, rallying is a team sport with a national flag.

*Didier Auriol was unable to take the start for personal reasons. His place alongside Adrien Fourmaux has been taken by French passport holder Felipe Suberville and his co-driver Jaime del Palacio (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX).

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