IRC: Rally Internacional De Curitiba Brings Changes To Rally

Tony CastaneiraAnalyst IMarch 5, 2009

The Intercontinental Rally Challenge(IRC) moves from the snow and ice-covered asphalt of Monaco and the Col de Turini to gravel marking the IRC’s first gravel round of the season in the warm and tropical nation of Brazil for the Rally Internacional de Curitiba.

This will be the first time a major international rally series makes an appearance in the South American nation and with it comes certain changes to not only the cars but to the way rallies are run.

The switch from tarmac to a gravel set-up requires a number of changes to the cars.  The biggest change between gravel and asphalt is higher ride height for gravel.  The cars need to pass over obstacles and provide enough suspension travel to absorb the myriad of dips, jumps and bumps.  Because of this the suspension set-up is a lot softer than it is for tarmac.

Smaller wheels and brakes are used on gravel compared to those seen on asphalt rallies, due to the lower braking forces are less because of the cars sliding more.

The difference that is most apparent are the gravel tires. Gravel tires feature a distinctive deeply-grooved pattern to expel dirt and debris.  They are also made of a much harder and tougher compound

One problem that the cars will face in Brazil is cooling. This event takes place during the Brazilian summer and higher than normal temperatures are expected for the weekend.  These temperatures are like nothing the regular teams for the IRC have ever faced before and there is fear that overheating could be an issue.

The IRC will embrace a new model with the Rally Internacional de Curitiba. For the first time a major rally series will be held at the same venue as major road racing series.  The World Touring Car Championship(WTCC) will be teaming up with the IRC.

The rally runs around the city of Curitiba, south of Rio de Janeiro, with the IRC’s service park based in the Curitiba International circuit, alongside the FIA WTCC paddock.