What’s the se­cret of Rally GB’S chang­ing weather con­di­tions? says...

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - David Evans

Why is ev­ery­body talk­ing about the con­di­tions in Wales? What makes these roads so spe­cific? Why is it bet­ter to run first?

To our un­trained eye, one for­est road looks like an­other. Don’t be fooled. Grip will be hang­ing on the stages and, most likely, de­te­ri­o­rat­ing with ev­ery car.

After a dry start to the month – a di­rect con­trast to last sea­son – the sur­face of the road shouldn’t be too muddy. As ev­ery car passes, how­ever, that crust of grip gets bro­ken and the in­evitable damp which sits be­neath the sur­face is un­cov­ered bring­ing more and more mud to the top.

This isn’t a uni­form process, how­ever, and that’s the dark art of Wales Rally GB. Most driv­ers have sussed that if they see a sec­tion of larger rocks and gravel – mainly used to fill a rut­ted sec­tion – they’re go­ing to get more grip. They will also be well aware of the cau­tion re­quired when they see log piles; asked what he thought when he saw a pile of logs at the side of the road, Mar­cus Gron­holm once replied: “Sh*t! No grip.” He’s right. In pil­ing the logs, the forestry ma­chines will churn the road up and of­ten turn it to deep mud.

Those are the ob­vi­ous ones, there are myr­iad other colour-weather com­bi­na­tions which can re­ward or pun­ish seem­ingly at will.

Don’t for­get, it all changes for the se­cond run, where the pass­ing of the en­tire field – and on Fri­day the na­tional cars – could pol­ish the sur­face. Or they could muddy it up a bit to bring more grip.

Last year it rained in the run up to the event, wash­ing away that top layer and leav­ing grip­pier bedrock – which is how Kris Meeke was able to com­pete from a start po­si­tion fur­ther down.

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