Rally Spain is the only mixed surface event on the WRC calendar. The opening day is on gravel, the remaining two days are on tarmac. It’s a huge test for the crews to work on the cars and make significant changes to setups during relatively short service stops. It’s also a big test for the drivers, who switch from cars with massive suspension travel and small brakes to firm riding track-day weapons with huge brakes.
The surface change played a key role in Sebastien Ogier’s victory, too, with teammate Jari-Matti Latvala struggling on day one, only to find his feet on the smooth tarmac roads in Catalunya. What was a lead of around 30 seconds after the first day was whittled back to a lead of 11 seconds by the rally’s end. Still, that was enough for Ogier to secure back-to-back world championships.
You’ll see from the images below that the dust on those gravel roads not only affected the outcome of the rally, but provided some truly spectacular images as well. Of note in Spain also, Ken Block took some time out from burning rubber to make one of his rare WRC appearances.