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  Home > Specials > Rally glossary > Rally Glossary S
Rally Glossary S
Safety car
See zero car.

The technical check that takes place before rally starts and whereby rally officials verify that cars are withing technical regulations. During scrutineering, car is compared to homologation papers and all parts that require homologation must match with specifications. Subsequently regulated parts like gearboxes are sealed and marked in order to prevent teams opening and modifying those. Legality of the cars is also checked after the event.

One of the most visible passive safety features of the rally cars, and the one closest to the driver, is the seat.

Rally officials determine the starting order by using process called seeding. Faster drivers are seeded first so that chance of slower driver being caught and passed on the stage is minimized. Note that for championship contenders (WRC, JWRC and PWRC) seeding during the first day of the rally is based on championship order.

Sequential gearbox
As opposed to traditional H-pattern gearbox where driver can select virtually any gear regardless of the currently selected gear, operation of the sequential gearbox resembles that of a motorcycle gearbox. Driver can select only "next higher" or "next lower" gear by moving selector to desired direction - though there may be a shortcut to select neutral and reverse gears faster than by shifting through all gears. Initially, selector was a forwards/backwards moving stick on the floor but later the steering wheel paddle shift became the norm. Note that besides the gear selection mechanism itself, there need not be much difference between H-pattern and sequential gearbox.

Under current rules servicing is allowed only in designated service parks and during designated time. Exception to this is servicing done by the crew with tools and spares carried on the car. In the old days mechanics followed rally cars everywhere except into actual stages and servicing took place after every stage on the side of the road. See also chase car.

Service park
One of the biggest changes made in 1990's was introduction of servicing restrictions and move to centralized service. Centralized service takes place in service park which today resembles an F1 paddock with big service and hospitality trucks.

The combination of settings for car, engine, suspension, brakes, differentials etc. Set-ups are different for different surfaces, weather conditions, driver preferences and so on.

Shakedown test
Confirmation test currently held in thursday morning, day before rally starts. Stage is provided by rally organizers. Participation is mandatory for works drivers and purpose is partly to get more media attention to rallies.

(Driving) shoes
Even if Carlos Sainz won 1000 Lakes Rally of 1990 while wearing a Reebok on his injured left foot, crew do use special driving shoes instead.

Silly season
Time of the season when drivers make decisions about their teams for next year. Usually doesn't begin before season is well over half done and ends few rallies to spare even though lesser teams and lesser drivers may still be considering their options.

Any aerodynamic devices fitted under the car with intention of creating a ground-effect. Banned in rally cars after Henri Toivonen's fatal accident at Corsica 1986.

Tarmac racing tyres that are completely smooth, with no grooving at all. Banned by FIA.

A type of car body which consists of open tubular structure. Panels fitted over such a structure usually serve only as cover and form visual shape of the car but do not contribute towards rigidity of the chassis. In modern rally cars roll cage is example of spaceframe structure. Compare to monocoque.

Special stage
Speed test, timed currently to the tenth of a second. Stage is always closed to the public traffic. Compare to competitive section.

Metal spikes of varying length (depending on the hardness and thickness of the ice) attached to the tyres used in winter rallies to help with the grip.

A rule which allows retired crews to rejoin the rally. It is meant to ensure more cars (and more action for spectators to follow) throughout the rally but is a bit problematic. For example, Sebastien Loeb went off in 2006 Monte Carlo, dropped to eight overall only to climb back to second by the end. Also, as driver is penalized by five minutes per stage missed, it is sometimes more beneficial for him to retire and rejoin next day via super-rally than to continue.

Super special stage
Stage that is run in specially built arena. Allows more than one car to run the stage simultaneously. Most SSS's are two-car affairs, but for example in Argentina there has been three cars on the stage at the same time.

Super 1600
Homologation specification for normally aspirated 1600cc front-wheel drive cars used in Junior World Rally Championship.

Construction that connects wheels to a car via axles, springs, dampers and like. Does not include diffs or axles themselves, which are considered transmission.

On gravel rallies, roads are covered with a layer of loose gravel in varying degree. First cars will sweep this loose gravel from the racing line and struggle with grip, losing time while those coming from behind will benefit from better grip. Because of this, the running order is important, even so important that drivers are willing to play tactics to gain advantage.

Super 1600 -car
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Super 1600 -car (Suzuki Ignis in Monte 2003, driven by Daniel Carlsson) Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Bucket seat
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Modern bucket seat Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Old bucket seat
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Older bucket seat, this one from Renault-Alpine A110. Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
1995 service
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Road-side servicing of old time (Portugal 1995), Subaru on left and Toyota on right Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
service park
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Aerial view of modern service park (Catalunya 2002) Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Driving shoes
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Driving shoes Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Studs on a snow tyre
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Close-up of studs on a snow tyre Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window