A Subaru flies by. On cue, the crowd takes a collective, sharp breath as the car careens around the hairpin turn, missing a foreboding tree trunk by mere millimeters. “He almost wiped out!” a rally newbie next to me yelps. Actually, the driver didn’t. It was an incredibly calculated move.
Before a single spectator arrives, an event known as a “recce” – the European abbreviation of “reconnaissance” – kicks off some stage rallies. It’s a methodical mapping of the stages by a driver and co-driver – an indomitable brew of painstaking observation, a hard-earned understanding of basic physics, and down-and-dirty gut instinct.
A stage rally team gets one chance to survey the course and plot its every move. Yet for a talented team, that’s enough to instill a confidence that could never come from horsepower and determination alone.