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Hi guys,

In Spain, some kids want to be the next Alex Criville and some kids want to be the next Carlos Sainz, but ALL kids want to play for Real Madrid.

Spain has a reputation for being a two wheeled country but that is a bit of a misconception. Most of the people who follow cycles also follow rallying and vice-versa. Marca, a domestic sports paper did some kind of poll a few years ago and ofcourse, Football or as some call it, Soccer, was no.1 by a large margin, but the gap between rallying and motorcycles was not very big. The thing there is that unless you grew up in downtown Madrid or Barcelona, chances are no matter where you live, you are within a 10 minute drive, or even walk from a special stage. In my home province, which is roughly the size of NJ, we have an 8 round regional championship, plus two asphalt nationals (all stand alone), two gravel nationals, and 7 or 8 hillclimbs a year. The regionals normally average about 150 entries and consistenly draw around 100k spectators per event. If you live there, It's almost impossible not to witness some kind of rally activity at some point in the year. If you are there long enough, chances are there will be some road, somewhere, that you will not be able to drive on because of either recce, testing, stage, etc, so in some way you are forced to spectate. With motorcycles, you still have to go to the track and pay your entry.

My point, in countries like Spain, Portugal, and Italy, still only motorcycle fans pay to see motorcycles races, but every one goes to rallyes. So, even thought the number of hardcore fans is not as large, the overall number of spectators is much larger. I have never met a person from my province between the ages of 13 and 55, male of female, who has not at least once, spectated a rally, and that is not an exageration.

Good example of why the numbers don't do justice. I was back home in '97 and M-sport had arranged to close some roads for a day of tarmac testing. Sainz was still with Ford at the time and a rumor started going around the day before that he would be there. Make a long story short, Ford had to delay their test and wait for local police to help with spectators because about 8000 people turned up, on a work day. Sainz never showed up but Juha did, and spent a lot of his testing time signing autographs.

Cheers,
Jose
www.eurosportrally.com
 

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At the regional level, Spain and Portugal have classes like Group X, and Group H, which are basically for older cars that are out of homologation but not quite old enough to run Historic. If I remember correctly, anything older than 1982 or 1981 runs historic and anything newer but out of homologation runs these clases.

Cheers,
Jose
www.eurosporrally.com
 

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Hi Tom,

I was never much of a cycle fan but all my friends had Derbi scooters, and I'm sure the lifesize carboard Alex Criville at the local Repsol gas station had something to do with it. Now that I think about it, I wasn't old enough to own a scooter but I did have a bicycle completely covered in Derbi and Marlboro stickers.
And yes, most of the Spanish speaking world is obsessed with Soccer. Not so much Cuba and Puerto Rico, but anything south of Mexico, and it's like a religion.

Cheers
Jose
 
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