Rally Australia

Surface: Gravel

Another big rally, this one has been voted the event of the year on three occasions recently and the Perth-based gravel event is a hit with the teams and drivers alike.

When former World Champion Hannu Mikkola crossed the start line in Fremantle in 1988, he launched Australia's first round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and started an event that was to grow to be one of the top motorsport events on the international calendar.

With its unique route that started and finished in the city each day and looped through Western Australia's spectacular forests, the Rally won over competitors and spectators alike.

Most importantly, officials from the sport's governing body were impressed by the highly professional organisation and quality of the route and later that year awarded Telstra Rally Australia FIA World Rally Championship status in addition to being a round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

The 1989 event, Australia's first world championship rally, attracted 20 FIA seeded drivers and competitors from eight nations. Things just grew from there.

Today the event is a tough test set by the gravel roads and the forests, and if a driver runs first he can often find himself clearing stones from the road for those behind. It's all part of the rally, though, and the drivers love it. Colin has a particular affinity for the tree-lined gravel roads down under, having mastered them to win in 1994 and '97.

Australia is famous for Langley Park superspecial, the first real spectator stage in the WRC where drivers compete in pairs in a tight space in front of grandstands. This proved such a hit that it was copied throughout the world, but Langley Park remains special.

In addition to this the Rally Australia also has a man-made forest and series of watersplashes to its name, and it provides some of the best places to watch a rally in the world.