Rallye Int. du Valais
Round 12, Switzerland
In 2012 the Rallye International du Valais will celebrate its 53rd edition. It was first organised in September 1960 as part of a regional event that took place in Martigny and was called "Le 1er Comptoir de Martigny" (The 1st fair of Martigny), then became the "Rallye du Vin" until 1975.
From 1976, the tourism aspect left place to a pure sporting event that rapidly gained access to international championships. The Rallye du Vin was included in the European Rally Championship from 1980 with coefficient 1, then 2 the following year, 5 until 1997 and finally 10 until 2008. Several renowned rally drivers entered the event to acquire experience, such as Per Eklund, Jimmy McRae, Jean Ragnotti, Guy Colsoul, Sepp Haider, Harald Demuth, Patrick Snijers, Robert Droogmans, Bruno Thiry, etc. In 1996, the international character of the event is reinforced by the participation of four-time World Champion Juha Kannkunen. The most successful driver is local man and four-time Swiss Rally Champion Olivier Burri who won the RIV no less than eight times and finished second overall in 2011.
Called Rallye International du Vin et du Valais from 1981 to 1984, the event became the Rallye International du Valais in 1985 in order to clearly identify the geographic venue for the most important automobile competition in Switzerland, benefiting from a wide media coverage.
The international dimension was emphasized in 1993 by a partnership with a newspaper covering the entire country, allowing widening the exposure and the reputation of the RIV. In 1994, an association was founded with the aim of gaining access to superior levels of the European Rally Championship. From 2009, the event constitutes the last round of the FIA European Championship. With what many describe as the most beautiful tarmac stages and its strong organisation, the Rallye International du Valais is considering a project in order to present a candidature file for the FIA World Rally Championship.
The headquarters of the rally are located in Martigny, the second largest city of the canton, in the French speaking-part of the Rhone upper valley, few kilometres away from the Lake Geneva. This area is a major crossroads between France (Chamonix via the Forclaz Pass) and Italy (Aosta via the Grand-Saint-Bernard tunnel or pass and Domodossola via the Simplon Pass), as well as an access to different parts of Switzerland via the motorways to Lausanne or Berne.
The Rallye International du Valais traditionally takes place the last week of October from Thursday to Saturday. The shakedown, the administrative and technical checks take place on Thursday morning and are followed by the start while the prize-giving and the traditional "Big Night" go on Saturday night.
The Rallye International du Valais is divided in three days with some 18 special stages covering over 300 km. It actually consists of a dozen of different stages which are tackled once or twice. In 2011, their length varied from 7.53 to 37.65 kilometres. The rally has the reputation to be tough for men and machines, the elevation of the stages being between 400 and 2200 metres above sea level.