For example Wales Rally GB is set on gravel, except for one exhibition-style stage round the Great Orme. Rally Sweden is entirely on snow, allowing teams to arrive with just hard studded tyres, and Germany is a full tarmac rally, so the cars arrive slammed to the ground, carrying loads of aero and slicks. As with every rule there is an exception; Rally Catalunya starts with two days on gravel before switching to end on two tarmac days in the Spanish sun.
But the Monte Carlo Rally is trickier to define. The whole event takes place on tarmac, so the cars are in their lowest, fastest form. But it's also January in the mountains of Provence and many stages take place under the cover of darkness. So rally crews have to expect to round a corner and find themselves on snow, standing water, or worse – black ice. It's a set of conditions that have caught out the very best – see our video from one particularly trecharous corner here – and provide one of the greatest tests in world motorsport.
So, here is a guide to mastering those conditions, with who else but the master of it all – Sébastien Loeb. This clip is from the 2015 Monte Carlo Rally, one of a selection of rallies Loeb entered over the last few seasons since his retirement from full-time rallying. To demonstrate exactly how dangerous the Monte can be, Loeb would go on to retire just five stages later after hitting a rock. It really can claim the best. This year Loeb will be back with Hyundai, and only a few days after finishing the Dakar Rally, perhaps the one rally that's trickier than the Monte?