The 2017 Rally de Portugal will consist of 19 stages and 349 kilometers of competitive distance on tight and tricky gravel and sandy roads those often have a few surprises in store for drivers.
The rally begins on Thursday with a picturesque start outside Guimarães Castle before a super special stage at the Lousada rallycross circuit gives drivers a chance to show off their power sliding techniques. On Friday, the rest of the first leg will see teams heading north towards the Spanish border for reconfigured stages around Viana do Castelo. The day will end with two street stages in the historic centre of the city of Braga.
The second leg will see drivers heading into the Cabreira Mountains where they will face winding and rutted mountain roads on Saturday, including one completely new stage, Cabeceiras de Basto.
For the final day, all the action heads to Fafe, with single passes on two new stages, Luilhas and Montim, alongside two runs of the famous Fafe stage. As always, large crowds can be expected along the special stages on Sunday, sitting on the hillsides to watch the action unfolding beneath them, or crowding around the famous jump to catch a glimpse of cars making air.
Whilst the jump is always exciting, the real challenge on the Rally de Portugal comes from the road surfaces. The sandy gravel tracks can make grip a problem on the first run, whilst the further into the event we get, the more they erode to expose ruts and rocks which can catch many an unsuspecting car out.
Many teams will choose to raise the suspension to cope with this, but whilst a gravel suspension is a must, the choice between taking a hard or soft tyre is much harder and can determine the outcome of the rally.
This is the third year the Rally de Portugal has been back in its spiritual home in the north of the country and the rally remains a treat for drivers and fans alike. It is no coincidence that it has been voted Rally of the Year on no fewer than five occasions.
This year’s edition promises to be every bit as exciting as previous ones and we will be keeping you abreast of the performance of both the ŠKODA Motorsport cars and all the customer teams’ FABIA R5s that are taking part too.