The World Rally Championship is back on European soil with the Rally de Portugal. The 2015 Rally de Portugal was a huge success and it is therefore no surprise that this year’s remains broadly the same. It will again consist of 19 special stages over three legs and four days of action. Of the 368 km of competitive rallying action, only 6.5 km of the gravel route is different this year. And this year’s event is once again based in the town of Matosinhos, just to the north of Porto.
The action begins on the 19th May, just to the north of Porto, with a ceremonial start in the town of Guimarães. That evening there will also be a super special stage at the rallycross circuit in Lousada.
Friday is the first full day of action and sees the cars heading north towards the border with Spain for stages around the town of Ponte de Lima. Then Saturday sees the teams heading east for a series of stages around the town of Amarante, before the final day which consists of just four stages, but includes perhaps the most famous stage of the event, the Fafe test.
The Rally de Portugal always attracts big and passionate crowds, but if visitors really want to experience the atmosphere at its best, the Fafe stages are the ones to go along to, especially if you can find a good vantage point around the famous jump.
For drivers, the changing road conditions will prove to be the biggest test of their ability. Much of the rally takes place on sandy roads and for those drivers starting early ensuring a good grip throughout will be their most pressing concern. However, this surface will quickly erode and grip will improve on the whole. But other hazards will also be exposed, including loose rocks and deep ruts and pot holes.
Tyre choice can be absolutely vital and the decision on which to go with will often rest on starting positions. But drivers also have to remain constantly vigilant if they are going to avoid the unpredictable hazards that every stage of this event can throw up.
The 2015 Rally de Portugal proved to be an encouraging one for the two ŠKODA Motorsport drivers as they finished second and third in the WRC2 standings. And with no fewer than ten (!) ŠKODA Fabia R5 cars on the start line this year, hopes are high for more encouraging results.
The Rally de Portugal begins on Thursday 19th May and we will be keeping you abreast of all the action and the performances of our factory and customer teams, as the drama unfolds.