The FIA World Rally Championship contenders return to Europe for the second of four consecutive gravel rallies, the hugely popular Rally de Portugal
Rally de Portugal (17-20 May) marks the start of four European summer events on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar and is the second of four consecutive gravel rallies. Based in Porto, in the north of the country, the event is hugely popular and draws fans in their thousands to the technical and tricky gravel roads around Matosinhos.
The rally was first held in 1967 as a mixed surface event and was one of the founding events in the inaugural 1973 FIA World Rally Championship. Having lost its place on the calendar in the early 2000s, the WRC came back to Portugal in 2007 with competition held in the southern Algarve region. The event returned to the north in 2015 where it has been based ever since.
A bumper entry of 88 crews reflects the popularity of the event and while Citroën, M-Sport Ford and Toyota will all be fielding three cars, Hyundai has entered all four of its crews for the sixth round of the series. The FIA WRC 2 Championship category remains hard-fought with 17 entries and Portugal also marks the mid-point of the five-round FIA Junior WRC Championship. Fourteen crews will be vying for honours in their identically prepared Fiesta R2s.
Five stages will be broadcast live on television: SS1, SS8/9, SS13 and both runs through Fafe on Sunday. All stages are also available live on WRC All Live on the WRC+ platform.
THE 2018 ROUTE
This year’s route remains all-but identical to last year with a different layout for Friday’s Porto Street Stage being the only major change. After the start ceremony in the World Heritage town of Guimarães, crews head straight to the Lousada rallycross circuit for the opening super special stage. Two loops of three stages to the north lay in wait on Friday, the day rounded off with two runs through the redesigned street stage. Saturday is the longest day competitively with another two loops of three stages, including the longest of the event: Amarante at 37.60 kilometres. Sunday covers five stages, most notably two runs over the famous Fafe stage with its iconic jump, the second passage counting as the Power Stage.