World Rally Championship returns to Portugal

THE FIRST Portuguese round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) was in 1973 and, for the next 29 years, the event went on to become one of the most difficult and notorious rallies in the world.

Over the years, Portugal’s rally became most known for the interaction between competitors and spectators as car enthusiasts could stand feet away from the screaming rally cars. That all changed following a tragic accident. Better crowd control was brought in, but the mark had been left and Portugal was removed from the WRC circuit.

After two years of candidacy, Portugal’s return to WRC will be a fresh start. Traditionally, the rally was based on the west coast near Porto and contained a mix of gravel and tarmac stages. Not a combination favoured by drivers, but now, as the new look rally has moved to the Algarve, it is hoped that Portugal’s WRC round will quickly become a favourite with fans and spectators again.

The rally was one of the most beloved in the entire championship before being replaced on the calendar by Germany’s WRC round and organisers are keen to return to the glory days of old.

The rally will start with a Super Special 2.03 kilometre race at the Algarve Stadium in Faro on March 29 at 6pm and, on the following days, will take in Tavira, São Brás de Alportel, Silves, Ourique, Almodôvar, Loulé and finishing with another Super Special race back at the Algarve Stadium at 1.45 on Sunday, April 1.

Watch out for a full report in next week’s edition of The Resident!

Driver standings going into the Portuguese rally:

Marcus Gronhom BP Ford (Fin) 32

Sébastien Loeb Citroen (F) 28

M Hirvonen BP Ford (Fin) 26

Dani Sordo Citroen (Spain) 13

Henning Solberg Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team(N) 11

Chris Atkinson Subaru (Aus) 10

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