Vodafone Rally de Portugal
|Vodafone Rally de Portugal|
|Stages:||16 (339.46 km)|
- After a Lisbon start, the rally journeys south to the Algarve for three legs of gravel stages in the Baixo Alentejo and Serra do Caldeirão hills north of Faro.
- The opening two legs each cover 146km and criss-cross the motorway from Lisbon to the Algarve.
- The final leg, comprising just three stages and 43.87km, is slightly further south
- A mid-leg service at the Algarve Stadium divides identical morning and afternoon loops in legs 1 and 2, but there is no service during leg 3.
- Regarded as the most technically difficult gravel round. Fast, open roads mixed with narrow tracks, littered with blind crests, make it hard to find a rhythm.
- Accurate pace notes are vital as many crests hide corners beyond them.
- A dry spring will mean the championship front-runners starting first must manage roads covered in slippery loose gravel during the opening leg.
- Trees and stones line the stages, both on the inside of corners where a driver looks to make cuts, and on the outside where a car slides if a driver approaches too quickly.
- The roads have a clay surface which is hard in dry conditions and demanding on tyres. If it rains they quickly become very slippery.
- Gravel suspension.
- Abrasive surface places high demands on tyres, especially if hot weather sends the thermometer rising.
- First held in 1967 and one of the founding events in the inaugural 1973 WRC.
- Initially a mixed surface rally, it switched to a pure gravel format but lost its place in the calendar after bad weather ruined the 2001 event.
- Organisers moved from the north to the Algarve holiday region in the south and it regained its place in 2007.
- Named ‘Best Rally in the World’ on five occasions.
What’s new for 2014
- The Lisbon area becomes the focus of the opening day. The start ceremony takes place in Estoril, just outside the city, before the opening stage at Praco do Imperio in the shadow of the Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Saturday’s Santana da Serra stage runs in the opposite direction to 2013.
- Sunday’s penultimate Santa Brás de Alportel returns after not being used last year.
- Lisbon offers an afternoon of entertainment before the evening stage. After a start in the city, Praça do Império hosts parades, autograph signing and the unusual sight of drivers recceing in electric buggies.
- Remember to take a look at Jari-Matti Latvala’s dramatic 2009 crash when he rolled a Ford Focus RS WRC 17 times down a hillside. See it again at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrRNxB3i9rg