Service Park spy: Portugal

Here are some of the service park sights that caught our eye today (Wednesday) as teams prepare for the first European gravel round of the year at Vodafone Rally de Portugal [17 - 20 May].

Hyundai’s Portugal connection
This weekend has a home-round feel for Hyundai with nine members of the team hailing from the Iberian Peninsula - including Thierry Neuville’s chief engineer Rui Nuñes. The Portuguese presence was clearly apparent with flags scattered throughout the team’s service area - including this patriotic tool chest.

M-Sport filming
One of the most iconic challenges in Portugal is Sunday’s Fafe jump [see video below]. An awkward landing here can bring a rally to an abrupt end [see Quentin Gilbert in 2017!] so teams are keen to make the cars as strong as possible. How do you land a car on one wheel and get away with it? We found Massimo Carriero from the M-Sport Ford team telling all to WRC TV. Watch out for the feature in this weekend’s coverage.

Michelin crews hard at work
Wednesday is a busy day for Michelin’s tyre-fitting team. Based in the heart of the service park, they will fit all the tyres for dozens of competitors this weekend – including 14 World Rally Car entries. And with each WRC car alone allocated 24 soft compound and 16 hard compound tyres, that’s a lot of rubber to manage.

WRC 2 leader goes through scrutineering
Wednesday is scrutineering day in Portugal, when cars are given a thorough inspection to check they conform to WRC technical regulations. We followed WRC 2 championship leader Pontus Tidemand’s Skoda as it was given a full inspection. Inside one of Exponor’s cavernous exhibition halls, the Fabia R5 was subjected to a barrage of checks – including weight, measurement, lighting, engine checks and component sealing before being given the all clear to rally this weekend.

Mads Østberg back in the Citroën
After a one-off appearance at February’s Rally Sweden, Mads Østberg is back in a C3 this weekend alongside Kris Meeke and Craig Breen. The Norwegian is coming back to the scene of his first WRC win (in 2012) and his C3 looks pristine next to the impressive Citroën hospitality area.

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