24 - 27 Mar 11
Categories:WRC, PWRC, WRC Academy
Most Recent Winner:Sebastien Ogier (2011)
While Vodafone Rally de Portugal’s heart remains in Algarve, its home since 2007, this year’s event will include an all-new superspecial stage in the of the country’s capital, Lisbon.
It has resulted in a rejig of the itinerary with the pre-event shakedown moving forward to Wednesday and Thursday devoted to the street stage and the various supporting promotional activities.
On their return to Algarve following a 600-kilometre round trip, the crews will tackle three days of competition on the medium-fast gravel roads in the Algarve and Alentejo regions.
Portugal’s stages, which include a mixture of open roads and technical and narrow sections, are characterised by their abrasive surface. This puts the onus on tyre wear although the earlier March date (Vodafone Rally de Portugal ran in late May in 2010) means this might not be as apparent as in recent years when tyre wear rates were reported as being 40 per cent higher than on other gravel rallies.
Although the Algarve Stadium in out-of-town Faro continues to host the event, the superspecial stage, which ran within the stadium confines on a purpose-built course, won’t be repeated. Instead, those resources have been channelled into the new three-kilometre street stage in Lisbon’s Praca do Imperio, which crews will recce in electronic cars prior to the stage going live on Thursday afternoon.
Vodafone Rally de Portugal hosts the opening event for the new WRC Academy initiative for young drivers in identical Ford Fiesta R2s.
With the exception of the new-for-2010 Santana da Serra stage and the three-lap superspecial in Lisbon, the competitive route remains largely unaltered.