The fast and technical gravel roads have been the scene of some sizzling battles and painful disappointments in the championship’s feeder series.
Whilst the current FIA Junior WRC crews are preparing for round two this week (20 -23 May), we take a look back at some stand-out moments from previous years.
2018: Rapid Radström tops rollercoaster battle
If you ever needed proof of just how close the competition in the FIA Junior WRC is, just take a look at the results from Portugal in 2018. On each stage, there was rarely more than a handful of seconds separating the top five drivers.
Most eyes were on the nail-biting fight for first between Emil Bergkvist and Dennis Rådström. The lead toed-and-froed between the pair with each stage that passed until Bergkvist’s rally fell apart when he rolled out during the second day.
Rådström went on to take victory after three relentless days, but it was Bergkvist who eventually won the title battle later in the year.
2016: Tempestini bounces back
In 2016, Simone Tempestini showed that refusing to give up in hard circumstances pays off. The Romanian rocket opened an early advantage before a damaged brake pipe on the second day cost more than a minute and dropped him down the order.
After repairing the issue, a glittering drive enabled him to climb the standings and snatch back top spot from Martin Koči with just three stages to run.
2012: Evans’ stonemasonry skills
Elfyn Evans and co-driver Andrew Edwards got the opportunity to show off their talents outside the car after going off the road in 2012.
After sliding into a field with no way of driving back onto the stage above, the Welsh pairing found another access road below them.
They opted to build a makeshift bridge out of rocks in order to cross the verge onto the access road and rejoined the stage. Nothing like a bit of improvisation!
Junior WRC Portugal Memorable Moments
2011: Breen’s nightmare start
Hyundai Motorsport star Craig Breen never lacked pace during his time in the WRC Academy. The Irishman stunned on his maiden appearance and initially led the category after claiming five stage wins before disaster struck during the Loulé speed test.
A misheard pace note saw Breen’s Ford Fiesta R2 plunge down the side of the road with no way back, destroying any hopes of a debut victory. Nevertheless, he still went on to lift the title later that year in Wales.
2007: Andersson’s recovery drive
2007 champion PG Andersson proved that even the heftiest of advantages is never safe in Portugal. Andersson trailed Suzuki Swift team-mate Urmo Aava for much of the rally and was more than a minute behind at the halfway point.
However, the Swede piled on the pressure during the closing stages and stormed to eight consecutive stage wins. In the process, he moved ahead of the Estonian during the penultimate stage and eventually won by 3.7sec.
- Full coverage from Vodafone Rally de Portugal will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.