Tuesday | 18 May 2021

Behind-the-scenes: Building Vodafone Rally de Portugal

Hosting an FIA World Rally Championship event presents a set of challenges unique to the world of rallying. Vodafone Rally de Portugal has revealed some of its secrets ahead of this week’s fourth round of the 2021 WRC (20 - 23 May).

Under normal circumstances, there is only one thing drivers can be certain about when a rally is announced on the calendar – the dates. Much like cycling’s grand tours, everything else is changeable with different stages and surfaces on previously used stages potentially awaiting them.


As soon as Vodafone Rally de Portugal was announced on the 2021 calendar, the first decision to be made by the core staff of 15 was: What stages will be used in the rally?

Can improvements be made on these stages and will any new stages be introduced? Relying on an extensive archive from previous rallies, can alternative start and flying finish lines also be incorporated?

When making the above considerations, the organisers always have at the forefront of their planning issues such as agreements with local authorities, the competitiveness of the planned routes and, most importantly, the safety of the stages.

One year out also requires the reserving of accommodation and the start of work on the supplementary regulations, rally guide and a draft of the safety plan, all of which the FIA requires at least four months prior to the rally.


Two months out from the start date and it is time to open entries, allowing enough time for the drivers to be sent their road books and maps.

Dealing with the monumental logistics of a rally weekend sees the initial staff of 15 increase significantly, with an estimated 600 marshals and 900 policemen required for the successful running of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

The Little Chassis that Could


With the rally nearing and the stages decided, there is still the matter of having the stages set up accordingly. This requires (approximately):

  • 14,000 stakes
  • 40km of safety nets (starting and finishing areas, spectator areas, VIP areas, etc)
  • 150km of safety tape (closing off roads etc)
  • 20km of branding
  • 10 ceremonial arches
  • 250 cars for the organisers

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