Defending World Champion Sebastien Ogier is the biggest name on a 32-strong entry list for the Fafe Rally Sprint, the traditional curtain raiser to Vodafone Rally de Portugal, which will take place on Saturday 29 March.
A dose of ‘flu caused Ogier to miss the event last year, but he is scheduled to make his Fafe comeback later this month at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo R.
Other manufacturer team drivers confirmed are Elfyn Evans and Ott Tanak, who will share an M-Sport Fiesta RS, Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke, who will drive a Citroen DS3, and last year’s Fafe winner Dani Sordo, who will be back to defend his title in Hyundai’s i20.
This year will be the third running of the Rally Sprint, which is based in northern Portugal, close to the city of Porto. The racing takes place on a 6.37km section of the historic Fafe/Lameirinha stage, which was part of Rally Portugal when the event was based in Porto.
With the rally now based almost 600km south in Faro, the event has become a huge draw for WRC fans in the north, and more than 100,000 turned up in 2013. The results have no bearing on the real Rally de Portugal, which starts the following Thursday, but drivers often use it as a last-minute testing opportunity.
Other notable entries include WRC privateer Martin Prokop [Fiesta RS WRC] and Portuguese WRC2 driver Bernardo Sousa [Ford Fiesta RRC]. The event mixes the old and the new, with 10 entries in the Historic Vehicle class.