Friday | 27 May 2016

The WRC gallery: Round 5: Portugal

The season's fifth round took teams to the spectacular gravel stages of northern Portugal and to a rally that had it all: a top quality entry, hundreds of thousands of spectators, beautiful summer weather and some jaw-dropping landscapes.

Here is a selection of some of our favourite photographs, courtesy of snappers Jaanus Ree and At-World’s Andre Lavadinho.

1) WRC convoy
Competitors making their way to the start line via the motorway is someting you won't see in circuit racing. Rally base was the Exponor exhibition complex in Matosinhos which was accessed by the nearby A28 highway. It's not often you see a six-car WRC convoy but here they are heading off after service.

2) Lousada
This 3.36km super special stage opened the action for a second year and again proved hugely popular. Two cars at-a-time ran alongside each other on the mixed surface rallycross circuit. An estimated 70,000 fans filled the grandstands.

3) Up in flames
Hayden Paddon's shunt on Friday in the re-run of Ponte de Lima didn't look too serious until his car's exhaust system ignited the tinder-dry undergrowth. Paddon and his co-driver John Kennard could only look on as their i20 was lost to the brush fire. Team technicians below survey the wreckage.

4) Above the clouds
Clouds of dust mix with clouds of, well, cloud on Saturday's Marão - a contender for the most picturesque stage of the season. The rally’s highest point at 1222 metres offered spectacular, far-reaching views.

5) The Fafe high jump
Here's Stéphane Lefebvre in full flight after Fafe's famous jump - a fearsome test of skill and confidence. The landing area is completely obscured by the crest, so drivers don't discover how well they lined-up until they touch down.

6) Sordo on reflection
It wasn't all dry and dusty in Portugal.

7) Blades of glory!
Back to Fafe again, where a flying Andreas Mikkelsen takes centre stage, along with the WRC TV helicopter's main rotor blade, tail rotor blade and a 116ft-long wind turbine blade.

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