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Tue 14 Mar 2023

Portugal route unveiled

Automóvel Club de Portugal has revealed the route for this year’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal (11 - 14 May), round five of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship.

The Iberian Peninsula has developed into one of the WRC's classic locations since the country helped launch the championship in 1973. This year’s edition is once again based in the north-west city of Matosinhos, just north of the great port wine-producing city of Porto.

After Thursday night’s start ceremony in Coimbra, the country’s fourth-largest city and former capital, the action begins on Friday morning with with double passes of Lousã (12.03km), Góis (19.33km) and the classic Arganil (18.72km), separated by a tyre fitting zone in Arganil itself.

The leg ends with a single run through Mortágua (18.15km) and a spectacular super special stage at Figueira da Foz (2.28km), which last featured on the itinerary way back in 1997.

It adds up to more than 120km of competition. With no service allowed until competitors return to Matosinhos in the evening, except for running repairs by the crews themselves using tools carried in their cars, mechanical issues could prove costly.

Saturday is also daunting, with almost 150km packed into two identical loops of three speed tests in the Cabreira Mountains, north-east of Matosinhos.

Drivers face double runs through Vieira do Minho (26.61km), Amarante - the longest stage of the weekend at 37.24km, and Felgueiras (8.91km). The loops are split by service before a spectacular side-by-side super special stage at the fan-favourite Lousada rallycross circuit (3.36km) rounds out the action.

Sunday’s itinerary is all about the extraordinary Fafe, its big jump before the finish and its crowds.

Four tests clustered around the town begin with Paredes (15.00km). Fafe (11.18km) and Cabeceiras de Basto (22.23km) are next up before a second pass through Fafe, the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage offering all-important bonus points.

The 19 stages cover 329.06km in a route of 1636.25km before Sunday afternoon’s finish in Matosinhos.