Wed 15 May 2024

WRC fever: Rally de Portugal draws over 800,000 fans

Last week’s fifth round of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship attracted over 800,000 people to the stages and service park of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Several prominent figures in the WRC, including Group B legend Michèle Mouton, believe that this year’s rally attracted more spectators than ever before.

The service park in the coastal city of Matosinhos was a bustling hive of activity throughout the week and, on the special stages - which journeyed across several municipalities - the rally reached even more people – so much so that local schools even closed to allow students to witness the action first-hand.

Mouton, who was undertaking her role as FIA safety delegate, was awe-struck by the passionate display of fans at Sunday’s Fafe stage, which featured the famous Pedra Santada jump.

“This year,” she said, “I witnessed an unprecedented number of spectators at the stages of Rally de Portugal, particularly in Fafe.

“The crowds on both sides of the iconic jump before the finish were truly impressive. Typically, we expect around 100,000 spectators for the 11 kilometres, but it seems there were even more this year.

“Our sport enjoys immense popularity here, and it has always been that way. The atmosphere was just incredible,” she added.

Vodafone Rally de Portugal stands as one of the largest sporting events in the country, injecting upwards of 60 million Euros into the nation's economy.

Agreeing with Mouton’s sentiments, Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latala quipped: “Even I can feel a little bit like an old star here because the people are asking for autographs and photos with me.

“It’s great. I mean, the passion here for rallying is unique and if we don’t have people like this, we don’t have a passion. This is something which creates the great elements for the top of the sport – it’s the people.”

Toyota driver Elfyn Evans, a past winner of the event, enthused: “It’s always been a popular, but [this year] it’s been pretty special. It’s been a really great turnout and we should be coming to more locations like this, where there’s such a passion for rallying.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM