The engines can already be heard at the WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal

The 57th edition of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal is underway. At Exponor, in Matosinhos, it was the day of the first administrative checks for several teams.

The engines have already been heard in the Monday Test, held in the Fafe area, with machines and drivers from WRC2. Today, recognition begins for the classifications in the Center and North of the country.

Most of the teams that will participate in the ACP competition have already set up their structures at the Exponor venue, in Matosinhos. The day was reserved for the first administrative checks, the reconnaissance session (optional) for the Baltar Shakedown, the Paredes stage and the Lousada Super-Special, and the official test that precedes the rally, the Monday Test, which, as usual, brought together mainly WRC2 machines and drivers, on the Lagoa section, in Fafe.

vodafone rally portugal exponor
Vodafone Rally de Portugal

The remaining teams are scheduled to arrive at Exponor today, on the same day that the mandatory reconnaissance begins for the sections in the Central region. On Wednesday, recognition will take place for the classifications in the North region.

With high temperatures forecast for the next few days, it is expected that the water left on the sections by the rain of recent weeks may dry, but leaving the floors more compacted than in last year’s edition.

The fifth event of the World Rally Championship, the Vodafone Rally de Portugal has the largest list of entries so far in the WRC season and is also eligible for the Portuguese Rally Championship.

vodafone rally portugal lousada
Vodafone Rally de Portugal

Emotion in perspective

Among the 69 registered teams, several natural candidates for victory stand out, such as the winner of the last editions of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, Kalle Rovanperä, who insisted on returning to the championship in Portugal. The same happens with his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate, Sébastien Ogier, the record holder for victories (five) in the race, who will try, once again, to break the tie with the historic mark he shares with Markku Alén. Toyota, in fact, appears at full strength in Portugal, as Elfyn Evans (currently second in the WRC) also wants to repeat his 2021 victory, and Takamoto Katsuta is looking for his first podium in the Portuguese race.

Leader of the Drivers’ World Championship, Thierry Neuville is the ‘spearhead’ of Hyundai Shell Mobis in the attack on the title and victory in Portugal. The Belgian, who has a six-point lead over Evans in the World Championship, is another former winner of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal (2018), like his teammate Ott Tänak (2019), who is trying to recover from a troubled start to the championship. The South Korean brand also brings veteran Dani Sordo, another specialist on the Portuguese stages and a chronic contender for podium places.

vodafone rally portugal monday test
Vodafone Rally de Portugal

On the M-Sport Ford side, great hopes fall on Adrien Fourmaux, one of the surprises of the season, who currently occupies third place in the World Championship. The Frenchman has already achieved two podiums this year, in Sweden and at Safari–Kenya, naturally having greater aspirations than his young teammate, Grégoire Munster.

In the extensive and competitive WRC2 squad, where cars from the Rally2 category line up, there is great expectation for the battle between Yohan Rossel (Citroën) and Oliver Solberg (Skoda), who share the championship lead, joined by names like Nikolay Gryazin ( Citroën), Pepe López (Ford) or Sami Pajari (Toyota), and drivers who have already ridden in Rally1 in the premier category, such as Teemu Suninen (Hyundai), Pierre-Louis Loubet (Skoda) and Gus Greensmith (Skoda).

In the Portuguese Rally Championship, Kris Meeke (Hyundai) has dominated operations but will have to ‘survive’ the toughness of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, which awarded its scores to the CPR at the end of the ninth stage, on Friday. Armindo Araújo (Skoda), Lucas Simões (Ford), Ricardo Teodósio (Hyundai), José Pedro Fontes (Citroën), Pedro Almeida (Skoda) and Ernesto Cunha (Skoda) will also try to shine in the most special rally of the year. In the CPR 2 Rodas Motrizes, the leader is Hugo Lopes (Peugeot), although the defending champion, Gonçalo Henriques (Renault), is also a natural favourite to win.

vodafone rally portugal ogier
Vodafone Rally de Portugal

Where to see the show safely

To feel the adrenaline of the big machines live, the organization released a GPS navigation platform with instructions on how to get to each of the 39 Show Zones. Everyone’s safety is fundamental to the great party that is the WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

This year’s edition, the route of which you can see in detail in this video, will once again have its ceremonial start in Coimbra, on Thursday, May 9, inaugurating a route that includes 22 stages (the highest number since 2012) and that crosses 15 municipalities in the Center and North regions of the country: Amarante, Arganil, Cabeceiras de Basto, Coimbra, Fafe, Felgueiras, Figueira da Foz, Góis, Lousada, Lousã, Matosinhos, Mondim de Basto, Mortágua, Paredes and Vieira do Minho.

Between Thursday and Sunday, the Assistance Park at Exponor has free access to the public, at the following times:

09/05 – Thursday
– Opening: 10:00 am
– Closing: 09:00 pm
10/05 – Friday
– Opening: 10:00 am
– Closing: 24:00
11/05 – Saturday
– Opening: 10:00 am
– Closing: 24:00
12/05 – Sunday
– Opening: 09:00
– Closing: 02:00 pm

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