Rally Portugal

Preview: The Great Challenges On The Rally Portugal 2023

The WRC Rally Portugal is one of the oldest rallies in the world, with its first edition in 1967. Portuguese adventure has been a part of the World Rally Championship since its inception in 1973 and has been a favorite among drivers and fans alike for a reason. With many changes over the years, it has always been known for its challenging terrain and stunning scenery. That’s challenging; however, challenging a lot. Here are the tough calls our rally drivers will struggle on, and those make Rally Portugal 2023 so unique in the FIA World Rally championship.

Rally Portugal Hystory’s touch. 

First, rally Portugal has a great history. It’s an iconic place. So many legendary drivers take the podium, including Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, and Sébastien Loeb. Fast and technical stages make each driver has no other way than struggle every second here. As a result, crashes are a common thing at the Portuguese challenge of the WRC. 

from 2007 to 2014

Rally Portugal was remarkable to fans from 2007 to 2014 when Sébastien Ogier started to take his first steps in the World Rally Championship against mature Sébastien Loeb. Ogier straightened to be called a rally star after winning Rally Portugal in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014. In 2009 Jari-Matti Latvala got a horrific crash when he “plunged” into a 150-meter abyss and came out of the accident unharmed. 

No less thrilling was the fight for the lead in 2020, when Elfyn Evans finally won Rally Portugal. Remarkably, Elfyn Evans is traditionally compelling in Portugal. However, rushing to return a former glory, Rovanperä desires to fix the state of affairs.

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In 2022 Kalle Rovanperä raced against his teammate in Toyota Elfyn Evans until the final stage. Finnish rally driver bit the tens and claimed victory at the Power Stage. 

There are no easy wins in Portugal. That is the main lesson from the past. 

Rally Portugal 2023 roads’ surface is a riddle.

Rally Portugal, or Vodafone Rally de Portugal 2023, is the fifth round of the season and the second gravel rally on our calendar. Honestly, that is not always gravel, but it’s a mix. The surface of roads on Rally Portugal is a complex blend of different layers that will change hard due to the daytime, weather, and other factors. 

Thus, rally drivers early starters will meet the sandy roads that ensure grip is at a premium. But it’s more prevalent because the surface degrades to unearth sharp rocks and deep ruts. The more drivers pass – the worse grip. The key to successfully passing this challenge is to find the best high of the rally car to avoid damage, which will be hard to avoid. 

Moreover, the stages are fast and technical. That is where precision and skill from the drivers are crucial. 

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Back to the surface, sometimes it rains, and everything drivers know about gravel loses sense as gravel becomes mud. According to the last forecast, the weather in Portugal will be cheerful, +20C on average. No precipitation, but there will be wind. 

However, it doesn’t mean there will be no mud face at the route of Rally Portugal in 2023. 

An iconic Fafe on Rally Portugal in 2023

Rallye de Portugal 2022 - Varzea Cova/Fafe
photo: openverse

 After all, if all of the above doesn’t sound convincing, then just think about Fafe. What is Fafe? In simple, it is the jump before the finish on the Power Stage. In a complete sense, it’s incredible and extraordinary; Fafe is a picturesque place where rally cars and drivers are at the limit of their power and make the last breakthrough to finish the rally.  Fafe is one of the best in WRC rally jumps areas.

Including the Fafe stage, there are three unmissable destinations on the route of the Rally Portugal 2023. First is the traditional opening ceremony on Thursday in Coimbra. An excellent opportunity to understand the rally driver’s mood and Portugal vibes through the celebration’s atmosphere. 

The second is about picturesque views of the streets of Matosinhos city, including the Douro River, crossed by the iconic metal arch bridge and lined by port houses.

Thus, the main action starts on Friday. The first half of the day is full of unforeseen technical issues that will cost a lot for each error because the nearest time to service in Matosinhos is scheduled only for the evening. 

Saturday is the longest-distance day or, better to say, the “Day of the endurance check.” Rally drivers will pass with almost 150km packed into two identical loops of three-speed tests in the Cabreira Mountains. 

Overall we have 19 stages covering 329.06km in a route of 1636.25km before Sunday. The final day starts with great expectations around Fafe, the third key of the route to focus on, and a fantastic finish. You can check the entire route on WRC official

Toyota Yaris WRC - Kalle Rovanperä
photo: openverse

Leading contenders to win Rally Portugal 2023 

As I noted, both Toyota drivers, Elfyn Evans and Kale Rovanperä, are skilled here. It’s enough to take a good gap immediately at the start. However, other drivers will make their path more difficult. Thus, if M-Sport is good with the reliability of their Purple Pumas, then Ott Tanak has an excellent chance to win or to take the podium, at least. Hyundai’s star, Thiery Neuville, also has a perfect opportunity to claim the victory. But the issue is the same. The hybrid Rally1 cars and tire strategy will be crucial for the team. If all works, we will undoubtedly see Huyndai drivers at the podium. However, Toyota is still mighty; their cars are fast enough for the maximal attack under different conditions, whether graver or mud. Their advantage is an undebatable thing. 

Rally Portugal
Photo by Pedro Barros/ Unsplash

Spectator Tips for Rally Portugal 2023

If you plan on attending Rally Portugal 2023, keep a few things in mind to ensure you have the best experience possible. Here are some tips for spectators:

  • – Plan ahead: Make sure you know the schedule and route of the rally so you can plan your day accordingly. Remember the rally map, and do not forget Matosinhos is the epicenter of the Rally Portugal 2023 event.  
  • – Dress appropriately: Despite the forecast, the weather in Portugal can be unpredictable. Make sure you dress in layers and bring rain gear, just in case.
  • – Stay in designated areas: Make sure you stay in the designated spectator areas and follow the instructions of marshals and officials.
  • – Bring binoculars: The stages can be long and narrow, so bringing binoculars can help you get a better view of the action.
  • – Stay hydrated: Bring plenty of water and snacks to energize you throughout the day.

Rally Portugal 2023 Schedule

THURSDAY 11 MAYLOCAL TIME
CEREMONIAL START FROM COIMBRA20:15
FRIDAY 12 MAYLOCAL TIME
GOOD MORNING RALLY FANS FROM COIMBRA09:00
SS 1 LOUSA 109:05
SS 2 GOIS 110:05
SS 3 ARGANIL 111:05
STUDIO FROM TYRE FITTING ZONE – ARGANIL11:54
BREAK12:30
GOOD AFTERNOON RALLY FANS – STUDIO FROM EXPONOR SP13:30
SS 4 LOUSA 213:35
SS 5 GOIS 214:35
SS 6 ARGANIL 215:35
BREAK16:30
SS 7 MORTAGUA17:05
BREAK18:00
SS 8 FIGUEIRA DA FOZ (SSS) – TV LIVE WF119:00
SATURDAY 13 MAYLOCAL TIME
SS 9 VIEIRA DO MINHO 1 – TV LIVE WF207:30
BREAK08:30
SS 10 AMARANTE 109:05
BREAK10:15
STUDIO FROM EXPONOR SERVICE PARK10:30
SS 11 FELGUEIRAS 110:35
BREAK11:15
FLEXI SV B FROM EXPONOR SERVICE PARK12:45
BREAK13:30
SS 12 VIEIRA DO MINHO 2 – TV LIVE WF315:00
BREAK16:00
SS 13 AMARANTE 216:35
BREAK17:45
SS 14 FELGUEIRAS 218:05
BREAK18:45
SS 15 LOUSADA SSS – TV LIVE WF419:00
BREAK20:00
MEDIA ZONE & FLEXI SERVICE C FROM EXPONOR SP20:30
SUNDAY 14 MAYLOCAL TIME
SS 16 PAREDES07:05
BREAK08:00
SS 17 FAFE 1 – TV LIVE WF508:30
SS 18 CABECEIRAS DE BASTO09:35
STUDIO FROM EXPONOR SERVICE PARK10:15
BREAK10:30
SS 19 FAFE 2 (WOLF POWER STAGE) – TV LIVE WF612:00
WRAP UP SHOW FROM FAFE POWER STAGE13:30

Instead of conclusion

WRC Rally Portugal 2023 will continue its good tradition as one of the most thrilling events in the FIA World Rally Championship. It is iconic, challenging, and a pretty unpredictable adventure, especially for the drivers. How will this weekend be, and who will win? Surely we will know. 

Rally Portugal is an event you must see your own eyes first instead of any other way. While Fafe is the place to be, whether you’re a die-hard fan or just looking for an unforgettable experience.