The Automóvel Club de Portugal, in close partnership with the Porto and North of Portugal Tourism Board and the support of 13 municipalities, present the route draft of the 2017 Rally de Portugal, which will be held from the 18th to the 21st May.
The project, presented today to constructors, maintains its structure, with the Service Park in Exponor, Matosinhos, but with several novelties which make it even more attractive to drivers and spectators.
With 2017 edition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Rally de Portugal, the organiser is working in several initiatives to commemorate the date.
The ratification of this draft should take place in December, at the FIA World Council.
Guimarães and Lousada mark the start once again
Guimarães will, once again, host the start of the Rally, with the castle as background. Meanwhile, Lousada will host the only Super Special of the event. It is, thus, the first opportunity for spectators to witness the 2017 WRC cars in action. As in previous editions, the Super Special programme will include the traditional classic sportive vehicles competition.
Before that, during the morning, the Shakedown, in Baltar, Paredes, will take place over a 4.6 km distance, with the last hundreds of meters to be driven inside the karting track.
Minho grows in importance
May 19th, the Rally’s first day of real competition, presents a totally renewed loop in which only the Alto Minho stage names remain the same.
Viana do Castelo is now the first test of the day, in a new version, with the length extended from 18.7 km to 26.7 km, making use of most of the previous version and adding three new sections representing a distance of 10.9 km. Access to the new star of the stage is made through the spectacular Santa Luzia climb, while the finish will be placed a bit before Afife village.
The Caminha stage, with a length of 18.1 km, will be run in the opposite direction in relation to the last two years of the Rally – the start is placed right before the Saim bridge and the finish is close to Orbacém.
Likewise, the Ponte de Lima test (27.5 km) will have its direction reversed; the start is located close to Montaria, and the finish is at the EN201 entrance, near Ponte de Lima.
The Friday double loop over these three stages represents a total of 144.5 km run against the clock, which represents a 16 km increase in the total distance in comparison to previous editions.
Adding to this, Braga presents itself as another novelty of the Rally. Held in the historical neighbourhood of the city, the test will be almost 1.9 km long which will be run twice in a “Street Stage” layout, just like the 2016 Porto Street Stage.
The Braga Street Stage will take place at the end of the day, with Recce being done at mid-day with drivers at the wheel of their respective racing cars. The time spanning between Recce and the Street Stage will offer several activities, amongst them a competition reserved for classic sportive vehicles.
Vieira do Minho, Cabeceiras de Basto and Amarante
Vieira do Minho (22.4 km) is now the first stage of the Saturday (May 20th) loop and also introduces several changes. Starting in Senhora da Fé and ending in Agra, the test presents two novelties: the route by the first Spectators Area, at the top of Senhora da Fé, has been changed, and there is a new jump right before the Campo de Tiro Spectators Area.
The Rally then proceeds to the Cabeceiras de Basto test (22.3 km), still in the Cabreira Mountain. This new stage alternates very fast areas with more technical ones. The start is held in the Veiga area and, after an initial 3.5 km which have not been part of the Rally since 2001, the stage will then make use of 7.5 km which integrated the 2015 Vieira do Minho stage. The second half of the test is totally new, ending near the Busteliberne village.
The loop finishes with the traditional Amarante stage which, with its 37.5 km, remains the longest of the Rally. Adding to the long millage, the test presents a variety of tracks and roads, making this stage one of the most demanding of the event. Both loops over the three Saturday stages add up to a total of 164.6 competitive km, a distance in line with the last two editions of the Rally.
Fafe finishes the Rally
The Sunday loop, May 21st, is also a novelty and presents itself as the Rally homage of Fafe: the municipality will host all stages of the Rally’s last day. Besides the traditional double passage over the Fafe/Lameirinha test (11.2 km), the last of which being the Power Stage, there are two new stages which were not used on the last two editions of the event: Luílhas, with an extension of 11.9 km, and Montim (8.7 km). The latter will be run on the opposite direction to what was usual, starting close to the village and ending at the entrance of Boucinha.
Last day’s four tests – two double passages over Fafe/Lameirinha and one over Luílas and Montim –sum up a total extension of 43 km. The Power Stage will be preceded by a regrouping in downtown Fafe.