Rally de Portugal's history starts in 1975, succeeding to Rally TAP, with an organization by Automóvel Club de Portugal. The names of the most famous international rally drivers are written in its ranking (Photos from Martin Holmes and Interslide)
An history made of 48 editions
Founded in 1903, Automóvel Club de Portugal (ACP) has always paid a very special attention to motorsport in Portugal and it is responsible for the organisation of the most important events from the international calendars.
It was no surprise that, in 1967, ACP put on the road the first edition of the TAP Rally, a competition which, within a short time, conquered enormous international prestige and, only six years later, joined the first World Rally Championship.
TAP Rally, and later Portugal Rally, has been responsible for glorious pages of success in World Championship history, having been awarded for five times the title of “Best Rally in the World”. In 2000, it was considered “The Most Improved Rally of the Year”.
After having been withdrawn from the WRC calendar by FIA, the new ACP board, formed after President Carlos Barbosa’s election, worked very hard from 2004 to put the Rally de Portugal back in the WRC calendar, what was achieved in 2007, with the Algarve roads as scenery.
As a result of the events rotation within the WRC calendar, Portugal Rally has been out of the 2008 Championship, but was back in 2009, receiving the unanimous applause from drivers, sporting authorities and Media.
After a decade in the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo, of which seven years as part of the WRC calendar, and more than ten years since the last visit of the World Rally Championship to the Entre Douro e Minho region, the Vodafone Rally de Portugal returns to the North of the country in 2015. This will offer the WRC present stars the opportunity of experiencing first hand all the emotions and difficulties which have made the ACP event a mythical one.
Presenting itself once again as the true start of the World Championship, after the Winter asphalt round of Monte Carlo, the snow from Sweden, and the flyaway rounds of Mexico and Argentina, the 2015 Vodafone Rally de Portugal will also represent a different challenge to drivers, for it will be the first brand new round of the WRC in the last three years.
Brief summary of the 2014 event
As in the two previous years, the Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia team drove the Volkswagen Polo R WRC to victory at the 2014 Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Not satisfied, and on their way to the second World crown, the French team also won the Power Stage, scoring, for the second time in the season, the total of points available.
Winning eight of the 16 stages, Ogier started the rally on the attack to leave Lisbon as leader, but the second day was punctuated by highs and lows. Third overall after SS3, behind Dani Sordo and Ott Tänak, the French fought back during the afternoon to get back the first position. However, he would, once again, be relegated to third by the end of the day, this time with Mikko Hirvonen leading the pack and Tänak again in second.
The second leg started without changes, but with the World Champion climbing up the chart to get back to first, a position we wouldn’t surrender. Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala drove very fast in an attempt to get back the time he had lost in the previous day due to a spectacular crash.
At the same time, the podium started to gain shape behind the French. The Fin Hirvonen was a solid second at the wheel of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, while Estonian Tänak blocked the stage after having crashed his Fiesta RS WRC, thus having put an end to his hopes to be among the top 3 in Portugal. The Norge Mads Østberg was the one who benefited the most with the crash, having taken his Citroën DS3 WRC to the last step of the podium.
With the top 3 settled, the event saw very interesting duels for the remaining positions, with Andreas Mikkelsen (VW Polo R WRC) and Henning Solberg (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) completing the top 5. Nasser Al-Attiyah (Ford Fiesta RRC) won the WRC2, while Stéphane Lefèbvre (Citroën DS3 R3T) was the strongest amongst the WRC3 and, at the same time, the Junior WRC. As far as the home drivers are concerned, Pedro Meireles (Skoda Fabia S2000) was the winner of the national event, although the best Portuguese on the Rally was Bernardo Sousa, who drove his Ford Fiesta RRC to the 15th spot overall, fifth amongst the WRC2.
Podium – Drivers
Podium – Cars