A tasty morsel ahead of Rally Portugal and the most beautiful stop-off of the season: on their way to the fourth event in the WRC calendar in the south of Portugal, world champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and their Polo R WRC are taking part in the famous “Fafe Rally Sprint” (29 March) in the north of the country, before their journey takes them further south towards the Algarve, where Rally Portugal will be staged a few days later.
Last year Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) piloted the only Polo R WRC in the field and secured themselves fourth place. However, the final positions are of less significance on this occasion, as the most important thing here is the pulsating entertainment for the fans. More than 100,000 are expected for the exhibition event in northern Portugal. Even though the 6.34-kilometre Lameirinha stage no longer forms part of Rally Portugal, it does play a spectacular role in ushering in the rally week.
“We are very excited to be entering the Fafe for the second time,” according to Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The Rally Sprint is the most spectacular and emotional way to start a rally week. Long jumps in front of hundreds of thousands of fans – what more could you ask for? We want to take advantage of this opportunity for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia to put on a really great show for the euphoric fans and drum up even more enthusiasm for Rally Portugal.”
“I’m very excited to be taking part in the ‘Fafe Rally Sprint’ for the first time,” according to Sébastien Ogier. “I have heard a lot from other the drivers and our Portuguese mechanics about the famous jumps. I’ve also seen pictures with the thousands of fans from 2013. It seems like an incredible atmosphere and I love the dual nature of it. Of course we will give it our best shot in front of so many fans.
Teams have to fight it out during two qualifying rounds to make it into the final of the “Fafe Rally Sprint”. Whoever clocks the fastest time will be crowned champion. In addition, there is the unofficial, but much beloved by the fans, distance jump over one of the most challenging jumps of them all. The record distance of 73.5 m was set back in 2000 by Armin Schwarz in the Škoda Octavia WRC.
Following on from the “Fafe Rally Sprint” this Saturday, Rally Portugal kicks off with a 3.27-kilometre spectator stage on Thursday 03 April in Lisbon and finishes on the afternoon of Sunday 06 April with the presentation ceremony in the Estádio Algarve between Faro and Loulé.