The World Rallycross Championship caravan comes back from the scenic Argentinian landscapes to another gruelling event replete of fans in Portugal. The 2016 edition of Rally of Portugal will repeat the scheme of last years event, that marked the return to the northern stages. The competitors will face 368 km of stages, running through the mass-crowded Lousada Rallycross Circuit, the tough Marão mountain stage and the newly introduced Porto Street Stage. The last one is a one of a kind on the world championship events, and Automóvel Club de Portugal (ACP) is making a strong bet for a huge success. For the end of the rally another charismatic stage: Lameirinha, with its both huge jumps and the tarmac crossing of Confurco is going to set the traditional Power Stage extra points.
WRC Rally of Portugal: will Sebastien Ogier take Home its Fifth win?
The Volkswagen Team keeps motivated, while the fast French keeps on the head of the championship with 96 points. This is a huge advantage for the strong paced ‘kiwi’ Haydn Paddon who runs a Hyundai WRC and won the latest WRC event. However, in this duel a new contender from the Ford M-Sport Team may have a word to say: Mads Ostberg that is doing an extremely regular 2016 season. With a disappointing year the second driver from Volkswagen Team, Jari Matti Latvala, can sign a good performance on this event, as last year he beat the French WRC Champion – and also his team mate – Sebastien Ogier. The Abu Dhabi Rally Team is also in the shade, with Craig Breen, Stephane Lefebvre and Kriss Meeke only to each finish one race in their DS3 WRC. Also with a one finish result, ‘Prada’s Boy’ Lorenzo Bertelli will miss the WRC Rally of Portugal due to sustaining injuries during a football match with some friends in Italy.
Last year’s WRC Rally of Portugal had given Volkswagen Motorsport Team the best result to date on WRC, finishing 1-2-3. Although in 2016 the team’s performance level is aligned for more competition. We have assisted in the last events that the four brands (Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford and DS-Citroen) involved in the competition are serious candidates for first place. In the manufacturer’s championship Volkswagen is in the lead with 117 points, followed 36 points behind by Hyundai with 81 points using its very regular squad. Old days WRC ‘exclusive’ winners Citroen still haven’t scored any points, as Ford is in the 3rd position with 62 points.
We will have to wait for the next weekend to watch how these contenders will perform on the demanding Portuguese gravel stages. Meteorologists are expecting temperatures on the 21-30 degrees range on the north of Portugal during the WRC Rally of Portugal.