Fafe stages canceled due to rain and fog

Mads Østberg leads from Mikko Heikkilä and Craig Breen as bad weather hits European Rally Championship opener

FIA European Rally Championship 2023 Stop 1 – Fafe, Portugal

Both passes of Vieira do Minho, which was set to host stage five and the finale stage nine on Rally Serras de Fafe, have been canceled due to deteriorating weather conditions in the area.

The first three stages of the day had a mix of rain, sun and fog, with the first pass of Cabeceiras de Basto really testing the drivers with low cloud and a very muddy surface.

Mads Østberg currently leads the rally by 1.1 seconds over Mikko Heikkilä after taking the lead on stage four, although he suggested the surface was not suitable to drive on given the rain and fog.

FIA European Rally Championship 2023 Stop 1 - Fafe, Portugal

“It’s quite OK, the stage was very tricky, but I was expecting it,” he said. “There was no surprises so to say, but it’s not normal to drive rally cars in this weather, but you have to stick with it and listen to the co-driver.”

The first stage of the day also had wet conditions, and Craig Breen was left frustrated by his choice of road order, and even had a brief excursion when he overshot a corner and was forced to reverse.

“I made a stupid mistake last night with the road position, I had very little range overnight and very little range this morning,” he said.

The Hyundai driver currently sits third and 7.5s off the lead, after winning the first pass of Boticas/Senhor do Monte.

Last night’s stage winner Ricardo Teodósio, who seemed to enjoy the wet conditions thrown up in the Fafe superspecial, was not so keen on today’s weather.

“Impossible, there was fog, raining,” he explained. “It moves like butter.”

The next stage scheduled to run after the cancellation of Vieira do Minho is due to start at 2:39pm local time.