The World Rally Championship’s 50th anniversary will be marked at next week’s Rally Portugal with a large gathering of world champions and iconic cars from the series’ history.
In what’s believed to be the biggest gathering of World Rally champions ever recorded, Walter Röhrl, Ari Vatanen, Miki Biasion, Carlos Sainz, Marcus Grönholm and Petter Solberg will all be in attendance along with Sébastien Loeb, Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak who are competing in the rally for M-Sport, Toyota and Hyundai respectively.
Representing the co-driver world champions will be FIA deputy president sport Robert Reid, Luis Moya, Christian Geistdörfer, Tiziano Siviero, Timo Rautiainen, Derek Ringer, David Richards and Martin Järveoja will all also be present.
WRC Ladies world champions Louise Aitken-Walker and Isolde Holderied, plus their co-drivers Tina Thörner, and Christine Driano will be there too along with Michèle Mouton and Fabrizia Pons – the only female pairing to win a WRC event outright.
But no celebration would be complete without star cars and nearly 30 iconic machines from all eras of the WRC’s storied history will be demonstrated as static displays as well as on some special stages too.
Festivities kick off with a gala dinner on Wednesday May 18 and will continue into Thursday when a parade of cars tackle the Coimbra superspecial stage.
Further displays and parades will take place at Lousada on Friday evening and Saturday night’s Porto-Foz street stage as well as the Fafe powerstage on Sunday.
“Everyone has their own memories of the thrills, spills and excitement from the WRC and this is a marvellous one-off opportunity for those who have helped make the championship so special,” said WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel.
“The list of WRC greats coming to Portugal, both human and mechanical, is mouth-watering and a reminder of what a wonderful sport we have the great fortune to be involved in.
“But this is also for the fans. The sights and sounds of great cars from yesteryear being driven through the stages will evoke spine-tingling memories from those watching roadside.”
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem added: “The FIA has continuously driven evolution in a sporting and technical sense: this year is no exception as the WRC ushers in hybrid technology, sustainable fuel and advanced safety measures.
“As the championship enters its 50th year, it’s time to reflect on those remarkable accomplishments, celebrate past and present champions and look ahead to a bright future.
“I look forward to the upcoming festivities at Rally de Portugal, where the legends will be reunited.”