Portugal week. Right about now the World Rally Championship was scheduled to arrive back in Europe for the first time since February. Unfortunately, but for good reason, nobody’s going anywhere and the Automóvel Club de Portugal has already made the decision to cancel the 2020 event due to the coronavirus.
Like we did with what would have been SpeedAgro Rally Argentina week last month, DirtFish will endeavor to bring you some of the highlights that make Rally of Portugal special, year-in-year-out.
We’ll be looking back at some of the most memorable highlights of what was one of the founding rounds of the World Rally Championship back in 1973. But Portugal’s rallying history doesn’t start there, so we’ll go back even further and trace this event from its beginning in 1967.
And it hasn’t always been pretty. Nobody can forget what happened when Joaquim Santos’s Ford RS200 slid off the road in Sintra, leaving three dead at the scene and more than 30 injured. We’ll consider that accident and the implications it had for the rally and Group B.
Fifteen years on from that fateful 1986 event, Portugal lost its round of the championship and remain ostracized from the WRC for the next six years. Some blamed the weather and, in fairness, it did rain harder and longer that season – but there were other reasons for Portugal’s downfall.
In a special podcast, Colin Clark will talk to ace McKlein photographer Colin McMaster about his memories of that 2001 event. And, of course, we’ll hear plenty from former Mitsubishi team manager George Donaldson about the part he played in winning what was one of the most difficult rallies in the championship for years.
And, don’t forget, we will be running our virtual Rally of Portugal result. The plan is a simple one: you nominate your Portugal top six positions and we offer six points for the winner down to a single point for sixth place. Last time out you had Ott Tänak scoring his maiden Hyundai victory in Villa Carlos Paz. Who will you help celebrate – virtually – in Matosinhos on Sunday?
Like you, we’re missing Portugal this week. None of us can be there, so stick with DirtFish for the next best thing.