The first day of Rally Portugal is done and dusted, but the longest day – Saturday – now lies in wait,
To discover what’s in store, we’ve once again lent on WRC2 driver Sean Johnston’s expertise as he recced the stages ahead of a weekend of training and spectating the classic event.
SS9/12 Vieira do Minho (12.82 miles)
After a short climb to get things started, this stage is most memorable for the crazy large boulders that line the road for several kilometers in the middle section. Many famous Rally Portugal pictures have been taken here with some spectacular jumps and fast but technical corners through this boulder field.
SS10/13 Cabeceiras de Basto (13.9 miles)
The least enjoyable stage to recce this week. The first few kilometers had deep mud ruts that were destabilizing for the recce car at 49mph, so it will be fascinating to see how the road has evolved. Lots of question marks, and I’m curious to see how the crews get on.
After this section, the road opens up to a beautiful, wide, consistent surface with great rhythm before a hairpin right back onto a loose and muddy surface for several kilometers. The stage ends with a relatively fast descent with a few tight and technical corners right before the flying finish.
SS11/14 Amarante (23.56 miles)
Amarante, the true endurance test of the weekend! This is far and away the longest stage of the rally, and has a great mix of different styles of road. It starts out relatively forested but with a nice wide road with good rhythm; several miles of asphalt in the middle of the stage will be a unique challenge here as well. There’s also tons of driving up along the ridge which should be enjoyable for the crews and make for beautiful helicopter shots. The last mile or so sees the crews tackle some of the steepest descending of the whole rally with a flying finish that’s in a braking zone, so trying to eke out those last few tenths could make for some spicy moments after the finish line!
SS15: SSS Porto – Foz (2.05 miles)
Another superspecial to end the day just like on Friday, but this one is more tricky as it’s held on the streets. As the old saying goes, the crews won’t be able to win the rally here but they could certainly lose it.