Loudon-clear guide to Rallye Portugal

Loudon-clear guide to Rallye PortugalFrom Tunnocks (Stuart Loudon) [ 14/05/2018 ].
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European gravel. At last. We've done the Alps, the deep-freeze, the thin air, the twists, the turns and the Andes (sort of). Now, as the World Rally Championship powers into the mid-section of the season, it's time to get on the loose in Europe. It's time for Rally of Portugal. One of the oldest, best-loved and popular rounds of the WRC, this Atlantic coast-based cracker is a quality mix of fast, technical, tricky stages and some of the best fish you'll eat in the whole wide world. This year's route is a virtual carbon copy of last year's, meaning a return to classics such as Ponte de Lima and, of course, a Sunday flight over Fafe…

Vodafone Rally de Portugal in detail
FIA World Rally Championship round 6/13
Date: Thursday May 17 - Sunday May 20
Based: Exponor,Matosinhos
Service: Exponor, Matosinhos
Stages: 20
Competitive distance: 358.19 (222.57 miles)
Liaison distance: 1224.89km (761.14 miles)
Total distance: 1583.08km (983.72 miles)
Shortest stage: SS8/9 Porto Street Stage 1.95km (1.21 miles)
Longest stage: SS12/15 Amarante 37.60km (23.36miles)
Currency: Euro
Time difference: UTC+1
Sunrise: 0612
Sunset: 2049

The 4.60km (2.85 miles) shakedown is located at Paredes, 43.85km (27.24 miles) from the service park in Matosinhos. The stage runs from 0730-1130 on Thursday May 17.

Vodafone Rally Portugal itinerary

Thursday May 17
SS1 Lousada 3.36km (2.08 miles) 1903

Friday May 18
SS2 Viana do Castelo 1 26.73km (16.61 miles) 0915
SS3 Caminha 1 18.11km (11.25 miles) 1020
SS4 Ponte de Lima 1 27.54km (17.11 miles) 1053
Service Exponor, Matosinhos1325
SS5 Viana do Castelo 2 26.73km (16.61 miles) 1525
SS6 Caminha 2 18.11km (11.25 miles) 1630
SS7 Ponte de Lima 2 27.54km (17.11 miles) 1703
SS8 Porto Street Stage 1 1.95km (1.21 miles) 1903
SS9 Porto Street Stage 2 1.95km (1.21 miles) 1928
Service Exponor, Matosinhos2000

Saturday May 19
SS10 Vieira do Minho 1 17.50km (10.87 miles) 0908
SS11 Cabeceiras de Basto 1 22.22km (13.80 miles) 0946
SS12 Amarante 1 37.60km (23.36 miles)1105
Service Exponor, Matosinhos1245
SS13 Vieira do Minho 2 17.50km (10.87 miles) 1508
SS14 Cabeceiras de Basto 2 22.22km (13.80 miles) 1546
SS15 Amarante 2 37.60km (23.36 miles)1705
Service Exponor, Matosinhos1850

Sunday May 20
SS16 Montim 1 8.64km (5.36 miles) 0835
SS17 Fafe 1 11.18km (6.94 miles) 0908
SS18 Luilhas 11.89km (7.38 miles) 0936
SS19 Montim 2 8.64km (5.36 miles) 1035
Regroup Fafe 1055
SS20 Fafe 2 11.18km (6.94 miles) 1218
Finish Matosinhos1420

2017 Vodafone Rally de Portugal result:
WRC:1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3h42m55.7s; 2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +15.6s; 3 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m01.7s
WRC2: Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Škoda Fabia R5).
WRC3Francisco Name/Armando Zapata (DS 3 R3T)

Running order:
1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC)
5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
8 Ott Tänak/Martin Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC)
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
16 Daniel Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
10 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC)
9 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC)
7 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
2 Elfyn Evans/Dan Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC)
11 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroën C3 WRC)
6 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
12 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC)

Leading WRC championship positions:
1 Ogier 100pts; 2 Neuville 90; 3 Tänak 72; 4 Mikkelsen 54; 5 Sordo 45; 6 Meeke 43; 7 Lappi 40; 8 Latvala 31; 9 Evans 26; 10 Breen 20, etc

Leading WRC2 runners:
31 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Škoda Fabia R5)
32 Gus Greensmith/Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5)
33 Pedro Heller/Pablo Olmos (Ford Fiesta R5)
35 Jari Huttunen/Antti Linnaketo (Hyundai i20 R5)
36 Fabio Andolfi/Simone Scattolin (Škoda Fabia R5)
37 Lukasz Pieniazek/Przemyslaw Mazur (Škoda Fabia R5)
38 Nil Solans/Miquel Ibañez (Ford Fiesta R5)
39 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Hyundai i20 R5)
40 Hiroki Arai/Glenn Macneall (Ford Fiesta R5)
41 Kevin Abbring/Pieter Tsjoen (Ford Fiesta R5)
42 Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroën C3 R5)

Leading WRC2 championship positions:
1 Tidemand 68pts; 2 Jan Kopecky 50; 3 Greensmith 36; 4 Heller 30; 5 Katsuta 29; 6 Ole Christian Veiby 27; 7 Solans 22; 8 5 Eddie Sciessere/Yoann Bonato 18, etc

Stuart Loudon's key stage: SS12 Amarante 1 37.60km (23.36 miles)

The longest stage of the Saturday loop - and it comes at the end, when the tyres will have already taken a bit of a pounding. Portugal's generally quite a soft surface, not so abrasive as Sardinia, but if the temperatures are up and knocking on the door of 30, this could be a tricky one.

Amarante is, of course, the stage which ruined Ott Tänak's hopes 12 months ago. He touched a bank and broke something on the Ford Fiesta WRC, ruling him out of a battle for what would have been his first win. He needn't have worried… that arrived on the very next round in Sardinia.

Stuart will be watching… #6 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Hayden's been away from the World Rally Championship since Rally Sweden in February - that's his longest time away from the WRC in five years. He'll be very, very keen to show the world what it's been missing.

There's no doubting his speed or the fact that he has earned his place in the world championship. It'll be great to see the world's only flying Kiwi back.

The good thing for Hayden is that he's done some driving at home in New Zealand in the interim. In fact, he's brought new meaning to the world 'domination' in the NZ Championship - winning every stage on the last two rallies in his Hyundai i20 AP4+. But now it's the time he and his co-driver Seb [Marhsall] have been waiting for. They're back where they belong.

As for Seb, he will have really missed the competition there's no doubt about that. But he's so professional and always at the top of his game in terms of preparation and fitness. These cars soon jump out on you a wee bit when you're back in there for the first time - but Seb's ready. Now let's have the result these boys deserve.

Weather with you:
Sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s are expected for the recce and much of rally week. There's a chance of some cloud coming in for the rally weekend, but it's still looking pretty dry.

Most successful driver on Vodafone Rally de Portugal:
Markku Alén/Sébastien Ogier (5 wins)