An history made of 50 editions
Founded in 1903, Automóvel Club de Portugal (ACP) has always paid a very special attention to motorsport in Portugal and it is responsible for the organisation of the most important events from the international calendars.
It was no surprise that, in 1967, ACP put on the road the first edition of the TAP Rally, a competition which, within a short time, conquered enormous international prestige and, only six years later, joined the first World Rally Championship.
TAP Rally, and later Portugal Rally, has been responsible for glorious pages of success in World Championship history, having been awarded for five times the title of “Best Rally in the World”. In 2000, it was considered “The Most Improved Rally of the Year”.
After having been withdrawn from the WRC calendar by FIA, the new ACP board, formed after President Carlos Barbosa’s election, worked very hard from 2004 to put the Rally de Portugal back in the WRC calendar, what was achieved in 2007, with the Algarve roads as scenery.
As a result of the events rotation within the WRC calendar, Portugal Rally has been out of the 2008 Championship, but was back in 2009, receiving the unanimous applause from drivers, sporting authorities and Media.
After a decade in the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo, the Rally de Portugal returned to its traditional scenario, the North of the country, where it will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.
Brief summary of the 2016 event
Few new what could be expected before the star of the 50th Rally de Portugal, except for the strong emotions that it would arouse. And the truth is the public was not let down by another fantastic Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
At the start, and just like three of the previous four rounds of the 2016 WRC, Sébastien Ogier took the lead by winning the Lousada Super Special, but that wouldn’t last. Right at the start of Day 2, Kris Meeke, which was competing for the third time in the season, took the first spot. The Brit, coming from a withdraw and a 23rd place, drove fast with his Citroën DS3 in what was another event to prepare the 2017 WRC season. He took another four stage wins and not even the 5th and 8th places at the Porto Street Stage were enough to take him from the lead. On Day 3 Meeke started, once again, strong and only when he had assured a comfortable margin, by Saturday’s early afternoon, did he slow down a bit and started to manage the advantage towards his first win in Portugal, the second of the career.
Meanwhile, the French lost ground, in good part due to being the first on the road. Ogier would managed to get back up to second place, but a puncture on his Polo R WRC in Vieira do Minho 1 was determinant for his third place at the end of the rally, even dough two victories and two second places on Sunday’s four stages. Teammate Andreas Mikklesen took the best advantage of Ogier’s misfortune. The Norwegian, which drove as low as seventh, realised a well thought event to end in a deserved second spot.
As for Hayden Paddon, a crash followed by fire in Ponte de Lima 2 dictated the early end of the rally, with the i20 WRC completely burned to the ground. An unfortunate end for the Kiwi after registering his first career win in Argentina.
In the WRC2 the victory went to Pontus Tidemand, with Simone Tempestini imposing himself in the WRC3 and also in the Junior WRC. Osian Pryce won the Drive Dmack Cup, while the best Portuguese driver was Miguel Campos, 14th overall.