Welcome to Rally Flashback, where we look back to a previous edition of the upcoming round of the World Rally Championship. This weekend it is back to Europe, with the classic event of Rally Portugal.
As you might know, Rally Portugal was taken off the WRC calendar after the horrible conditions in 2001, which followed years of questionable crowd control. After some years in the southern part of the country, WRC returned to the classical stages in the Fafe region last year. In 2000 the conditions were tricky as well, but at least the dust and loose sand were expected. In general the rally is known for an immense amount of spectators both on the super special stage at the rallycross circuit in Lousada and on the main stages. The conditions change from smooth sandy roads to rutted tracks with bigger stones, sometimes even from the first to the second pass of the stage! Being first on the road can be both good and bad in this rally.
Back in 2000 four times World Champion Tommi Mäkinen was leading the championship coming into this rally, with the Mitsubishi driver winning both in Monte Carlo and Sweden. The Safari Rally was won by the still improving Richard Burns, who would drive a brand new Subaru in Portugal. The hard charging Ford team had two of the biggest stars of the sport in Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, as well as Petter Solberg as their junior driver. With lackluster results in the first three events, both Sainz and McRae were looking to improve their season progress in Portugal while Solberg was free to drive as he pleased. Could any of them beat Mäkinen or Burns?
Peugeot was in their first season with their new 206 WRC, and could be considered a dark horse in terms of the overall championship with Marcus Grönholm as their leading driver as well as Francois Delecour bringing both madness and experience to the team. Also coming into the WRC is Hyundai, but without any good results so far. Perhaps expected with Kenneth Eriksson and Alister McRae as their drivers, but reliability issues were also part of the reason. why. Skoda continued with Armin Schwarz and Luis Climent, while Seat opted for Toni Gardemeister and Didier Auriol.
Also in this video is Freddy Loix in Mitsubishi, Harri Rovanperä and Markko Märtin in privateer Toyotas and Juha Kankkunen in Subaru among other drivers. While not featured in the highlights, Henning Solberg is the only driver to enter both in 2000 and 2016. To get warmed up for the rally, here is the BBC coverage with Mark James and Tiff Needell:
The 2016 version of the rally will start today with SSS1 Live on WRC+, and there are also three more live stages this weekend.