Friday March 11
Once reconnaissance has been completed, Rally2 drivers tackle Free Practice and the Qualifying Stage from 13h00 local time with all other drivers completing their pre-rally preparations during Shakedown, which gets underway at 16h30. The Start Order Selection for Rally2 drivers is from 18h00 with Rua Angelo Medon hosting the start from 21h03 ahead of the Fafe Super Special Stage going live at 21h08.
Saturday March 12
Leg one takes crews northeast of the event’s host town to the Alto Tâmega region and the Boticas municipality for the day-opening 15.05-kilometre stage of the same name from 09h00 local time. It’s off next to the Serra da Cabreira for the new Cabeceiras Basto stage, a 10.84-kilometre test, from 10h17. The itinerary then takes competitors north to the 16.93-kilometre Vieira do Minho run, a slightly shortened version of last season’s Sra da Fé / Anjos and the longest of the rally, which comes complete with “very fast parts”, according to three-time event winner Bruno Magalhães. A reworked version of Luilhas completes the loop ahead of service in Fafe. The morning’s four stages are repeated in the afternoon from 15h09 with the first crews due back in Fafe for end-of-day service from 19h08.
Sunday March 13
The ERC season opener concludes with the same four stages that decided last year’s Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras, albeit in a tweaked order. It means the 8.73 kilometres of Montim now opens the action from 08h08 followed by Seixoso (9.97 kilometres) and the 9.18-kilometre Sta Quitéria test, which last season followed the exact same route as was used on the WRC-counting Vodafone Rally de Portugal. The famous Lameirinha stage, consisting of almost 15 kilometres of arduous, twisting gravel action, completes the morning loop and forms the ERC’s inaugural Power Stage when the morning stages are repeated in the afternoon following service in Fafe from 11h19. The Lameirinha Power Stage measures 14.83 kilometres in length and is due to begin at 15h08h. It includes the iconic Pedra Sentada jump, which follows a short asphalt section – one of a handful on the run – and has been part of rallying folklore for decades. The landing is located almost in sight of the stage finish, where the Power Stage podium will be housed. Fafe’s City Hall hosts the finishing ceremony and prize giving from 17h50.