Where better to kick off a new era than on gravel roads in the beautiful countryside of the Iberian Peninsula? It’s been a long wait since the engines went silent after last year’s championship finale, but the ERC is roaring back into action.
Based out of Fafe’s Parque da Cidade, the rally takes in a host of legendary stages as it visits the municipalities of Felgueiras, Serra da Cabreira and Boticas.
A return to its traditional March date following last year’s October fixture brings slightly cooler temperatures. But don’t worry - the action will be just as hot.
Friday afternoon begins with Free Practice, followed by the Qualifying Stage from 1500hrs. ERC priority drivers will tackle the 3.04km Lagoa warm-up against the clock, with start order selection taking place at 1800hrs.
SS1 gets underway on Friday evening with the brand-new Fafe (1.43km) superspecial stage. Crews will negotiate cobbled streets with hairpin turns as well as performing a donut in front of thousands of fans in the town centre.
Saturday’s leg journeys north-east of the town for two loops of four gravel speed tests, split by a return to service in Fafe.
First up is Boticas (15.05km). It is followed by a new stage at Cabeceiras de Basto (10.84km), which incorporates sections previously used in the WRC’s Rally de Portugal.
Up next is Vieira do Minho - the longest test of the rally at 16.93km - and finally Luílhas (11.86km), the second pass of which will be driven under darkness by crews running further down the order.
Four stages - each driven twice and divided by service - make up Sunday’s finale. The action resumes with Montim (8.73km) and Seixoso (9.97km), followed by Santa Quitéria (9.18km), which remains unchanged from last year’s route.
Lameirinha (14.83km) rounds out both loops. The second passage forms the bonus points-paying Power Stage, which is another new feature for the 2022 championship.
Titled Fafe on Rally de Portugal, Lameirinha makes for a very fitting finale. A fan-favourite, it includes a short asphalt section where drivers have been known to perform donuts for the crowds and comes complete with the famous Pedra Sentada jump.
The 17 stages cover 196.21km in a total route of 783.55km.
- Full coverage from Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.