Flying to Fafe: ERC Q&A with Bruno Magalhaes
With a trio of Portuguese titles, a hat-trick of Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras victories and three FIA European Rally Championship event wins to his name, Team Hyundai Portugal’s Bruno Magalhães gets an all-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 for his home round of the ERC. This is what the 41-year-old has said.
You’re making your return to the ERC in the all-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2. How good is that?
“I don’t have so much information about the new car, my car is under construction at this moment, but I have seen it has been very fast with Jari Huttunen and Oliver Solberg in the world championship. The ERC regulations mean I can only make one day of testing so it’s not an ideal situation to try all the settings, but this is a very important step for me and for Hyundai Portugal because the potential of the car is very high. I’m now very curious to drive the car and understand the car.”
How is your season going in the Portuguese championship?
“We are again in the fight for the championship after the last two rounds were very good because we win some points from our opponents, so that’s good news with three rounds remaining.”
What’s your target for Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras?
“At the moment the Portuguese championship is the main goal and with three rallies left we need to be completely focused. But when I take part in the European championship, if I can be in the first position I will try. At the moment, I cannot say what position I am going to fight for because I don’t know exactly what I’m going to find when I drive the car and the level of the European championship is all the time very high.”
How good is it to be back in the ERC?
“Of course, it’s nice to be back in the European championship. Everybody knows it’s the championship I love so I would like to come back [full time] one day. Last year everything was confirmed but then we needed to cancel the programme because of the pandemic so it was a big disaster. It means it’s a pleasure to take part in the championship another time, even if this year it’s for one race.”
As three-time winner in Fafe, how would you describe the event and the challenge you face?
“This rally is in a very important part of our country because Fafe is very famous with a big history in the world championship. There are a lot of spectators and the atmosphere is always great for sure. The stages are very nice, very technical and normally with a lot of loose gravel on the road so it’s not good to be the first car. Some of the stages are the same as for Rally de Portugal but there are some new parts this year, Boticas is new for everybody for example, so it’s another challenge. In general, this rally is great, especially the second day with the famous jumps. Normally you don’t have so many problems with punctures because we don’t have so many stones on the road. I think it will be great for everybody.”
Many people talk about Lameirinha as the rally’s signature stage. What’s it like to drive on?
“This is the stage with the jumps. When you are on the starting line it’s a little bit like Sete Cidades on the Azores Rallye. I know I am starting a very famous stage that I am used to seeing on the television since I was a child. You feel something special because you know there are thousands of people and it’s always a special feeling when you drive there. The last jump is in the very famous part in Confurco. You come on the gravel, but you enter a little part of asphalt before you turn again on the gravel. It’s an amazing stage.”
What advice will you give André Villas-Boas, the famous football coach making his ERC debut?
“He’s doing the rally for charity reasons and will drive my old car if everything goes to plan. It’s a big pleasure for Hyundai to receive him because he’s very passionate about rallying. We know he wants to get to the finish and win some pleasure and for sure I will give him some advice. But I ask him if one day he will coach my team, Benfica, and all the time he says ‘no’ [because he is from Porto]. It’s really a joke between him and me.”