Wed 16 Mar 2022

Vilarino emotional after replicating hero Colin McRae

Luis Vilariño said he was “emotional” after completing his first run through the famous Lameirinha stage on Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas last Sunday.

The mainly gravel stage is part of rallying folklore and a much-used stage on Rally de Portugal, the country’s FIA World Rally Championship counter. 

Vilariño revealed he visited Lameirinha – known as Fafe in the WRC – back in 1997, when he was a student in his native Spain, to watch his hero Colin McRae in action. He said the opportunity to drive the very same stages as the legendary Scot, who won Rally de Portugal in 1998 and 1999, was one of the highlights of his career.

“It was very special for me because 25 years ago, when I was a student of engineering I go with my friends from university to Fafe for the first time to see the first rally with the World Rally Car,” Vilariño said. “I remember running from the mountains to see Colin McRae and it was great. I had never seen this before, but Colin is always in my memories from this rally and other rallies. It’s necessary to remember Colin and it’s special to speak about him because he was the best of the best. And to drive on the same roads as him was incredible, I did my best not to crash on the famous jump.”

Despite Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas marking Vilariño’s third start on gravel, the 48-year-old impressed by finishing 11th among the FIA European Rally Championship contenders in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo shared with co-driver Jarvier Martínez.

“It was very difficult [on the Sunday morning] because on the first stage [of the loop] I broke a shock absorber in the [right rear] of the car so it was more difficult,” Vilariño explained. “But I knew it was important to finish the rally and to have some points so I concentrated to finish the rally and enjoy the special stages. This was only my third gravel rally and I was learning a lot. With the [shock absorber problem] it was hard in the left-hand corners.”

Vilariño and Martínez will be back on ERC duty at the Azores Rallye next week (25-27 March).

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