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Wed 15 Feb 2023

New stage to challenge Fafe-bound ERC stars

A double pass of an all-new stage will be one of the highlights of Fafe’s FIA European Rally Championship season opener next month.

Officially named Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto, the event is scheduled to run from 10 - 12 March. 

While the bulk of the 17-stage route is similar to the 2022 edition, the inclusion of the 9.64-kilometre Boticas/Vale do Tâmega test will create an exciting level playing field as the ERC’s 70th-anniversary season begins.

Boticas/Vale do Tâmega will run twice on leg one with the first visit from 08h09 local time kicking off the action on Saturday 11 March. The second pass will follow from 14h39 as the opening stage of the afternoon loop.

A statement from the event organiser, Clube Desportos Motorizados do Porto, read: “The structure of the race is very similar to the previous edition and the novelty will be SS2 and SS6 – Boticas/Vale do Tâmega, which will be for the first time in rallies”.

The 2023 Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto begins with a 1.43-kilometre superspecial through the streets of host city Fafe from 21h05 on Friday 10 March.

After the first visit to Boticas/Vale do Tâmega on Saturday, crews tackle Boticas/Sr. do Monte, which at 15.05 kilometres is the longest of the Portuguese ERC event.

Cabeceiras de Basto and Vieira do Minho follow ahead of the midday regroup and service in Fafe with both stages featuring on the route of the FIA World Rally Championship-counting Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Based in the Cabreira and Vieira do Minho mountains respectively, the challenging gravel tests are set to have a big influence on the victory battle.

The Felgueiras area is home to the Seixoso and Santa Quitéria stages – two Vodafone Rally de Portugal regulars – on Sunday 12 March, while the Fafe municipality hosts the day-opening Luílhas test from 07h32, plus the iconic Lameirinha.

All four stages are repeated in the afternoon with Lameirinha – complete with its legendary Pedra Sentada jump – the setting for the rally-deciding Power Stage from 16h05.