Thu 23 Feb 2023

Fafe ERC countdown continues with 15 days left until action begins

In 15 days the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship will fire into life on Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto. Here are 15 reasons why the ERC season opener from 10 – 12 March is one not to miss.

1: All stages will be live
With all 17 stages live on WRC+ and the new platform, fans can watch all the key ERC action from northern Portugal.

2: Lifting off in Lameirinha
The legendary Lameirinha stage and its iconic Pedra Sentada jump runs twice on Sunday 12 March and is a key feature of the rally and part of the sport’s folklore. Following the first pass from 10h05 local time, the stunning test counts as the rally-deciding Power Stage from 16h05.

3: Breen is back!
Five-time ERC event winner Craig Breen makes his championship return in a Team Hyundai Portugal i20 N Rally2 on the 36th edition of the gravel contest.

4: Champion Llarena starts title defence
Efrén Llarena launches his ERC title defence in Fafe alongside European champion co-driver Sara Fernández.

5: Wagner begins ERC bid
Austrian champion Simon Wagner starts his ERC campaign aiming to build on the two podiums he scored in 2022.

6: City stage awaits
The mainly gravel rally actually begins with a stage through the streets of host town Fafe with crews tackling the 1.43-kilometre test from 21h05 on Friday 10 March. Will any driver be able to lower the 1m26.5 sec benchmark set by Erik Cais and Petr Těšínský in 2022?

7: Service is free
Fafe’s Praça das Comunidades houses the easily accessible and free-to-enter service park, which benefits from several shops, restaurants and cafés being close by.

8: Sesks’ big year is go!
After impressing on his Fafe debut last year Mārtiņš Sesks returns to northern Portugal part of a full-season campaign.

9: National champions on show
Simon Wagner won’t be the only reigning national champion chasing ERC success in Fafe. Finnish champion Mikko Heikkilä and French Gravel title winner Mathieu Franceschi will also be competing.

10: Watch a world champion in action
Robert Virves, the winner of the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2022, is heading to Fafe and hoping to make his Ford Fiesta fly high as he builds his experience at Rally2 level.

11: Battistolli’s fond memories
With last year’s Fafe rally marking Alberto Battistolli’s best ERC finish to date in fifth, what better event for the Italian to launch his 2023 programme, which is being supported by his national motorsport federation, ACI.

12: Linnamäe has podium potential
After clocking up three stage wins and running second overall for much of the 2022 Fafe ERC opener, Georg Linnamäe returns with the potential to better the third place he eventually achieved 12 months ago.

13: Bonato is the form man
If the saying that you’re only as good as your last result is true then Yoann Bonato is very good indeed after he completed the 2022 ERC season with victory in Catalunya. While the four-time French Tarmac champion is rapid on sealed surfaces, he also has gravel pace in abundance.

14: Legend’s guidance a boost for Nucita
Andrea Nucita makes his Fafe debut in the knowledge that Franco Cunico, a winner of 19 ERC events in the past, will provide crucial advice following his appointment as Team Director of Racingnetwork by Team Principal Alessandro Furci in December.

15: More big names expected
More big names are being added to the Fafe entry list each day and the provisional list of registrations is due to be published by the event organisers at 19h00 (20h00 CET) on 28 February.

Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras 2022: Event Recap
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM