At the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship next weekend at Rallye de Portugal, the largest gathering of world rally champions, co-drivers, teams and also cars, will celebrate the championship’s 50th anniversary with a large festival in Matosinhos, Portugal.
The former WRC champions of Sébastien Loeb, Ott Tänak and Sébastien Ogier will be presented at the festival but they are also competing in the main event. Joining alongside those three are other iconic names such as Walter Röhrl, Ari Vatanen, Miki Biasion, Carlos Sainz, Marcus Grönholm and Petter Solberg.
The co-drivers presented at the event are familiar names such as Robert Reid, who is the FIA deputy president for sport, Luis Moya, Christian Geistdörfer, Tiziano Siviero, Timo Rautiainen, Derek Ringer, David Richards and Martin Järveoja.
Also many female drivers and co-drivers from the FIA Ladies’ Cup will be there, such as Michèle Mouton and Fabrizia Pons, which are the only female pairing to win a WRC round, Louise-Aitken-Walker and Isolde Holderied, including their co-drivers Tina Thörner, and Christine Driano.
Other guests that will be presented are the current FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who himself is a old rally driver, WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel and the president of Automóvel Club de Portugal Carlos Barbosa.
“Everyone has their own memories of the thrills, spills and excitement from the WRC and this is a marvellous one-off opportunity for those who have helped make the championship so special,” Siebel said.
“The list of WRC greats coming to Portugal, both human and mechanical, is mouth-watering and a reminder of what a wonderful sport we have the great fortune to be involved in.”
“But this is also for the fans. The sights and sounds of great cars from yesteryear being driven through the stages will evoke spine-tingling memories from those watching roadside.”
At the service park of Exponor, nearly 30 historic rally cars will be on display throughout the weekend and the fans will get the chance to see the cars being used on the special stages throughout the four days of rally.
The cars to be included are the Alpine A110, which won the first-ever WRC round at Rallye Monte-Carlo in the hands of Jean-Claude Andruet. A large field of Group B era cars such as the Audi Quattro S1, Quattro A1 and Quattro A2 models, and a Lancia Delta S4.
Other iconic cars like Lancia Stratos, Ford Escort RS1800, Opel Ascona 400, Toyota Corolla, and the more modern cars like the Hyundai i20. Most of the cars will be provided by the organisation Slowly Sideways group.
The event will start with a gala dinner at the service park on Wednesday. On Thursday some of the historic cars will be on display at the rally start in Coimbra and later to be used in demonstration runs throughout the afternoon and evening at the rallycross circuit of Lousada and at the street stage of Porto-Foz.
On Saturday the cars will take on the legendary Fafe stage, which have been included in the rally since the start in 1973.
“Since its inaugural season in 1973, the FIA World Rally Championship has delivered spectacular action for global audiences. It has featured the most iconic cars, historic locations and legendary drivers and co-drivers who have secured a special place in the annals of motorsport.” Ben Sulayem added.
“The FIA has continuously driven evolution in a sporting and technical sense: this year is no exception as the WRC ushers in hybrid technology, sustainable fuel and advanced safety measures.“
“As the championship enters its 50th year, it’s time to reflect on those remarkable accomplishments, celebrate past and present champions and look ahead to a bright future. I look forward to the upcoming festivities at Rally de Portugal, where the legends will be reunited.”