Sata Azores Rallye about to begin. Novelties and foreign drivers spike up emotions. The Portuguese rally championship moves on with its first island incursion, the Sata Azores Rallye, organized by the Grupo Desportivo Comercial, marking the end...
Sata Azores Rallye about to begin.
Novelties and foreign drivers spike up emotions.
The Portuguese rally championship moves on with its first island incursion, the Sata Azores Rallye, organized by the Grupo Desportivo Comercial, marking the end of gravel events. Besides the top of the notch Portuguese drivers participating in this event, three special guests were invited to increase the level of emotion in this European Championship event. Of the 61 enrolled drivers, one is a FIA A priority and two are FIA B.
Run as usual on the São Miguel Island, the event will kick off on the 4th of July with some differences to last year's edition, ending on the 6th of July after 276Km, over 50,99 plus than in 2001. But that is not all; the Azores rallye starts with a section of three special stages, instead of the spectacular SS traditionally marking the start-off in the past editions, another 22 special stages, (three plus than last year), of which six are new: Pico da Pedra, FTM, Sete Cidades, Lomba da Maia, Salto do Cavalo and Planalto dos Graminhais. But the core of this characteristic rally maintains faithful, with winding routes and an incredible variety of scenarios throughout most part of this Atlantic island.
Other particularities of the Azores rallye will be the participation of three international prestigious guest drivers, substantially increasing the number of WRC's to 5. The guest drivers are European Champion Armin Kremer (FIA A), at the wheel of a Ford Focus WRC, Jani Paasonen (FIA B) and Sebastian Lindholm (FIA B), both with Subaru Impreza WRC.
On the national front, the cream of the crop of the Portuguese Championship will fight ferociously in search of their first win of the Sata Azores Rallye, in special, referring to current championship leader, Peugeot driver Miguel Campos, and rival Ford's Rui Madeira. The Sata Azores Rallye has been systematically won by foreign drivers, having Subaru won the last three editions.
In the group N, all attentions will be drawn on local hero, Horácio Franco (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII), and the continental drivers, António Gravato (Mitsubishi Carisma GT) and Armando Parente (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), who currently lead the standings, with a mere difference of 6 points between first and third. Leader of the Azores Rally Championship, Horacio Franco will surely have the cutting edge, having the precious knowledge of the tracks, while still fighting for the win in the Azores Rally Championship, where Franco holds a 2-point advantage from Gustavo Louro (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI).
Referring to the Constructors Championship, the main battle should be between Peugeot (34 pts) and Ford (10 pts), but the toughest competition to the French make will surely come from Mitsubishi, who stands in second with only 14 pts to the actual leader.