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    Cool WRC Portugal Mar 24-27 talk/results spoiler**


    Next: Round 3 WRC Portugal 24 - 27 Mar 11

    New for 2011


    With the exception of the new-for-2010 Santana da Serra stage and the three-lap superspecial in Lisbon, the competitive route remains largely unaltered.

    Official Site: rallydeportugal.pt/

    WRC round 3 of 13:

    Portugal is and always has been a haven for world rallying. The gravel roads out as far west as Europe goes are among the best on the planet. Just when you think you know where they’re going, there’s another crest and another unseen corner to challenge your perception. In short, Portugal is a driver’s favourite.

    Vodafone Rally de Portugal is based in the Algarve Stadium in Faro. Built in 2000, the venue’s finest hour - obviously before the arrival of the World Rally Championship - was being used in the Euro 2004 football tournament. And, when rally cars weren’t thundering their way through the centre circle, local clubs Louletano and Sporting Club Farense share the ground as their home.

    But next week, football’s forgotten as far as Faro’s concerned. It’s all about Portugal’s other passion: rallying.

    For the first time in the rally’s recent history, the event includes a stage much further north. There’s also a tweak to the timetabling of the pre-event shakedown for this third round of the WRC, which takes place, unusually, on Wednesday evening, with the crews all hitting the road north the following morning.

    The first competitive action happens around the streets of Lisbon. The drivers are certain to receive a rapturous welcome on the 3.27-kilometre test, which is undoubtedly going to be one of the best-supported superspecials of the season.

    With the return journey to Portugal’s south coast to make, the stage starts earlier than most superspecials, with the first driver into the test at 15:25hrs local time.

    The next morning, Friday, the cars will be getting dirty as the competition steps up a level on the first of the gravel stages. Another first for this Algarve-based event is the lack of action inside the stadium itself. With Lisbon done, the winner of this year’s event will be decided after three days of all-gravel action in the hills inland from Faro.

    Read More: wrc.com/news/preview-rally-de-portugal/


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    Shakedown

    Sebastien Ogier has gone fastest in shakedown for Vodafone Rally de Portugal.



    Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia set a quickest time of 3m08.5s over the 5.03-kilometre Vale de Judeau practice stage, which was held in warm and sunny conditions a short distance from the service park in Faro.

    Ogier, who claimed his maiden World Rally Championship victory in Portugal last season, said: “Everything was okay and we are happy with the performance. We did not make any major changes to the set-up of the car, just some small details.”

    Sebastien Loeb, Ogier’s Citroen team-mate and the seven-time world rally champion, was second fastest, one-tenth of a second slower than Ogier.

    Factory Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala was a further two-tenths of a second adrift in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC with Petter Solberg fourth overall in his DS3 WRC.

    Mads Ostberg was fifth quickest in the lead M-Sport Stobart Fiesta with Mikko Hirvonen sixth in the second works Ford. Ostberg’s M-Sport Stobart team-mates Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson were next up with Kimi Raikkonen and Federico Villagra completing the top 10.

    The stage was interrupted following Ken Block’s crash but all leading drivers are understood to have completed their planned number of runs as they finalise their preparations for the third event of the WRC season, which gets underway in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on Thursday afternoon. Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino were taken to hospital for precautionary checks after rolling their Fiesta but a spokesperson for their Monster World Rally Team confirmed they are okay.

    Here are the Shakedown times of the leading WRC drivers:

    1. OGIER. Citroen DS3 WRC. 3:08.5
    2. LOEB. Citroen DS3 WRC. 3:08.6
    3. P. SOLBERG. Citroen DS3 WRC. 3:09.2
    4. LATVALA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 3:09.4
    5. OSTBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 3:09.6
    6. HIRVONEN. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 3:10.8
    7. H. SOLBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 3:13.4
    8. WILSON. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 3:14.8
    9. RAIKKONEN. Citroen DS3 WRC. 3:15.1
    10. VILLAGRA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 3:15.6

    Read: wrc.com/portugal/shakedown

    ----------------------------

    Block crashes in Portugal shakedown

    Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino have undergone precautionary checks in hospital after they crashed during shakedown for Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

    Block was tackling his third run over the 5.03-kilometre stage at Vale de Judeau when it is understood he clipped a rock in a narrow section approximately halfway through the stage and rolled over a bank.

    His Ford Fiesta RS WRC ended up some six metres off the road although it is not clear whether the damage will be too extensive for the American to start the rally tomorrow (Thursday) until engineers from Block’s Monster World Rally Team have carried out a technical inspection.

    A spokesperson for the team said: “Ken and Alex went to hospital in Faro for a precautionary check-up but are okay. We’re waiting for the car to get back to service before we have an idea of how bad the damage is.”

    Read: wrc.com/block/shakedown


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    Ken Block will be unable to start Vodafone Rally de Portugal, which gets underway in Lisbon later today, following the accident he suffered during shakedown for the world championship qualifier.

    Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino crashed heavily on the 5.03-kilometre stage at Vale de Judeau yesterday evening (Wednesday). Although they were both uninjured their Monster World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC was too badly damaged to allow them to continue.

    A spokesperson for the American team said: “Ken and Alex are 100 per cent fine. They went to hospital but it was a precaution because it’s better to be safe than sorry. Unfortunately when the car came back to service the scrutineer declared that it was too badly damaged and was a no-go.

    “Ken is obviously disappointed and bummed out that he’s been unable to start the rally. It was his first big crash in a World Rally Car and Ken is obviously relieved that he and Alex are both okay. They’re heading back home now to prepare for their next stop on their world tour, Argentina WRC.”

    Read: wrc.com/block-out-in-portugal

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    SS1: Hirvonen lights up Lisbon with stage win



    Vodafone Rally de Portugal has got underway with a spectacular superspecial stage in the capital Lisbon. Drivers tackled the all-asphalt test in groups of three or two depending on their priority status and were cheered all the way by the 30,000-strong crowd.

    Based in Belem, the riverside area of Lisbon to the south west of the city centre where 600 years ago boats left Portugal to discover the world, the stage was shown live on Portuguese television and took place in largely sunny conditions.

    Mikko Hirvonen, driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was fastest over the 3.27-kilometre stage, to open up a 1.3-second lead over Sebastien Loeb heading into the rally’s first gravel stage on Friday.

    Hirvonen, the world championship leader, set a time of 2m49.6s to head a Citroen DS3 WRC trio of Loeb, Petter Solberg and Sebastien Ogier. Jari-Matti Latvala was fifth in the second works Fiesta with Federico Villagra heading ex-Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

    There was drama on the stage when Mads Ostberg slid into a concrete retaining wall. The impact resulted in his Fiesta’s front-right becoming detached and Ostberg limped to the end of the stage on three wheels.

    Read More: wrc.com/portugal_ss1





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    SS2: Solberg flies on Algarve gravel



    Petter Solberg has gone fastest through the first gravel stage of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

    The 2003 world champion edged current championship leader Mikko Hirvonen by two seconds to narrow the Finn’s overnight advantage to one-tenth of a second.

    “It’s a good start,” said Citroen driver Solberg. “We need to come into a rhythm because I did a couple of silly mistakes. It’s a very difficult stage and I was happy to get that time. The road is always cleaning a little bit but not massive.”

    After completing his run, Hirvonen said: “I’m surprised with that time. I wasn’t driving good, not smooth at all. I’m still not familiar with the car and I was in the wrong gear at times.”

    Hirvonen’s team-mate Latvala was third fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC despite reporting a few mistakes midway through the stage. “I went wide in a couple of places and lost a few seconds so we need to do some changes to the pace notes.”

    World champion Sebastien Loeb, who was fourth quickest, said he was impressed by Hirvonen’s speed: “Either he’s very fast or I’m very slow. I’m not fully happy with the car and I don’t have 100 per cent confidence because there is some understeer. The stage is not cleaning so much and I can’t see his lines. Mikko’s time is impressive.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss2



    -------------------------

    SS3: Citroen aces joint fastest in Portugal

    Factory Citroen team-mates Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier have set the equal fastest time on the second gravel stage of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

    But there was despair for fellow DS3 WRC driver Petter Solberg who picked up a front-right puncture and lost more than one minute to his rivals. “In a right-hand bend there was a rock on the inside and I hit it and had the puncture,” said the Norwegian.

    Solberg’s woe means that Loeb moves into second with Ogier up to fourth behind Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala, who was 1.4s slower than the Citroens through stage three.

    “My driving was much better in this one, I have more confidence in the car,” said Loeb. “I changed the set-up of the suspension before the start of the stage.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss3



    -------------------------

    SS4: Stage win hands Ogier Portugal lead

    Sebastien Ogier has moved into the lead of Vodafone Rally de Portugal after winning the final stage of Friday morning’s opening loop.

    Ogier edged Petter Solberg by 2.3s with Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb third quickest, 3.2s adrift of Ogier.

    “The rally is very long,” said Ogier, who claimed his maiden WRC win in Portugal last season. “We started quite slowly, it took some time to wake up but now it’s okay. I’m happy, at the moment everything is perfect.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala completed the stage, made famous following his huge crash on it back in 2009, was fourth quickest, one place ahead of Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss4



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    SS5: Latvala shares fastest time with leader Ogier



    Sebastien Ogier has extended his lead of Vodafone Rally de Portugal after sharing the fastest time with Jari-Matti Latvala on stage five.

    Ogier and Latvala both completed the 22.99-kilometre Santa Clara test in a time of 13m50.9s. As a result, Latvala has moved into second overall, two-tenths of a second ahead of Sebastien Loeb, who was third fastest through the run.

    “It’s okay, it’s going well,” said Citroen driver Ogier. “The car is perfect and for now [there’s] no problem. I have to be calm with no worry. It is just the start of the rally.”

    Ford ace Latvala added: “It felt much quicker than the first time through the stage. I am happy with that.”

    Petter Solberg’s efforts to make up the time he lost with a puncture on stage three suffered a blow when he suffered a right-rear puncture and dropped more than 20 seconds.

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss5



    -------------------------

    SS6:Lead battle intensifies in Portugal



    Jari-Matti Latvala has narrowed Sebastien Ogier’s overall lead of Vodafone Rally de Portugal after winning the sixth stage of the world championship counter.

    Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was 1.4 seconds quicker than Sebastien Loeb through the stage to narrow Ogier’s advantage to 1.8s with one stage of day one remaining.

    “The grip is quite good as long as you stay in the clean lines, otherwise it is very slippery,” said Latvala after completing the stage.

    Citroen driver Ogier put his slight time loss down to his decision to preserve his Michelin tyres after of the final stage of the afternoon loop. “I did not attack in this one to save my tyres,” he said.

    Loeb complained that his Citroen DS3 WRC understeered in the stage, adding: “I am not happy with the set-up, we need to find a solution.

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss6



    -------------------------

    End of Day 1

    SS7:
    Third stage win for Latvala


    Jari-Matti Latvala has bagged his third stage win of Vodafone Rally de Portugal to move into the lead of the world championship event.

    While Citroen drivers Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier dropped their pace on the test to avoid running first on the road on Saturday, Latvala went on a charge to beat Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by 6.4 seconds.

    As a result he will take a lead of 11.5s over team-mate Mikko Hirvonen into day two with Loeb third and Ogier fourth, 16.7s adrift of first place.

    Petter Solberg elected not to complete the stage after losing several minutes with a third puncture of the afternoon. With no spare available to make it back to service in Faro, Solberg decided to retire from the day and will restart on Saturday morning under SupeRally regulations with a 10-minute time penalty.

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss7






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    Araujo impressed by MINI’s potential



    Armindo Araujo says MINI's John Cooper Works Super 2000 has "great potential" after he completed the opening day of Vodafone Rally de Portugal in seventh position overall.

    Motosport Italia’s Araujo and Brazil World Rally Team star Daniel Oliveira are giving the Prodrive-developed machine its world championship debut on the demanding gravel roads of the Algarve this week as MINI continues its preparations for May’s Rally d’Italia Sardegna, when Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo will run the company’s World Rally Car in competition for the first time.

    Araujo, the double Production Car world champion, enjoyed a trouble-free day at the wheel of his MINI on Friday and said afterwards that there is plenty more to come from the BMW-powered machine.

    “I’m not driving at 100 per cent, just trying to build the experience of the car,” said the Portuguese, who started the event with a replacement engine after the original suffered a fault during pre-event testing. “The specification of the car we have here obviously does not have the aerodynamic kit and the lighter windows for example and that makes a big difference because there is not as much stability over the crests and at high speed without the aero kit. But still I have great confidence with this car. It definitely has a great potential.”

    Read: wrc.com/araujo/mini/S2000


    --------------------------

    Day 2

    SS8:Loeb closes the gap in Portugal




    Sebastien Loeb has moved into second overall on Vodafone Rally de Portugal after winning Saturday’s opening stage.

    The seven-time world champion, at the wheel of a Citroen DS3 WRC, was eight-tenths of a second faster than team-mate Sebastien Ogier, who moves up into third.

    “That’s a good start for sure,” said Loeb. “The road was cleaning and it’s more dry than we thought in the service park because of the rain. I am pushing very hard and we try to go as fast as possible but all drivers are still in the fight. It’s a hard battle.”

    Ogier said: “The rally is really tough and we didn’t drive quite so well at the end. I had to wake up quicker today than yesterday. I have to drive fast, safely but fast. You can see a clean line and I think I will have a better advantage on the next stage.”

    Mikko Hirvonen, who has slipped from second to fourth overall, said: “I just made a small mistake at the end. We had a near off right at the start of the stage as well because we are really pushing hard.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss8



    --------------------------

    SS9:Loeb’s fury at dust delay



    Sebastien Loeb has vented his anger at rival Mikko Hirvonen at the finish of stage nine of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

    Hirvonen suffered a puncture during the stage and had to stop to fit a spare. He resumed his charge in front of Loeb who lost time running in the dust clouds created by Hirvonen’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Loeb switched on his windscreen wipers in an effort to see where he was going in his Citroen DS3 WRC but lost vital ground to leader, the Ford-driver Jari-Matti Latvala.

    “I’m sure Sebastien is really mad but it happens, I’m sorry,” said Hirvonen, who lost almost two minutes. “We changed the tyre, the road was clear and we went.”

    At the end of stage stop control Loeb nudged the bumper of Hirvonen’s car with his before telling WRC TV that Hirvonen had “destroyed” his race.

    “He has a puncture and started eight seconds in front of me and didn’t let me pass to protect Latvala,” said Loeb, who is now 32.5s adrift of Latvala. “He destroyed my race. He had the puncture not me. We can play for third only. It’s finished.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss9



    --------------------------

    SS10: Stage winner Ogier takes the lead

    Sebastien Ogier has shot into the lead of Vodafone Rally de Portugal after completing the final stage of the morning 3.8s faster than Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

    Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala drops to second overall, 6.9s adrift of Ogier heading to midday service in Faro.

    “It was good,” said Ogier at the stage end. “There was a lot of loose gravel on the road and for sure it was a disadvantage to be first.”

    Latvala, running first on the road, said “That was the most slippery and most difficult of the three stages. Towards the end there was really slippery gravel like the ball-bearings we had in Australia.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss10





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    SS11:Ogier extends Portugal advantage

    Sebastien Ogier has extended his margin out front on Vodafone Rally de Portugal by claiming his fifth stage win of the gravel event.

    Ogier was 3.6 seconds faster than Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb to increase his lead over Jari-Matti Latvala to 11.2s.

    “It’s a good stage and we had a good drive on this one,” said Ogier. “It’s looking good [for the victory] but there is a long way to go and there will be a lot of loose gravel on the road tomorrow.”

    Ford driver Latvala was 4.3s slower than Ogier through the stage. He said: “In some places I felt the suspension was too soft in some bumps. But in the low stuff it was okay.”

    Loeb admitted his efforts to close the gap to Latvala in the overall standings had made little impact. “We tried hard but it was impossible to make any difference to Jari-Matti,” said Loeb. “We had the car more stiff than in the morning and maybe we lose a bit of grip.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss11



    -------------------------

    SS12: Despair for Latvala in the Algarve



    Jari-Matti Latvala’s hopes of winning Vodafone Rally de Portugal have suffered a huge setback after his Ford Fiesta RS WRC broke a driveshaft.

    The Finn, who started the stage in second overall, reported hearing a “strange noise” approximately 16 kilometres into the stage.

    He completed the test 7.2 seconds slower than Sebastien Loeb and has now dropped 7.2s behind the Frenchman into third overall.

    “We heard a noise that was not right, I think it was the right rear,” said Latvala. “We can’t do anything for that and that is making me very angry.”

    Out front, Sebastien Ogier’s advantage has increased to 32.3 seconds. “It’s a good gap and I will try to conserve it on the last stage today,” said Ogier. “With this gap it will be crazy to slow down I think.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss12



    -------------------------
    End of Day 2

    SS13:Frustration for Ford in Portugal




    Sebastien Ogier continues to lead Vodafone Rally de Portugal but there was more frustration for the factory Ford team.

    Former leader Jari-Matti Latvala completed the stage with three working driveshafts following his Fiesta’s failure on the previous test. A puncture, which he had to stop to change, then compounded his agony still further.

    “We tried to work on the preload of the differential and there was not time to check the tyres before the stage started and we got a slow puncture,” said Latvala. “I tried to keep going as long as possible but the tyre delaminated and we had to change it. We have lost a lot of time.”

    Latvala’s team-mate Hirvonen was also out of luck when his Fiesta’s rear suspension failed, which he said could have been caused by an impact with a rock.

    Matthew Wilson made it through the stage unscathed and climbs to fourth overall in his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta.

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss13





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    Day 3

    SS14: Hirvonen rapid through Sunday’s opener




    Mikko Hirvonen has claimed his first gravel stage victory on Vodafone Rally de Portugal as leader Sebastien Ogier admitted to backing off to preserve his overnight advantage.

    Hirvonen was 18 seconds faster than Ogier through the Silves test to move ahead of Matthew Wilson into fourth overall.

    “That was not too bad, the car is working well,” said Hirvonen. “I’m concentrating on fourth place now.”

    Hirvonen’s Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was second fastest through the stage in his Fiesta. “The Citroen boys are taking it very steady,” said Latvala. “There was a lot of grip and I enjoyed the drive. I wasn’t taking any risks, just keeping a good rhythm.”

    Out front, Sebastien Loeb has all but conceded victory to team-mate Ogier after admitting at the stage finish he didn’t want to put his compatriot under any pressure. “We decided not to push, I didn’t want to put him under any pressure,” said Loeb.

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss14



    ---------------------------

    SS15:Anguish for Hirvonen in Portugal

    Mikko Hirvonen has dropped back to fifth place on Vodafone Rally de Portugal after his Ford Fiesta RS WRC suffered a broken driveshaft 10 kilometres from the finish of stage 15.

    The Finn had moved ahead of Matthew Wilson into fourth spot by winning the previous stage but is now 27.9s behind the Briton heading to the mid-morning service halt in Faro.

    Hirvonen’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was second fastest through the test behind stage winner Petter Solberg. Mads Ostberg was third and Sebastien Loeb took fourth.

    “It was very slippery in some places, quite damp with the grip changing,” said Loeb. “We made a few pace note changes for the Power Stage this afternoon.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss15



    ---------------------------

    SS16: Solberg flies in the Portugal rain



    Petter Solberg has won the penultimate stage of Vodafone Rally de Portugal as heavy rain made driving conditions treacherous.

    The top 20 drivers tackled the 21.39-kilometre test in reverse running order to establish the starting positions for the event-closing Power Stage.

    Solberg was 11.4s faster through the stage than fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg. Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest to move back ahead of Matthew Wilson into fourth overall.

    Afterwards Hirvonen said: “I am okay, I am here but some places it is like driving on ice.”

    Sebastien Ogier’s overall lead to Sebastien Loeb has been trimmed to 35.9s heading into Power Stage. “I had the worst of the rain,” said Ogier. “I took it steady to keep my position.”

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss16





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    End of Day 3

    SS17:Power Stage triumph for Loeb




    Sebastien Loeb has won Vodafone Rally de Portugal’s Power Stage to clinch three world championship bonus points in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    But Loeb wasn’t the only winner at the end of the 31.04-kilometre test, which was shown live on television, as team-mate Sebastien Ogier made it through unscathed to claim his second consecutive victory on the event.

    “I’m very happy about that,” said Loeb after winning his first Power Stage of the season. “I tried hard and had a good feeling with the car. There were no moments on the stage.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was second fastest through the stage to claim two bonus points with Ogier third fastest to land the final bonus score.

    Petter Solberg said a mistake in a corner had cost him victory on the stage although his pace was enough to snatch sixth position in the overall standings from Kimi Raikkonen.

    Mikko Hirvonen’s efforts to win the Power Stage suffered a setback when a suspected rear damper failure slowed his Fiesta through the closing kilometres of the run.

    Read: wrc.com/portugal_ss17



    Ogier reigns in Portugal



    Sebastien Ogier has claimed his third victory in the World Rally Championship after winning Vodafone Rally de Portugal for a second year in succession.

    The 27-year-old from France was able to preserve his comfortable overnight lead and hold off Citroen DS3 WRC team-mate Sebastien Loeb for victory on the demanding gravel stages of the Algarve.

    It was the perfect result for Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia after they crashed out of the lead on the final morning of the previous round in Mexico.

    “I’m very happy, we had the perfect weekend, the car was perfect and Julien was perfect,” said Ogier. “This is the best way to come back after our crash in Mexico. It is a long way to go in the championship but I’m in a better position now.”

    Ogier now moves firmly back into title contention and Loeb is already expecting an exciting battle for this year’s world crown. “The championship battle will be good, it is interesting this year,” said Loeb.

    Victory for Ogier means Citroen has now won the last two rounds of the WRC. The leading Ford driver on the event was Jari-Matti Latvala, who took his Fiesta RS WRC to third place.

    Read: wrc.com/ogier wins

    --------------------------

    Championship Standings: wrc.com/standings/

    --------------------------

    Next Round 4: WRC Jordan April 14-16th

    Jordan will celebrate its third appearance in the World Rally Championship this year with its popular all-gravel event based in the Dead Sea Resort.

    The rally, which enjoys the continued patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Feisal Al Hussein, represents a tough test for the drivers who compete in scorching ambient temperatures approaching 40 degrees centigrade over rock-strewn passes.

    With the majority of the stages running up to 400 metres below sea level, Jordan is a unique event on the WRC calendar and the only round of the series to take place in the Middle East and one of the few not to finish on a Sunday: the Islamic weekend requires a Saturday finish.

    Service is located overlooking the Dead Sea and is in walking distance from the event’s plush headquarters. Amman, Jordan’s capital is a 50-kilometre drive away and with the stages located close by, the rally, which also incorporates a round of the Middle East championship, is one of the most compact on the 2011 schedule.

    Official Website: jordanrally.com/


    .
    Last edited by Weasel 555; 04-11-2011 at 08:04 AM.
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