It’s one of the oldest and most popular events on the WRC calendar. Fast and technical gravel roads inland from Porto in the north and center of the country are soft and sandy, but become rocky and rutted after just a few thrashings from rally machines. What’s more, Portugal’s WRC route comes loaded with plenty of tricky corners hidden by high-speed blind crests - all while temperatures soar in Portugal’s early summer.
Better still Oliver Solberg was on hand to Unleash The Beast on the Portuguese stages, in a fully Monster Energy liveried Hyundai i20N Rally2 car. While the overall result didn't go Oliver’s way, with broken suspension on Saturday, The 20-year-old did push to the finish, and nail two WRC2 stage wins on the final day.
After the rally Oliver explained all:
“When I first saw the calendar and I saw where Dani [Sordo] would be driving the Hyundai i20 Rally1 car, I knew I had to make sure I could get to drive in Portugal as well. Sitting at home on the sofa for two months wasn’t an option for me at all. It’s just not what a Solberg is about.
Thanks to Monster Energy, Schaktmiljo, HTB Racing, Hyundai Customer Racing and of course, my parents, we managed to put a programme together to compete in Portugal. I love this rally, I love these roads and this place and these people. OK, the weekend hasn’t always worked like we were hoping it would – we had some problems with the dust on the first day and then we had some issues with the steering on Saturday, but today it was just fantastic.
We took it a little bit sensible this morning, but then pushed on through the last couple of stages and managed a WRC2 win on both. I can’t describe the feeling of driving the Fafe stage. It’s just crazy. The famous hairpin is unbelievable to see so many fans, but when you climb, climb, climb and then fly over the jump, that’s something else. Like you can imagine, you are totally focused on landing the jump and taking the right-hander afterwards, but you can’t help but see the colour and atmosphere everywhere. Portugal is a very, very special place. I loved it.”
Check out the gallery of shots from the weekend.