WRC 2016 - The MICHELIN LTX Force H4 and S4 tires poised to play key role in Rally de Portugal strategy
The 2015 Vodafone Rally de Portugal saw the country’s round of the WRC return to Porto, in the north, after a decade of the Algarve region’s notoriously rough, abrasive stages.
The organisers have made very few changes to the route that was visited in 2015 and the event will again be based in Matosinhos, to the north of Porto. Only 6.52 of the 338 competitive kilometres are different compared with last year.
Last year’s switch to Porto led to a menu of less aggressive stages compared with those in the south which dictated the nomination of hard-compound tires and careful tire-related strategy.
In the north, the surface tends to be looser but tire choices still promise to be important. The drivers will no doubt have their own preferences and we are likely to see a combination of soft and hard tires on the cars at the same time, either front and rear, or mounted on diagonally opposite corners depending on the conditions. This could produce some interesting developments because this is one of the rounds where grip is the most delicate.
After an official send-off in Guimarães, the week’s action begins with a super-special round the rallycross track in Lousada on Thursday, May 19. Friday’s route will take crews close to the border with Spain to the north, while Saturday’s itinerary will visit the Amarante region. The event will conclude with Sunday’s three tests, including the Power Stage which will incorporate the infamous Fafe jump.
The organisers’ decision to stay with practically the same route as 2015 will facilitate tire choices. Last year, with the exception of Fafe, the stages were fresh territory for the majority of today’s generation of drivers.