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Weekend Rally Round-Up – May 21

The hills above Arganil on the 1997 Rally of Portugal. Photo: Martin Holmes

After the late cancellation of the Gaia city stages, the revised route for WRC Rally of Portugal (May 31 -June 2) have now been released.

There are now 18 stages (the official stage numbers 14 and 15 have been removed) with no downtown stages and only one super special, the Lousada side-by-side stage on the Friday evening.

Most eagerly awaited details concerned the Friday stages in the Arganil Hills last used in the WRC in 2001, since when many of the connecting roads have now been asphalted.

The chosen stage Gois (2/5) and Arganil (3/6) are respectively sited at the west and east end of the old stage area.

The event officially starts in Coimbra, more than 100km south of the rally HQ at Matosinhos, Porto. Saturday will be spent in the North of Portugal and the final morning based around Fafe, with the famous jump at the end of the Power Stage.

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Coming soon are the World Rally Car debuts for Jari Huttunen in an i20 Coupe WRC entered by Hyundai Motorsport on the Finnish championship Riihimaki Rally, and by M-Sport’s WRC2 Pro driver, Gus Greensmith, on Rally Portugal.

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Sebastien Loeb winning the 2019 Rally Ireland, the last WRC event in Ireland. Photo: Maurice Selden

Unsettled future for Rally GB. It has been reported on the website of the BBC that talks have been held between the British motorsport authorities and Northern Ireland federation with a view to suspending the event’s three year agreement with the Welsh Government for one year, to run Rally GB in Ireland in 2020.

The Ulster entrepreneur, Bobby Willis, promoter of the long standing Circuit of Ireland, has been attempting to bring the WRC back to Ireland after cross border events in 2007 and 2009.

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Under discussions are the options whether to propose that Britain’s WRC event in Ireland should be an asphalt event, knowing that an alternative exclusively gravel Irish event would need to be run cross border and entail long road sections.

Major obstacles to the project are an absence of an effective political ruling government in North Ireland and the unknown international consequences of a possible Brexit.

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Despite a contentious 30 second penalty for overshooting a chicane, Jan Kopecky (above) dominated the Czech championship Cesky Krumlov Rally, winning on the first event for the recently homologated Skoda Fabia R5 Evo.

Kopecky won all but three of the stages. Skodas took the top four places with Vojtech Stajf’s VW Polo GTI R5 fifth.

More rally news:

DMack Tyres – gone but not forgotten

Nicolas Gilsoul recounts the Chile crash

Martin Holmes is widely considered as world rallying's most experienced, and most respected journalist. Martin covers the WRC, ERC and all major rally championships around the world.

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