Fifty-four crews will contest round five of the FIA European Rally Championship, an increase of twelve over the figure that entered last year's running of SATA Rallye Acores.
The large list consists of several ERC regulars including Kevin Abbring, Craig Breen, Vasily Gryazin, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Bruno Magalhaes. Bernardo Sousa and Ricardo Moura will also compete, joining Magalhaes in flying the flag of host nation Portugal when the event runs from 15-17 May.
“The main goal is to fight for the victory and to show we have the pace to be there,” Sousa said when asked about his goal for the event. “This year's entry will be more competitive than last year because we have the new R5s from Peugeot and some local drivers with the Fiesta R5 also. It's going to be a big fight but I have some good knowledge of the roads and a good rhythm after doing one WRC event already this year.”
“It's quite a tricky event, especially with the weather,” Sousa continued. “We never know what we can expect. You have stages with plenty of sun, dry but then on the next stage you have fog and rain. That's the tropical climate you have on the island.”
“Most of the time the stages are inside the forests. You have very narrow sections with corners where you cannot cut the road. But depending on the season of the year you will have more bushes or the trees will be more grown. The stage surface is also quite soft,” he added.
Elsewhere, eleven ERC Juniors will be competing including newcomers Fabio Andolfi and Guillame Dilley, plus title leader Jan Cerny, while a total of 16 nations will be represented.
ERC Production Car Cup pacesetter Vitaliy Pushkar will also be taking part having missed the previous round in Northern Ireland.
The full entry list is available - HERE