Some of the top dignitaries from the Azores have gathered to unveil a monument to the most iconic stage on the SATA Rallye Açores, before the 50th edition gets underway on Thursday, counting as round four of the European Rally Championship.
A sign depicting the route of the Sete Cidades stage was revealed at the stage start, which will serve as a lasting memorial to visitors of the significance of the rally in Sao Miguel’s culture.
Sete Cidades – the longest stage of the rally at 28.92 kilometres this year – runs along the rim of a volcano, providing breath-taking scenery for photographers, television crews and spectators. It will be used twice this year, as SS7 and SS11 on Friday.
The chairman of the rally’s organising committee Francisco Coelho unveiled the sign together with Jose Bolieiro, the mayor of Ponte Delgada, and Bruno Pacheco, the regional director of public works from the Azorean government.
As well as a map depicting the route of the stage, the sign also contains QR codes allowing visitors to access archive footage of the spectacular rally action that takes place there. Last year’s rally winner, Bernardo Sousa, is depicted negotiating the stage – giving people a taste of the scenery that awaits them as they continue down the road.
This is the first of a number of similar signs that will be placed at the start of the most significant stages on SATA Rallye Acores, highlighting just how important the event is to the island and its people.
The Sete Cidades crater measures five kilometres in diameter, and the stage effectively runs around the rim of the crater on a narrow, twisting gravel road, taking in a variety of different surfaces and landscapes.
Gilbert Roy, the man responsible for Eurosport’s coverage of the ERC, is a big fan of Sete Cidades. He commented: “Sao Miguel’s scenery is quite simply incredible and truly spectacular, while Sete Cidades is the most beautiful place I’ve encountered in rallying.