Home » This Real Rally Stage Is More Beautiful Than Anything In A Video Game

This Real Rally Stage Is More Beautiful Than Anything In A Video Game

Rally Azores

Through much of the 20th century, the Azores played an important role in transatlantic air travel, primarily as a stop-over for refueling. After all, being located nearly 870 miles from mainland Portugal has its perks. Although jets with longer cruising ranges have made Azores stop-overs less common, the autonomous region still plays host to low-level flight in the form of the stunning Azores Rally.

A mainstay of the European Rally Championship, the annual rally around São Miguel has only taken two years off since 1965, and it still offers some of the most breathtaking rally stages anywhere in the world. Now called the Azores Rally, drivers and co-drivers in various classes compete over more than 380 miles of jaw-dropping scenery, resulting in a surreal spectacle.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Take a look at this highlight reel from 2016’s event to see what I mean. Glistening waters, sprawling flora, gorgeous elevation, rock faces … it all adds up to an astounding show, particularly when viewed from above. This was the year that Ricardo Moura took overall victory in a Ford Fiesta R5, and you get to see his handiwork fairly early on in the video.

Perhaps due to a combination of the Azores being Portuguese, and general proximity to Portugal, 41 of the 56 runnings have been won by Portuguese drivers. However, that tradition seems to be fading, as legends like Kris Meeke, Sébastien Loeb, and the dearly missed Craig Breen have all taken victory at this rally over the past 15 years.


Screenshot 2024 04 15 At 1.34.12 pm

Just look at how the greenery blurs by as Moura opens up the taps on that Fiesta, rendering nature in watercolors whilst grabbing another gear. It’s such a fantastical spectacle that you can’t help but feel a sense of awe, as if the car itself is dancing on the wind. It’s also worth keeping in mind that São Miguel is an island of only 290 square miles, so offering 380 miles of stages feels like a proper feat.

Azores Rally

Perhaps best of all, the spectators turning up seem to be having a brilliant time, and it’s easy to see why. Not only do they get to take in some mesmerizing scenery, every so often, a rally car goes blasting past, leaving cheeky rooster-tails in its wake. It sounds like a recipe for a proper day out in the sun, where SPF 50 meets high-octane fuel.

Beautiful architecture, captivating landscapes, highly rated food, and one of the prettiest rally stages on the planet. Maybe I need to visit São Miguel this November, as the next running of the Azores Rally will take place on Nov. 8, 2024. Actually, that’s a top tip right there — if you’re planning on visiting the Azores and absolutely love cars, why not time your visit around the rally?


(Photo credits: European Rally Championship)

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2 months ago

Beautiful landscape… But video games game can be just as if not more stunning than watching a video of a place. 3 words… “Unreal, Engine 5”.
FYI the first video is from a year ago.
and the second is from 4 years ago.

Also they use “Unreal Engine 5” in the film industry, in tv shows and movies, such as “The Mandalorian”

Last edited 2 months ago by Musicman27
Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago

I began watching WRC in 2022, and when my WRC+ subscription notified me that I could also use it to watch ERC, I was like “sure, why not.”

The Azores rally blew me away, and therefore added another place to visit someday into my bucket list.

2 months ago

Three impressions.
Wow that’s beautiful.
It’s a long way down
Needs a Linkin Park soundtrack.

2 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

I wanna be in another stage
I hate when you say you don’t understand
(You’ll see it’s not quite a three)
I want to be Monster Energy, not just a wannabe
A place for my lead

I watch how the moon sits in the sky from the HiLiTES
Shining with the light of the run
But the run doesn’t give the heat to the driver
Assuming the driver is gonna be the one
It makes me think of how you act to me,
Say six long then brake rapidly
Get turned around when the back is free
And I need a place to crest

I wanna be in another stage
I hate when you say you don’t understand
(You’ll see it’s not quite a three)
I want to be Monster Energy, not just a wannabe
A place for my lead

Maybe someday I’ll shift just like you and
Stomp pedals with both my boots
Outrun all the people that I thought I knew
I used to remember back then who you were
You used to shift calm used to pull strong
Used to fight gravity, but you shoulda known
That you’d wear that suspension and now you see
How heavy the upcoming bump

Last edited 2 months ago by Mechjaz
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Awesome. I give it five yumps.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
2 months ago

Trust me, theres a ton of “best ways” to experience the Azores. It’s a damn paradise on earth. The Rally doesn’t even leave the main Island I think. There’s 8 other islands in the archipelago that are just as good or even better. Mass tourism has made São Miguel a much less enjoyable experience than it was just a decade ago.

Last edited 2 months ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
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