The Sata Rallye Açores, known originally as the “Volta à Ilha de São Miguel” is an international rally racing event based on the Portuguese island of São Miguel Island in the Azores. The Rally now takes the name of Azores Airlines Sata Rally, with Azores Airlines(formerly SATA) being the main sponsor and funder of this international event. Azores Airlines has made this event what it is today with the constant funding and promotion which has allowed these islands to receive a new demographic of tourism while promoting the natural beauty of the region. The event has been a long-running round of the European Rally Championship and the Portuguese Rally Championship as well as spawning its own championship in the Azores. It has also recently been a qualifying round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and the European Rally Cup West. Unlike other International rally events held on various other Atlantic Ocean islands such as Madeira in the “Rally Vinho da Madeira” and in Spain on the canary islands, “Rally Islas Canarias”, the rally in the Azores is a gravel event, adding an increased level of difficulty. The Portuguese drivers have dominated the event since it first began in 1965. A non-Portuguese driver did not win the event until 1992 was won by Yves Loubert, from France. Although Portuguese drivers would continue to accumulate medal counts, countries such as Finland, Denmark, Germany and most recently Ireland have been winners at this event as well. The Portuguese Island of Madeira and the Spanish Canary islands host two of the larger car rally events that take place in the Atlantic Islands and many drivers will compete in all 3 since they all have very different terrains. In recent years with the influx of awards received by the International community for the pristine nature and rare exotic flora and fauna of the Azores is only one of the reasons why this is one of the most profitable and celebrated events on the island of Sao Miguel.
The rally will be hosted in 2016 on June 2 – June 4th with the main headquarters for pre and post-event celebrations are held at the “Gates of the City” in Ponta Delgada. The event has the hotels at above 90% occupancy and is booked well in advance. It is recommended with all the international visitors who come to take part in this event to book your guesthouse or hotel rental in advance. The rally takes place over 3-5 days and covers the vast majority of the island, so there are many spots to watch the passing cars. The official site for the event is www.satarallyeazores.com which has all the details of the itinerary and everything you may need to plan to attend the rally.