Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
Podcast
WRC Rally Portugal

WRC Gravel Notes: WRC Portugal preview

The World Rally Championship begins a run of seven consecutive gravel rallies with the annual visit to Portugal this weekend.

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

A founding member of the inaugural WRC season in 1973, Portugal is a firm fan and driver favourite, thanks to its challenging, yet often brutal stages.

Four different winners from as many events have left the championship delicately poised with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville maintaining a six-point lead over Toyota’s Elfyn Evans after the pair finished third and second respectively on Croatia’s asphalt stages last time out. The pair are likely to find the going tough early on due to their advanced road position on the dusty stages.

Toyota has put its cards firmly on the table by electing to field both its part-time drivers for the first time at the same event. Reigning world champion and this year’s Safari Rally winner Kalle Rovanpera will join record-equalling five-time Portugal winner Sebastien Ogier as part of a four-car entry from the current constructors’ world champions.

It means that Takamoto Katsuta, Toyota’s second full-time driver, hasn’t been nominated to score manufacturers points. Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala hinted that the new points system has made it more difficult to have an impact on the championship with the Japanese brand only seven points ahead of Hyundai.

Hyundai will welcome back Dani Sordo to the Rally1 fold for the first time this year. The experienced Spaniard has finished on the Portugal podium on seven occasions, including rostrum finishes in each of the last three editions.

Team-mate Ott Tanak will head to Portugal with a better road position compared to his title rivals on a surface he has previously excelled driving the i20 N. Portugal could offer the Estonian his best shot at a first victory of 2024 so far.

Portugal hasn’t been kind to M-Sport Ford in the previous two visits, scoring only one top-six result, but the British squad has made a strong start to the season with Adrien Fourmaux eyeing a third podium of the campaign. Team-mate Gregoire Munster will make his second Rally Portugal start this weekend.

This week Autosport WRC reporter Tom Howard is joined by rally journalist Luke Barry to discuss all the key topics heading into Portugal, including the return of Rovanpera and a thrilling WRC2 battle. The pair also delve into the history of the event with the third edition of the Gravel Notes quiz.

The 22-stage rally, comprising 337.04 competitive kilometres, begins on Thursday.

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article How to watch WRC's Rally Portugal: schedule, line-up and more
Next article WRC Sardinia schedule sheds light on part-time driver programmes

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe