Round four of the FIA World Rally Championship is just around the corner, and it’s a proper one. For the first time since Wales Rally GB 2019, a gravel rally with over 300 competitive kilometres awaits the drivers at Rally Portugal. Here is your quick preview of the event.
The rally was run for the last time in 2019. Three manufacturers shared the podium back then. Ott Tänak won by the event by 15.9 seconds over Thierry Neuville. Sébastien Ogier was promoted to third in the final stage after Kris Meeke hit a tree stump and had to retire in the Power Stage. The Power Stage caused more drama as Gus Greensmith crashed at the famous Fafe jump.
Rally Portugal entry list
The biggest absent this weekend is Andreas Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen tested positive for Covid-19 and is therefore not in Portugal this weekend. Esapekka Lappi is back behind the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo R5 after his dominant WRC2-win at February’s Arctic Rally Finland. Oliver Solberg makes his WRC2 debut for Hyundai this weekend. The Swede drove the Hyundai i20 R5 at Rallye Monte Carlo, but wasn’t entered in WRC2 that weekend.
Dani Sordo joins Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville at Hyundai this weekend for his second showing of the season. The Spaniard drives with his new co-driver Borja Rozada for the first time in Portugal. Pierre Louis Loubet also competes with a new co-driver this weekend after splitting with Vincent Landais. Florian Haut-Labourdette joins Loubet in the hot seat.
Adrien Fourmaux makes his WRC debut on gravel on board the Fiesta WRC. The Frenchman made a spectacular debut at the top level of the sport last time out in Croatia after finishing fifth overall. Rally Portugal will be a evenly big challange for Fourmaux, as the M-Sport driver hasn’t competed at Rally Portugal before. Gus Greensmith is Fourmaux’s team-mate this weekend, Teemu Suninen drives for M-Sport in WRC2. There are no surprises at Toyota with Ogier, Evans, Rovanperä and Katsuta all present in Portugal.
A total of 337.51 competitive kilometres are scheduled for the event. Shakedown starts tomorrow morning at 9:01 AM local time.
The rally gets underway on Friday morning at 08:08. Friday’s itinerary consists of 8 special stages. Góis is the longest stage of the day with 19.51 kilometres. It will be a long day of rallying, as the final stage stage starts at 19:03.
Day 2 of the event will be an even tougher compared to day 1. There are 165.16 kilometres scheduled on day 2. The day has of two loops conisting the Vieira do Minho, Cabeceiras de Basto and Amarante stage. Amarante is the longest stage of the rally at 37.92 kilometres. After the end of the second pass through Amarante, the crews head to Porto for 3.3 kilometre long Super Special Stage to close out the day.
Sunday’s stages are combined just under 50 kilometres. Highlight of the day will be the famous Fafe stage. Fafe will be the Power Stage as well and starts at 12:18 local time.
Sébastien Ogier leads the championship going into Rally Portugal. The Toyota-driver has 61 points in total. That’s 8 points more than Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville. The Belgian finished third at all three events this year. Elfyn Evans has 2 points less than Neuville in P3. Arctic Rally Finland winner Ott Tänak is currently fourth with 40 points. Kalle Rovanperä, who led the championship at the start of the rally in Croatia, is now fifth overall, 1 point behind Tänak.
Itinerary WRC Rally Portugal
All times are local: WEST, WEST = BST. CET times shown in brackets.
Thursday, May 20
09:01 (10:01) Shakedown Paredes – 4.6 km
Friday, May 21
08:08 (09:08) SS1 Lousã 1 – 12.35 km
09:08 (10:08) SS2 Gois 1 – 19.51 km
10:08 (11:08) SS3 Arganil 1 – 18.82 km
12:31 (13:31) SS4 Lousã 2 – 12.35 km
13:31 (14:31) SS5 Gois 2 – 19.51 km
14:38 (15:38) SS6 Arganil 2 – 18.82 km
16:05 (17:05) SS7 Mortágua – 18.16 km
19:03 (20:03) SS8 SSS Lousada – 3.36 km
Saturday, May 22
08:08 (09:08) SS9 Vieira do Minho 1 – 20.64 km
09:08 (10:08) SS10 Cabeceiras de Basto 1 – 22.37 km
10:24 (11:24) SS11 Amarante 1 – 37.92 km
14:38 (15:38) SS12 Vieira do Minho 2 – 20.64 km
15:38 (16:38) SS13 Cabeceiras de Basto 2 – 22.37 km
16:54 (17:54) SS14 Amarante 2 – 37.92 km
19:03 (20:03) SS15 SSS Porto – Foz – 3.30 km
Sunday, May 23
07:08 (08:08) SS16 Felgueiras 1 – 9.18 km
07:53 (08:53) SS17 Montim – 8.75 km
08:38 (09:38) SS18 Fafe 1 – 11.18 km
10:04 (11:04) SS19 Felgueiras 2 – 9.18 km
12:18 (13:18) SS20 Fafe 2 (Power Stage) – 12.18 km
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Photo: Red Bull Content Pool