Toyota driver Elfyn Evans was fastest in WRC’s shakedown session ahead of Rally de Portugal this weekend.
Evans, who will be first on the road tomorrow as the joint championship leader, was just one-tenth of a second faster than Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi.
Sébastien Ogier, who has the same amount of points as Evans but one more rally win this season, isn’t competing in Portugal this weekend which means that Evans will be first on the road.
Rally Portugal kicks off a string of seven gravel events in a row with the first upcoming non-gravel event being the penultimate round of the championship at Central Europe Rally in late October.
Evans aims to continue his form from last month’s Croatia Rally and is aware that a difficult job lies ahead for him this weekend: “Now that we were successful in Croatia we will have the job of opening the road, but I’m sure that is something that is going to swing back and forth between the drivers a few times over the next rallies.
“We will just have to try and maximise our performance in the loose conditions we will face on Friday and see what’s possible”, the Welshman said.
Three manufacturers in the top 3
Lappi, who set his fastest time in his fourth run, was second fastest for Hyundai, 0.4s ahead of M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tänak.
Dani Sordo was fourth fastest, just a tenth shy of Tänak and 0.3s in front of Takamoto Katsuta driving in the third Toyota.
Pierre-Louis Loubet completed, like Lappi, four runs contrary to the other Rally1 drivers and managed to set a time good enough for P6, 0.3s behind Katsuta and four-tenths ahead of reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä who seeks to take his first rally win of the season.
Thierry Neuville who is determined to win in Portugal after his crash in Croatia while leading the event, was eighth fastest and the slowest Rally1 driver in shakedown. The Belgian was 0.2s behind Rovanperä and just 1.8 seconds off Evans’ leading pace.
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The overall top 10 was completed by Toksport Skoda drivers Oliver Solberg and Gus Greensmith. A big WRC battle is expected with a total of 43 (!) drivers entered in WRC2.
WRC Rally Portugal 2023 – Shakedown results
|#||Drivers||Car||Time / Diff. to 1st|
|1.||Evans / Martin||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||2:53.4|
|2.||Lappi / Ferm||Hyundai i20 N Rally1||+0.1|
|2.||Tänak / Järveoja||Ford Puma Rally1||+0.5|
|4.||Sordo / Carrera||Hyundai i20 N Rally1||+0.6|
|5.||Katsuta / Johnston||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||+0.9|
|6.||Loubet / Gilsoul||Ford Puma Rally1||+1.2|
|7.||Rovanperä / Halttunen||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||+1.6|
|8.||Neuville / Wydaeghe||Hyundai i20 N Rally1||+1.8|
|9.||Solberg / Edmondson||Skoda Fabia RS Rally2||+6.9|
|10.||Greensmith / Andersson||Skoda Fabia RS Rally2||+8.6|
Photo: Toyota GAZOO Racing