WRC Rally Portugal Rovanperä new WRC points leader after dominant win

Rally Portugal: Rovanperä new WRC points leader after dominant win

Kalle Rovanperä has claimed his first rally win of 2023 at WRC’s Rally de Portugal. The reigning world champion took over the lead on Friday afternoon and never looked back. It’s Rovanperä’s second Portugal victory in a row as he takes over the championship lead.

The Finn, who had not stood on the top step of the podium since securing his first world title in New Zealand last season, is now 17 points ahead of Ott Tänak in the WRC championship standings.

Rovanperä took control of the rally when Tänak suffered wheel damage on Friday afternoon. At the end of the opening day, he held a 10.8-second lead over Hyundai driver Dani Sordo.

On Saturday, Rovanperä was untouchable. He won five of the seven stages and increased his lead to an impressive 57.5 seconds, making it a real Sunday drive for Toyota driver on the final day. In the end, the 22-year-old won with a of 54.7 seconds margin over second-placed Dani Sordo.

Maximum points for Rovanperä

It was a Sunday drive for Rovanperä during the final day, except during the final Power Stage, where extra points are on the table.

Rovanperä went fastest through to win in style and take the maximum haul of 30 points: “It has been too long coming, but finally we are back [on the top step of the podium],” Rovanperä said. “I have to say a big thank you to Jonne (Halttunen, co-driver) and the team. They have been pushing all the time and going forward,” said the new championship leader.

Esapekka Lappi made it two Hyundai’s on the podium, his second podium in a row. The final podium spot was Thierry Neuville’s, however, the Belgin began the day with a broken turbo which left his Hyundai down on power for the whole day. The Belgian did make it to the finish of the rally but dropped from P3 to P5 behind Lappi and M-Sport driver Ott Tänak.

Solberg gets one-minute time penalty for ‘exhibition driving’

The remaining places in the top 10 were claimed by WRC2 drivers. It remained close until the last metre in WRC2 after Oliver Solberg received a one-minute time penalty overnight for performing donuts between the flying finish and the stop line of Saturday evening’s Lousada Super Special Stage.

The supplementary regulations stated that performing ‘doughnuts’ is not allowed and will be penalised with a five-minute time penalty. Solberg, contrary to how it is stated in the supplementary regulations, was eventually penalised with a minute for “exhibition driving”, and thus started the day 24.6 behind Gus Greensmith.

Solberg ended up just 1.2 seconds behind of Greensmith, which meant that the Briton took his second WRC2 victory of the season.

Andreas Mikkelsen finished third in WRC2, followed by Yohan Rossel and Teemu Suninen.

The WRC continues in three weeks’ time with Rally Italia Sardegna around Olbia.

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WRC Rally Portugal 2023 – Results

#DriversCarTijd / Diff. to 1st
1.Rovanperä / HalttunenToyota GR Yaris Rally13:35:11.7
2.Sordo / CarreraHyundai i20 N Rally1+54.7
3.Lappi / FermHyundai i20 N Rally1+1:20.3
4.Tänak / JärveojaFord Puma Rally1+2:04.1
5.Neuville / WydaegheHyundai i20 N Rally1+8:22.5
6.Greensmith / AnderssonSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+9:43.4
7.Solberg / EdmondsonSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+9:44.6
8.Mikkelsen / EriksenSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+10:26.4
9.Rossel / DunandCitroën C3 Rally2+11:33.2
10.Suninen / MarkkulaHyundai i20 N Rally2+12:16.3

WRC 2023 Drivers’ Championship – Standings after Round 5/13 [Top 10]

1.Kalle Rovanperä98
2.Ott Tänak81
3.Sébastien Ogier69
3.Elfyn Evans69
5.Thierry Neuville68
6.Esapekka Lappi49
7.Dani Sordo36
8.Takamoto Katsuta20
9.Craig Breen19
10.Gus Greensmith16

WRC 2023 Manufacturers’ Championship – Standings after Round 5/13

1.Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT201
2.Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT169
3.M-Sport Ford WRT134

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool