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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

WRC Gravel Notes: WRC Portugal preview

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A founding member of the inaugural WRC season in 1973, Portugal is a agency fan and driver favorite, because of its difficult, but typically brutal phases.

4 completely different winners from as many occasions have left the championship delicately poised with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville sustaining a six-point lead over Toyota’s Elfyn Evans after the pair completed third and second respectively on Croatia’s asphalt phases final trip. The pair are prone to discover the going robust early on as a result of their superior street place on the dusty phases.

Toyota has put its playing cards firmly on the desk by electing to discipline each its part-time drivers for the primary time on the identical occasion. Reigning world champion and this 12 months’s Safari Rally winner Kalle Rovanpera will be part of record-equalling five-time Portugal winner Sebastien Ogier as a part of a four-car entry from the present constructors’ world champions.

It signifies that Takamoto Katsuta, Toyota’s second full-time driver, hasn’t been nominated to attain producers factors. Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala hinted that the brand new factors system has made it tougher to have an effect on the championship with the Japanese model solely seven factors forward of Hyundai.

Hyundai will welcome again Dani Sordo to the Rally1 fold for the primary time this 12 months. The skilled Spaniard has completed on the Portugal podium on seven events, together with rostrum finishes in every of the final three editions.

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Group-mate Ott Tanak will head to Portugal with a greater street place in comparison with his title rivals on a floor he has beforehand excelled driving the i20 N. Portugal may provide the Estonian his finest shot at a primary victory of 2024 thus far.

Portugal hasn’t been type to M-Sport Ford within the earlier two visits, scoring just one top-six end result, however the British squad has made a robust begin to the season with Adrien Fourmaux eyeing a 3rd podium of the marketing campaign. Group-mate Gregoire Munster will make his second Rally Portugal begin this weekend.

This week Autosport WRC reporter Tom Howard is joined by rally journalist Luke Barry to debate all the important thing subjects heading into Portugal, together with the return of Rovanpera and an exhilarating WRC2 battle. The pair additionally delve into the historical past of the occasion with the third version of the Gravel Notes quiz.

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

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