Juniors prepare for gravel challenge

After tackling snow and asphalt, the FIA Junior World Rally Championship switches to gravel for the first time in 2018 as the field travels to Vodafone Rally de Portugal this weekend (17-20 May).

Young Swede Dennis Rådström holds the championship lead coming into the halfway point of the season thanks to victory at his home event in February. However, he’s only one point ahead of Corsica linea – Tour de Corse winner Jean-Baptiste Franceschi.

They both need to keep an eye behind them though as both Terry Folb and Emil Bergkvist have claimed podium finishes this year and will be keeping the pressure on the lead pair as the quartet takes to the roads of northern Portugal.

“I’m looking forward to this one and think it will be a nice challenge. Gravel is fun to drive, and Portugal is a rally with a fantastic atmosphere,” Rådström said.

“We’ve had a good test before this event and feel well prepared with the pace notes. We’ve spent many hours watching onboards and on our physical training. We have also been driving our old Fiesta R2 on a gravel round of the Norwegian Rally Championship for more experience.”

Franceschi won the last round in Corsica

Behind the leaders, Ireland’s Callum Devine will be hoping to build on his solid start to the season as he continues his loose-surface development. 

Julius Tannert is heading to Portugal in the hopes of reigniting his Junior WRC title challenge after a tough Corsica event dropped him away from the leaders, while Ken Torn’s objective is to continue his push up the standings after improving on a disappointing Rally Sweden at the second round.

Luca Bottarelli – a stage winner in France – will be aiming to utilise his Italian gravel rallying knowledge to good effect, with Bugra Banaz, Tom Williams and Umberto Accornero also looking to make the most of their past experience.

Enrico Oldrati, Emilio Fernandez, and David Holder complete the 14-car field.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Vodafone Rally de Portugal, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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