Bumper entry in Portugal

Next week’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal (17 - 20 May) has attracted a high-quality entry for the first European gravel fixture of the WRC season.

 Fourteen World Rally Cars feature among the 88 entries for the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, with equally strong line-ups in the WRC 2 and Junior WRC support categories.

Manufacturer series leaders Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team takes four i20 cars to the Matosinhos-based event. Hayden Paddon returns for the first time since February’s Rally Sweden, replacing Dani Sordo in Hyundai’s nominated points-scoring trio.

Teemu Suninen is alongside regulars Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans for the M-Sport Ford squad, while Mads Østberg joins Kris Meeke and Craig Breen in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi team for his second appearance of the year in a C3.

Toyota Gazoo Racing fields its usual trio of Jari-Matti Latvala, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi. Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi drives an older 2016-specification Fiesta World Rally Car.

Seventeen competitors are entered in WRC 2, headed by championship leader Pontus Tidemand. Youngster Juuso Nordgren will partner the Swede in the Skoda Motorsport line-up, the Finn making his first appearance of the year.

Simone Tempestini kicks off his WRC 2 campaign, but not in Citroën’s new C3 R5 as planned. The French manufacturer does not have a car available for this round and so the Romanian pilot will drive a Fiesta.

The Junior WRC boasts 14 drivers, all in identical Fiesta R2 cars, headed by championship leader Dennis Rådström and WRC 3 pace-setter Jean-Baptiste Franceschi.

The four-day rally features 20 special stages covering 358.19km and we’ll begin our build-up on wrc.com tomorrow (Wednesday).

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