A total of 40 crews will fight for honours in the WRC’s premier support category with championship leader Andreas Mikkelsen topping the list.
The Škoda Fabia Rally2 driver holds a 15 point championship lead thanks to back-to-back victories in Monte-Carlo and Sweden, although he hasn’t competed since the winter fixture in February.
Mikkelsen was sidelined for last year’s event after testing positive for Covid-19 before the rally, but he got to grips with the conditions he’ll likely face this week at a pre-event test on Monday.
“It’s good to be back,” said Mikkelsen. “It’s felt like a long time since Sweden, but we had a good pre-event test and we were getting to grips with the car on gravel again.
“I got Covid last year before starting the event and we missed a lot of mileage, but the feeling is all good and everything is working well.
“Our objective for the weekend is to be fighting at the front. We want to try to get maximum points and we’ll take it from there,” he added.
Teemu Suninen makes his first start of the 2022 season in a factory-run Hyundai i20 N Rally2. It’s the Finn’s first time at a WRC event since he stepped in for Ott Tänak in Hyundai’s top-tier i20 at ACI Rally Monza last year.
Oliver Solberg will join Suninen in the Hyundai squad as he temporarily gives up his WRC seat for Dani Sordo, while WRC2 Junior frontrunner Marco Bulacia joins Mikkelsen in the Toksport Škoda camp.
Fabia stalwart Kajetan Kajetanowicz hopes to build on his second place at the Croatia Rally. He’ll be chasing down Yohan Rossel’s Citroën C3, which carried the Frenchman to victory last time out.
Chris Ingram is another driver fighting out of the Toksport camp while Jan Solans gets his campaign underway in another Citroën. Eric Camilli continues his title pursuit in a similar car.
Other leading entries include Eerik Pietarinen and Georg Linnamäe in a pair of Volkswagen Polos, Erik Cais in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 plus Hyundai duo Fabrizio Zaldivar and Josh McErlean. Armin Kremer is the top-seeded WRC2 Masters driver.
Native crews are also well-represented. They include Portuguese national series leader Armindo Araújo (Fabia), José Pedro Fontes (Citroën) and Hyundai Portugal team-mates Bruno Magalhães and Ricardo Teodósio.
- Full coverage from Vodafone Rally de Portugal will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.