Wednesday | 20 May 2015

Newcomers swell Junior ranks in Portugal

Fifteen crews are set to line-up at the second round of the FIA Junior WRC at Vodafone Rally de Portugal, with eight drivers beginning their campaigns on the classic stages in the north of the country.

The Frenchman Quentin Gilbert currently leads the championship standings after his win in Monte-Carlo, ahead of the German Christian Riedemann and the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby.

Hot favourites to do well in Portugal too, Gilbert and Veiby will be back at the wheel of their DS 3 R3-MAX cars this weekend, while Riedemann will be absent - having not nominated the event as one of his six scoring rallies from the seven round season.

Heading the Junior WRC newcomers is Welshman Osian Pryce, who tested in the rally region earlier this week to get a valuable insight into the northern Portuguese roads which will be new to all competitors.

“It was really useful to get a look at them,” said Pryce. “I must admit, I was surprised at just how rough the stage got and how quickly the surface changed. We did four runs pretty much back-to-back and the road was in a terrible state.”

“I’m really looking forward to the recce. It’s going to be fascinating to see what the roads are like. There’s so much rally history about this place, I can’t wait to see it first hand – especially the jump and the hairpin on the Fafe stage,” added Pryce.

Irishman Dean Raftery and the French drivers Pierre-Louis Loubet, Jean-René Perry and Matthieu Margaillan will also make their maiden appearance in the Junior WRC this weekend.

They will be joined by Emirati Mohammed Al Mutawaa, Finland's Henri Haapamaki and the Swiss Federico Della Casa who all competed in the 2014 championship but begin their 2015 campaigns in Portugal.

All Junior WRC competitors are also eligible to score points in the FIA WRC 3 Championship. Heading to Portugal, Veiby leads the WRC 3 standings after his class win at Rally Sweden.

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Video: Get set for Portugal...