WRC ORLEN 80th Rally Poland
Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
ERC Delfi Rally Estonia
Starts: Friday, July 5, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Fri 05 May 2023

Rally Rewind: Portugal 2022

Vodafone Rally de Portugal (11 - 14 May) marks the second gravel stop on the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship calendar. Let’s recall what happened last year on the stages in northern Portugal.

Rovanperä’s hat-trick
It was a rally to remember for Kalle Rovanperä as the young Finn claimed his third victory in as many events, opening up a commanding championship lead which he carried through to the end of the season.

Victory looked near-impossible for Rovanperä, who started Friday’s opening leg first in the order and consequently cleaned the sandy roads to leave more grip for those following.

But he avoided trouble on the punishing rock-strewn stages, stealing the top spot from Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans on Saturday evening and ending the rally 15.2sec clear of the Welshman.

Anniversary celebrations
A raft of legendary historic rally cars from the WRC’s past took to the stages in celebration of the FIA World Rally Championship's 50th anniversary season.

The biggest-ever gathering of world rally champion drivers, co-drivers and team managers, including Walter Röhrl, Carlos Sainz, Marcus Grönholm, Petter Solberg and Miki Biasion, attended a gala dinner in the days leading up to the rally.

From Thursday onwards, some of the famous cars they piloted featured out on the stages, including the super special tests at Coimbra, Lousada and Porto-Foz. A small number were also driven through Sunday’s legendary Fafe stage - headlined by double world champion Röhrl in an Audi Sport Quattro.

Taka’s podium fight with Sordo
Toyota Gazoo Racing was on course to lockout the podium with Takamoto Katsuta holding third ahead of the Wolf Power Stage. But a fast-closing Dani Sordo, making his first appearance of the season in a Hyundai i20 N, moved ahead in the final kilometres by 2.1sec.

Katsuta was verging on his second WRC podium and was understandably devastated to miss out so close to the finish, but Sordo showed great sportsmanship in consoling the Japanese driver at the end.

Neuville’s technical blow
Thierry Neuville’s temper hit boiling point on Friday afternoon when the front wheel of his Hyundai fell off on a liaison section. A quick fix enabled the Belgian to complete the day, but he dropped time with only two-wheel drive.

Come Sunday, Neuville had recovered to take fifth overall, 18.4sec behind Katsuta.

Suninen’s heartbreak
Victory in WRC2 looked all but guaranteed for Teemu Suninen, who was making his first start of the season with a Hyundai Motorsport-prepared i20 N Rally2.

The Finn headed Yohan Rossel by over half a minute at the start of the final day and claimed a brace of fastest times on Sunday’s opening tests, stretching his lead to a huge 57.1sec before the Wolf Power Stage.

However, Suninen's hopes were shattered just a few corners into the finale when he went off the road - handing glory to rival Rossel.