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Thu 11 May 2023

Strategy will be key in Rally de Portugal's opening leg

FIA World Rally Championship crews are predicting a strategic approach to the opening day of this week’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal (11 - 14 May).

Friday’s opening day includes seven tough gravel stages centred around a remote tyre zone in Arganil. The lack of a conventional mid-day service means the crews need to tread the fine line between pace and possible problems.

With some of the stages looking rougher than expected during the pre-event recce earlier this week, the teams are still debating what level of spares to take in the cars. The crews are only allowed to fit parts carried in their own car through Friday.

Championship leader Elfyn Evans said: “It’s always a tricky one to know how to play days like Friday. We’re looking at options with the engineers, but, you know, you can’t carry everything in the car.”

Running first on the road, Toyota’s Welshman knows he could be in for a long Friday sweeping the stages clean.

“We know the road will get quicker with every car,” he said. “We’ll just do our best and see how it goes. It’s a tough day, it’s about trying to find that balance. It’s pretty rough in places, we’ve seen that from the recce – probably the roughest roads of the event.”

Starting further back in the order, Hyundai’s Dani Sordo admitted he could be looking at a similar approach.

“It’s an advantage in places to be further back,” said the Spaniard, who starts seventh on the road. “But at the same time we can find some big rocks from the guys ahead. We saw already some on the recce – we have to be a little bit careful in places.”