Thu 11 May 2023

Stellar WRC2 field primed for Portuguese showdown

The popularity of WRC2 is once again highlighted by an awe-inspiring 43-car entry for Vodafone Rally de Portugal (11 - 14 May).

And it’s not just quantity on offer at the FIA World Rally Championship’s fifth round; quality is also here in abundance. Seven of the drivers entered have already tasted triumph in the WRC2 category, while two others boast outright victories in multiple WRC rounds.

Having notched up two wins from two starts so far, 2023 is shaping up to be a strong year for series leader Yohan Rossel. This will be the Citroën C3 Rally2 driver’s first gravel outing of the season as he bids to extend a nine-point championship lead.

With Emil Lindholm busy sitting his university exams, Rally Sweden winner Oliver Solberg is Rossel’s closest title challenger in attendance. He is one of several young stars piloting Škoda machinery, with notable figures Gus Greensmith, Marco Bulacia and Erik Cais also fielding Fabia RS Rally2 cars.

Also steering a Škoda is Andreas Mikkelsen, WRC2 champion in 2021 and three-time world rally winner. The Norwegian, who plans to compete in handpicked rounds this year, is back in action for the first time since last September.   

Adding to the roster of familiar names is Kris Meeke, although the Ulsterman has not previously competed in the premier support category. Renowned for his numerous victories in the sport’s top-flight, Meeke makes a highly anticipated WRC comeback after a four-year absence. He will be co-driven by James Fulton.

Hyundai Motorsport has placed two entries for Teemu Suninen and Fabrizio Zaldivar, while M-Sport Ford’s hopes rest on the shoulders of Adrien Fourmaux and Grégoire Munster.

Other drivers to watch include Robert Virves (Ford), Lauri Joona (Škoda) and Alejandro Cachón (Citroën), while the the event also showcases a wealth of local talent. Portuguese entrants include Armindo Araújo (Škoda) and Bernardo Sousa (Citroën) plus Nuno Pinto (Citroën), who coaches F1 driver Lance Stroll.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM