Tue 07 May 2024

Portugal poised for WRC2 extravaganza

Vodafone Rally de Portugal has attracted one of the strongest WRC2 entries in recent memory, with a staggering 38 Rally2 cars ready to tackle the Matosinhos-based event.

Title contenders Oliver Solberg (Škoda Fabia RS), Yohan Rossel (Citroën C3), and Nikolay Gryazin (Citroën C3) are blanketed by a mere three points as they enter the fifth round of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship season, with all three set to compete in Portugal.

Gus Greensmith is another one to watch after the Briton claimed victory on Safari Rally Kenya, the sole previous gravel rally so far this season. He, like Solberg, drives a Toksport-prepared Škoda, and beat the Swede to victory by just 1.2sec here last year.

Vodafone Rally de Portugal will mark the debut WRC outing on gravel for Toyota’s GR Yaris Rally2, introduced at the beginning of this year. Drivers using the car include Roope Korhonen, Georg Linnamäe and Sami Pajari, the latter having secured a second-place finish on his last point-scoring start in Sweden.

“We mostly had dry conditions in our tests,” Pajari said, “though there were some wetter sections as well. We have a good understanding of what the car can do, whether it's dry or wet. The tests went well and left us feeling very positive.”

Pierre-Louis Loubet, who drove a Ford Puma Rally1 for M-Sport in the top category last year, has shifted his focus to a WRC2 campaign for 2024. Behind the wheel of another Fabia, the Frenchman makes his season debut with new co-driver Loris Pascaud.

Other notable entries include five-time WRC rally winner Kris Meeke in a Hyundai i20 N plus Teemu Suninen in a similar car. Portugal’s Paulo Neto and Spain’s Pepe López are the leading seeds in the WRC Masters’ Cup and WRC2 Challenger respectively.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM