Sat 11 May 2024

Solans takes control after Saturday WRC2 shake-up

Jan Solans is on the verge of securing his maiden WRC2 victory following a tumultuous Saturday at Vodafone Rally de Portugal, where he vaulted from fourth to first.

Several of the premier support category’s big names ran into trouble on this penultimate day, which consisted of two loops of four classic gravel stages totalling almost 150km of competitive action.

Overnight leader Oliver Solberg was the first casualty. A momentary lapse of concentration while passing Kalle Rovanperä’s stricken Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 on SS11 caused the Swede to veer wide, rolling his Škoda Fabia RS into retirement. He will not restart on Sunday.

Solberg's exit propelled Yohan Rossel, who arrived in Portugal tied on points with Solberg, to the forefront. However, the Frenchman’s time at the top was short-lived as he had to stop to change a wheel on his Citroën C3 in Paredes 1, losing over 1min 30sec.

Gus Greensmith became the third leader of the day, but just when it seemed that no more drama was possible, the Briton ran wide on a low-speed right-hander during SS14 and beached his Škoda on an embankment.

Josh McErlean, piloting a Fabia under the Toksport banner, was then elevated into the lead. The Irishman topped the standings for three stages before dropping behind Solans with his tyres heavily worn. The pair were split by just 8.0sec at close of play with Rossel just 3.0sec further back.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” Solans beamed. “We are leading WRC2 and it’s been really consistent. Today was a perfect day and we need to keep pushing because there is still a long way to go.”

Despite the unscheduled wheel change, it was generally a positive day for Rossel. The issues faced by Solberg and Greensmith have put him on track to go clear at the top of the championship standings after this fifth round of the season.

Škoda drivers Lauri Joona and Fabrizio Zaldivar rounded out the top five while Roope Korhonen, who nursed an engine issue on his Toyota through Friday, ended sixth.

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