Rally Portugal 2024 Preview

The championship moves onto the fifth round and there are just six points separating the top two crews from Hyundai and Toyota.

Interestingly Toyota have four cars entered for this round with their two world champion crews joining Elfyn and Takamoto in the entry list. At Hyundai, Dani and his co-driver Candido join the two regular crews for their first round this year. M-Sport have their usual crews and Adrien will hope that he can continue to target good results and will be third on the road throughout Friday.

The crews have 337km’s over 22 stages with the longest day being Saturday at 145km’s. Let’s hear from the drivers.


Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“Success in Portugal comes down to the same factors as always. We need consistency, a good setup and confidence in the car. Road conditions and position will also make a huge difference to how we perform: whenever it’s raining we will be fast, when it’s dry we will struggle more because everyone knows the stages well. I was happy with the car in the pre-event test, and we focussed on a setup that would bring me the necessary confidence to push in very slippery conditions. This more precise car is needed for all the corner combinations, but I still need some of the traction we focussed on in Kenya. My goals are to optimise our performance on Friday and Saturday before pushing on Sunday for maximum points, I would love to finish on the top step of the podium.”

Ott Tänak

“After Croatia, it’s great to go back to a rougher surface. Portugal is really enjoyable – it’s an event I am looking forward to. It’s a fast rally with high speeds and usually smooth on the first run and very rough on the second. During this part of the season, it starts to get warmer, and Portugal is one of the first rallies where it can get quite challenging for the car and the tyres. The contrast from the first to the second loop is noticeable because of how the soft roads can become so rutted. We have already done the pre-event test and there is definitely still work to do, but I am really looking forward to pushing hard.”

Dani Sordo

“I’m really excited to be back in the car, especially in Portugal. It’s always a special rally for everyone – both drivers and spectators. It is a unique challenge for the car because of the temperatures and profile of the stages, so getting the right setup is key to doing well in Portugal. We worked a lot on the pre-event test to try and perfect this so we can push hard next weekend. It will be interesting with a lot of the part-time field being so competitive this season, and with road position being another important factor in going well on this kind of gravel, there will be a huge push across a cleaner line at the back of the order. The ultimate goal in my mind is to win, but I am hoping to claim as many points as possible from the weekend for the team.”

2023 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally de Portugal
11-14 May 2023
Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera,
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans

“We’re into a busy part of the season now with rallies coming thick and fast, and our focus moves back to gravel for the next events. Portugal can be quite a nice rally with some fast and flowing sections, but recently it’s also become more of a challenge in terms of how rough the roads can get, especially in some of the classic stages further south that we drive on Friday. Like always on gravel, road position could be a factor but it’s also a rally that can really depend on the weather. We just have to focus on doing the best job we can with the conditions we have and try to take the maximum from the weekend.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“I’m looking forward to these next rallies on gravel and I’m confident that they can be good events for me. Portugal especially is a rally that I like, and I know the stages pretty well, and our car should work well there. There are some famous stages like Fafe with many jumps, and some stages that are very rough with a lot of rocks, especially on Friday. But if it’s going well, I will try to push as much as I can. As I’m not registered to score points for the team on this event, I have no pressure on that side, and I can just focus on driving fast and trying to do my best.”

Sébastien Ogier

“I’m excited to be returning to Portugal after a year away. It’s a country that I have a lot of good memories of, maybe a bit more from when the rally was in the south rather than the north. Still, the atmosphere is always great there and I look forward to that. It’s a rally where normally we should not be at a disadvantage with our road position, and maybe it can even benefit us a bit – but it’s too early to say for certain because there can also be heavy rain there sometimes. It will be my first time competing on gravel for a while, but we had a good test last week and I’m looking forward to the rally.”

Kalle Rovanperä

“I’m really looking forward to Portugal. It’s a rally that I really like. There’s a lot of fans and a great atmosphere, and the stages have very nice characteristics. They seem to suit me quite well: we’ve had some really nice success there in the last two years. Of course, our aim will be to try and win again this year, but it’s never easy. All of the top drivers know the stages quite well, so the pace is usually pretty high, and it can be quite a close fight there. Maybe our road position could help us, but we will have to see what the weather does, because rain can really change things quite a bit.”


M-Sport Ford WRT

Adrien Fourmaux

“Rally Portugal is a really famous and spectacular rally! The roads are all in the middle of the mountains, so they’re really technical and we normally have very tough conditions where the temperatures are quite high. It’s really demanding for the cars and the crew.

“It’s going to be my fourth time in Portugal, I really like it as a rally, especially when you finish the Power Stage at Fafe and there are so many fans there watching. I’m looking forward to enjoying the atmosphere and hopefully achieving another good result.”

Grégoire Munster

“We had a good pre-event test, with two days of testing last week. Portugal will be a lot like Sardinia, a bit of a tricky one for us because we don’t have a lot of experience compared to our fellow competitors. Thanks to my great idea to roll the car on the first stage of the rally last year, it means we lack the knowledge of the stages, so we will try to grab a lot of experience in both Portugal and Sardinia to move forward into the second part of the season’s gravel rallies with confidence.”

William Creighton (WRC2)

“This will be my first gravel rally in the WRC with the Fiesta rally2, and I’m looking forward to it after our podium on BRC’s Severn Valley stages. Rally Portugal is always enjoyable with a good atmosphere but it’s a big challenge; Friday will be difficult with extremely rough stages and no service. It looks like it’s going to be a warm rally too, so it’ll be a proper challenge for the me, Liam and the car!”

Oliver Solberg (WRC2)

“Honestly, this event is one of the best. Everything about Portugal is special. The history, the people, the stages, they’re all so cool. It’s a fantastic place to come and drive a rally car.

“It’s been a while since I was in the car for Safari (March 28-31), but I’ve been doing plenty of training out in the buggies and flat out on the quadbikes since then. We will have a test before the rally, but I think we have a fairly good idea of what to expect from this one. The weather can sometimes be quite interesting – we’re a long way to the west in Europe and near to the coast, so rain can come quickly.

“I would like the rain! Especially on the first day. We’re going to be running further up on the road and if it stays dry, the grip is going to get better and better for our competitors running behind us on the road. If it’s wet, we have a small advantage – or certainly no disadvantage!

“The competition will be strong this year, maybe even the strongest across the whole season. There will be a lot of very, very good drivers out there and some of them in new cars. It’s going to be interesting to see how this one goes. I think we have the speed we need to win and I think we have a good chance – we’re joint leaders of the championship, so we know a win would be good enough to give us a bigger lead. That’s what we’re aiming for.

“And this year, no donuts…”


We are set for a great rally and possibly a new championship leader at the end of the event. With Thierry opening the road, it is hard to see him finishing on the podium. With that in mind as long as Elfyn can finish more than six points ahead, we could see the change at the top. The variable however comes with the points system and its effect on the championship standings so far.

Who can win this rally then? Well, either Kalle or Seb could take victory for Toyota, but if their teammate Elfyn can stay close to the top three by the end of Friday, perhaps he could figure in the fight as well? Ott and Dani though will want to spoil the hopes of Toyota and with a good road position for both of them, they could be in the mix as well. Finally, Adrien, who is third still in the championship standings could also be in the mix for the podium.

In WRC2 I suspect there will be an almighty battle between Gus, Oliver, Nikolay, Yohan, Sami and Teemu for the podium positions and the top step. William will be making his debut on gravel in the Fiesta Rally2 and will hope that he can learn a lot to take to future events for M-Sport.

The action gets underway with shakedown on Thursday morning at 8am UK time, before the first stage at 7pm the same evening.


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