Rally Portugal 2024 – Day One Report – Friday

The first full day of competition and after the first stage on Thursday Thierry held the lead by a slender six tenths of a second from Seb and Ott.

First stage then, SS2 Mortágua 1 – 18.15 km and Thierry opened the road and found some good pace out there. The stage was narrow and also had damp sections in places. Only one driver was fastest than the Belgian and that was Takamoto. He was fastest of all whilst Ott was third, Thierry between them both. The pace from the Japanese driver lifted him up to second overall, just eight tenths behind Thierry. In WRC2 Oliver was fastest, but as Pepe crashed out behind him, all the other crews were given a notional time.

Onto SS3 Lousã 1 – 12.28 km and Dani showed he was back and in a big way winning the stage from Kalle and Ott. Thierry was seventh fastest and dropped from the lead to third overall. Ott was now ahead of his teammate and in second place, just 1.5 seconds from Takamoto. In WRC2 Pierre-Louis was fastest from Josh and Gus. Oliver remained in the lead of the category from Gus and Yohan.

Dani also won SS4 Góis 1 – 14.30 km from Kalle and Adrien. Takamoto was still in the lead from Ott and Kalle had now moved up into third overall with Thierry falling one position to fourth. Dani was also on the move with his stage winning pace bringing him up to fifth overall. The morning was not going well for Elfyn as his lack of pace saw him fall three positions to eighth overall. In WRC2 there was a change for the lead as Gus went fastest from Pierre-Louis and Yohan. Oliver could only manage the fifth best time and fell to second place, the gap between the Toksport teammates now 2.7 seconds.

The final stage before the tyre fitting zone, there was no mid-day service today, SS5 Arganil 1 – 18.72 km and Thierry was fastest from Kalle and Takamoto. The Belgians pace took him back into second overall. In WRC2 Oliver was fastest from Pierre-Louis and Yohan. This pace took the Swede back into the lead, a huge 8.7 seconds ahead of Gus.

After the break, the stages were run in the opposite direction with SS6 Lousã 2 – 12.28 km coming the first afternoon stage. Seb was fastest from Kalle and Dani. It was all change on the leaderboard with Kalle passing Takamoto who fell from the lead but only by one tenth of a second separated them. Thierry also fell down again to fifth place, but only 3.9 seconds separated the top five. In WRC2 Pierre-Louis was fastest from Yohan and Gus. Oliver remained the category leader but saw his lead trimmed to four seconds.

Dani made SS7 Góis 2 – 14.30 km his, winning the stage, his third of the day from Seb and Kalle. The gap at the top remained really close with Takamoto still just two tenths of a second from Kalle who still led. Dani went past Thierry into fifth place as well. Meanwhile Elfyn and Scott’s day got worse as first there was a puncture and then a problem with the pace notebook and Scott had to use his mobile phone in which he had a back-up. At least they remained in eighth overall. In WRC2 Gus was again fastest from Yohan and Sami and the Brit retook the lead by three tenths from Oliver.

Kalle was fastest in SS8 Arganil 2 – 18.72 km from Ott and Takamoto and just one second separated the two Toyota teammates. Ott was also moving up, passing Seb for third overall. In WRC2 Oliver struck back, passing Gus again for the lead, just one tenth again separating them. What a battle!

The final stage then, SS9 Mortágua 2 – 18.15 km and Seb was quickest from Kalle and Ott and this led to a change in the positions behind Kalle who remained in the lead, his closest challenger being Seb now who was a second behind his teammate and Takamoto was third.

Let’s take a look at the top positions and hear from some of the crews.

Classification after Day One

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid 1:25.00.4
2 S. Ogier V. Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +1.0
3 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +4.7
4 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +5.4
5 D. Sordo C. Carrera Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +17.9
6 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +18.1
7 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +31.8
8 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +1:43.2
9 G. Munster L. Louka Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +2:27.3
10 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Škoda Fabia RS +3:42.1

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Kalle Rovanperä

“It was a great battle today. It was nice to finish it fighting with Seb and there are many drivers still close behind us. I can’t be fully happy with the day as it was a bit of a struggle in places, but we had a clean day and I think we made the most out of it. With no mid-day service today, there are still some things we can work on with the car tonight. Hopefully we can find a bit more feeling and pace and tomorrow can be even better. There’s going to be another long day of pushing ahead and we need to be sharp already from the first stage.”

Sébastien Ogier

“It’s been very close today and exciting for everyone to follow. It was surprising to see the conditions so consistent for everybody in the morning and still the gaps are closer than we usually see on gravel. The feeling was a bit better this afternoon with a better rhythm, and our tyre choice was more aggressive with only one spare and that probably helped our speed. We needed to push in the last stage after an issue with the hybrid in the previous one, as we knew our position tonight was critical for the starting place tomorrow. We could produce a good time, and now we need to keep pushing.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“It has not been an easy day. This morning we were leading but still I wasn’t completely happy with my driving. In the afternoon it was better, I tried to make less mistakes and it went well. I was lacking a bit of pace in some stages, but overall, I should be happy because we are in third place and not too far from the lead. It was so tight between all the drivers, competing against world champions and with everybody pushing, so it’s been a fun day. Tomorrow will be more challenging with some different conditions, but I will try to enjoy the driving and keep pushing.”

Elfyn Evans

“It wasn’t the day we hoped for today. We were missing the ultimate feeling behind the wheel and with that came some time loss, and then we had a few different issues this afternoon on top of that. To lose the pacenote book was not ideal but it’s one of those things; Scott is well-prepared and had a backup on his phone, he dealt with it remarkably well and it wasn’t disturbing things too much. In terms of the overall result, it’s looking like a difficult weekend for us now, but we have to keep going. It’s important to try and find a good feeling with the car and be ready to fight for some points on Sunday.”


Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak

“We had a trouble-free day which is definitely very positive, but on the other side I would say we never really found the feeling we needed in the car. I was pushing and trying to manage it, but generally it was not working out how I wanted. The balance isn’t there, which naturally I feel like it should be. Everybody is very close because the stages are so well known, the characteristics will be very different but it’s still difficult to make a difference when everyone is on the same page. Let’s see what we can do overnight.”

Dani Sordo

“I think today was a tough day for everybody. When you are facing that many stages and you spend that much time in the car, it’s never easy. Despite that everything felt really good in the car, winning three stages at my first rally back since Japan last year is a great start for the rest of the weekend. We know we dropped a bit of time on the last stages of the day, but we will push tomorrow to make up for it. Tomorrow is even longer, so we have plenty of opportunities.”

2024 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally de Portugal
9 – 12 Mai 2024
Dani Sordo
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville

“Whilst I would say the stages this year are much more enjoyable; they are definitely harder to navigate. This paired with the fact that I was cleaning the road all day meant that there was no way to go much faster. Despite this, it was a good day for us, and we did as much as we could in these conditions. The car was working well and opting for the two softs this afternoon was definitely the right decision in helping us go faster in our road position. Tomorrow we are hoping to push to try and make the most out of our runs once again.”



Oliver Solberg

“It’s been quite a good day for us. There have been some issues here and there, some small things with the car, but we are leading, and this is the only thing which matters!

“We knew the roads would be quite rough and abrasive for us and this was definitely the story today. We have been playing with the tyre strategy, trying to make sure we can look after the tyres we have. It’s not always so easy when you are driving with this kind of thing in the mind, but you have to do it.


“Obviously we didn’t have the main service today, it was just a remote tyre zone – so we couldn’t make any big changes or work on the car. You have to keep this in the head as well when you’re driving. But OK, we are here.


“It’s good to end the day with another stage win, I like that. Now we can look forward to tomorrow.”



Day Two – Saturday

The second full day will also see the crews tackle 145km’s over nine stages. Who will hold the lead at the end of the day?

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