Rally Portugal 2024 – Day Three Report – Sunday

The final day of round five for this season’s championship. Two Toyota’s returned to the startlist with Kalle and Takamoto rejoining following their problems on Saturday. The double world champion would open the road throughout the day.

First up was SS19 Cabeceiras de Basto 1 – 19.91 km and the fog had descended overnight causing a huge lack of visibility on the stage. Seb was fastest from Thierry and Ott, meaning that the Frenchman was opening up his lead a little bit more. There was a change further back in the positions with Adrien passing Dani for fourth position. In WRC2, Sami was fastest from Josh and Jan and the Irishman supported by Motorsport Ireland had reduced the gap to the category leader to just three seconds.

Into SS20 Fafe 1 – 11.18 km the stage which had a huge amount of fog throughout the stage and would be the power stage later and Ott was fastest from Thierry and Seb. Kalle was saving tyres for the power stage later and would set the 11th best time in amongst the WRC2 leaders. In WRC2, Sami was fastest from Josh and Jan who dropped behind Josh, the gap just one tenth of a second between first and second place.

Time then for the penultimate stage, SS21 Cabeceiras de Basto 2 – 19.91 km and Ott set the pace from Thierry and Adrien. The Estonian took a few seconds out of Seb, but it was clear that the Frenchman was managing the gap by keeping a good, controlled pace. In WRC2 Jan was fastest from Yohan whilst Josh who was having problems with understeer in his Skoda fell behind the Spaniard into second position.

Time then for the final stage, SS22 Fafe 2[Power Stage] – 11.18 km and although Kalle was first into the stage a number of crews could not beat his time, until Thierry and then Ott came through pushing hard with the result that Thierry won the stage from Ott, Kalle third, Seb fourth and Takamoto fifth.

Seb won the rally from Ott in second and Thierry came in third. In WRC2, Jan Solans took victory with Josh taking second position and Lauri was third. Each crew in WRC2 took their best ever result in the category and this was also the first win in the category for the Yaris Rally2.

Let’s take a look at the finishing positions and hear from the drivers.

Final Overall Classification – Rally de Portugal

1 S. Ogier V. Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid 3:41.32.3
2 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +7.9
3 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +1:09.8
4 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +1:47.8
5 D. Sordo C. Carrera Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +2:48.9
6 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +6:36.0
7 N. Gryazin K. Aleksandrov Citroën C3 +11:48.4
8 J. Solans R. Sanjuan Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 +11:52.9
9 J. McErlean J. Fulton Škoda Fabia RS +11:56.1
10 L. Joona J. Hussi Škoda Fabia RS +13:40.3

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier

“To take another win feels great. It’s nice to achieve some more cool numbers and I have to enjoy and cherish these moments. I had nothing against being tied on five wins for a few years with Markku Alén because for me he’s a legend and I have huge respect for him, but I’ve been asked many times when I was going to take the record and now finally it happened. It was another intense fight for everyone to follow and for us in the car there was no moment to relax. I think the way we managed everything was close to perfect: we could always stay in contention for the win without taking maximum risk when it didn’t feel 100 per cent.”

Kalle Rovanperä

“A big thank you to the team for fixing the car after the disappointment of yesterday, and sorry to them for losing such important points. It was nice to be back out today, but it was not easy, cleaning the road was even tougher than we expected. On the Power Stage we really tried our best, I thought it was a good drive and a clean run, but the road was cleaning so much that the guys behind came a bit faster. Still, we got a few points so we did what we could to help the team. It was not the weekend we wanted but we will come back stronger.”

Elfyn Evans

“This morning things were going a bit better than yesterday, but in the third stage we had a rock impact on the underside of the car that damaged the radiator. After that we had to get the car through in EV mode, and we managed to make a repair to get to the finish but unfortunately, we didn’t get any extra points from the day. We definitely found a better feeling in the car but there are still a couple of areas to work on. At least we have some answers from the weekend. We’ll try to turn things around and have a stronger rally in Sardinia.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“Of course, it’s quite disappointing still that we retired yesterday because we could have had a much better result. But I had a very good feeling with the car here, it felt really good until that moment yesterday. Today was not so easy because we were without hybrid for some stages and the road position wasn’t good for us, but it was nice to at least get some points. I tried to keep pushing every stage as much as I can and learned a lot. There are some positives to take and now I focus on Sardinia, try to prepare well and keep pushing.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak

“The outcome is not too bad, it was just very unfortunate to pick up the slow puncture, but otherwise I would say very positive. Without the puncture, I think I could have gone for the win. On Friday I was struggling the most, but after I was slowly getting used to the car and that let me find a good rhythm. On Saturday the stages were very different, and overnight I was able to understand what I needed to do differently from Friday to make the most of the car. We are not far away from being in a place where I feel confident controlling the car, but it’s still a bit difficult to make the car match my driving style. I am looking forward to Sardinia, it’s a rally I usually enjoy and I’m hoping to take my performance one step further.”

2024 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally de Portugal
09-12 May 2024
Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville

“It’s been a great Super Sunday for us once again after another positive day on Friday. A very challenging and difficult weekend but we finished with the result we needed, plus another five points in the Power Stage. We’ve increased the lead in the championship for us by 24 points, which is a strong lead to have before Sardinia where another challenging weekend is waiting for us. We want to continue to push and be consistent in the car; it wasn’t the greatest Saturday, but Friday and Sunday were really good, and the pace was right in the Power Stage, so that was promising. We will come back and fight for important points in Sardinia.”

Dani Sordo

“Today was a little bit difficult with the conditions we had in the morning, but the first two days were really promising. Of course, I’m happy to get to the end of the day with some really good points, and for my first weekend back with the team I think we have still managed to help them get back to the top of the manufacturers’ championship. It was a good gravel rally to start with, one that I know well, and it’s a good one to enter before Sardinia. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do back in the car at the next event, and I want to thank the team again for helping me finish the weekend in the top five.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Adrien Fourmaux

“I think we can be really happy, because it wasn’t so easy to be third on the road on the opening days! I think we have shown really good pace considering that, keeping close to the leaders and fighting today [Sunday] with the top guys who are fighting for the victory. It’s been a fantastic rally, a really good atmosphere with all the fans watching, it’s really nice. The car has been perfect, no issues at all and we’re pleased with our performance. It gives us confidence for the next rally in Sardinia.”

William Creighton

“It’s always a tricky weekend, we’ll have to come back again to get a full, clean Portugal rally. If you do that here, it gets you a good result. The stages weren’t as rough this year as previously, and that made Friday really enjoyable. After Friday, I think the stages were quite different, a lot more sand, and we struggled to get a nice feeling.

“But we’ve made good steps today [Sunday], we’re always learning, and we’ve got to keep working to improve. Sardinia is very like Portugal, so it’s a good practice for that. Thank you to everyone at M-Sport and the MI Rally Academy for keeping me and Liam right.”

Grégoire Munster

“Rally Portugal didn’t end well for us, we got hooked up in a cut and landed stuck on a ditch by the sump guard, and unfortunately, we couldn’t continue. All in all, we learned plenty during this rally. By opening the road on Saturday, we had to do a lot of cleaning; it wasn’t easy, but it was good learning for us. We also saw our times improve throughout the weekend on the second passes, on a rally that was basically new for us, we felt this was good practice and we had a good feeling in the car. We will carry the experience on to Sardinia in a couple of weeks.”

 

Summary

Well, what an amazing rally and what a victory for Seb, their second of the year and also in a row. It was also a record breaking sixth win for the Frenchman, moving him ahead of Markku Alén who won this rally five times.

It was a good rally for Ott who showed good pace, fighting for victory and taking a good points haul. It bodes well for the upcoming rallies.

Thierry made mistakes, but came through and took third place, increasing his championship lead over Elfyn.

 

Next rally is Rally Italia Sardinia, taking place from the 31st of May to the 2nd of June.

 

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After round five

1 T. Neuville 110
2 E. Evans 86
3 O. Tänak 79
4 A. Fourmaux 71
5 S. Ogier 70
6 T. Katsuta 49
7 K. Rovanpera 36
8 E. Lappi 23
9 A. Mikkelsen 14
10 O. Solberg 12

 

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After round five

1 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 219
2 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 215
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 110

Formula E Season 10 Round 9 and 10: Cassidy and Da Costa Both take Victory in Berlin as Title Battle Heats Up

Berlin is an all time classic on the Formula E calendar. Round 9 and 10 were no different with dramatic races happening on both Saturday and Sunday!

Key Moments from Race 9

  • Edoardo Mortara started on pole ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne.
  • Sette Camara tried to take P3 away from Vergne
  • There were big battles for the final points paying positions from Ticktum,Evans, Cassidy, Rowland and Van Der Linde
  • Vandoorne, Vergne, Da Costa and Mortara were all battling for the lead into the tight double right turns of 6 and 7. 
  • Racing was brought to a halt when a full course yellow was brought out due to a stopped Envision on track of Joel Eriksson. This was an eventual safety car. 
  • The safety car came in on lap 17 and Vergne tried to hold the lead while Wehrlein went for the overtake in the double right turns before the hairpin and made it stick. 
  • Di Grassi spun due to contact with Sette Camara after the restart.
  • Guenther ended up in the wall after the restart and on lap 30, the safety car came out again.
  • The safety car came back in on lap 34 and at the restart, there was 4 wide for the lead.
  • Da Costa came out in the lead.
  • Lap 41 saw Wehrlein take the lead before more overtakes occuring to see Vergne lead and Cassidy holding his nerve.
  • Once Cassidy was in the lead, there was no looking back as he took victory!

 

The cars pull away at the start of the race Image Credit: Formula E Media Bank

Race 9 Results

Position Driver Team Points
1st Nick Cassidy Jaguar TCS Racing 26
2nd Jean-Eric Vergne DS Penske 18
3rd Oliver Rowland Nissan Formula E Team 15
4th Mitch Evans Jaguar TCS Racing 12
5th Pascal Wehrlein Tag Heur Porsche Formula E Team 10
6th Antonio Felix Da Costa  Tag Heur Porsche Formula E Team 8
7th Stoffel Vandoorne DS Penske 6
8th Edordo Mortara Mahindra Racing 7
9th Sacha Fenestraz Nissan Formula E Team 2
10th Taylor Barnard NEOM McLaren Formula E Team 1
11th Kelvin Van Der Linde Abt Cupra 0
12th Jordan King Mahindra Racing 0
13th Paul Aron Envision Racing 0
14th Dan Ticktum ERT Formula E Team 0
15th Jake Hughes NEOM McLaren Formula E Team 0
16th Sergio Sette Camara ERT Formula E Team 0
17th Jehan Daruvala Maserati MSG Racing 0
18th Norman Nato Andretti Formula E 0
DNF Jake Dennis Andretti Formula E 0
DNF Maximilian Guenther Maserati MSG Racing 0
DNF Lucas Di Grassi Abt Cupra 0
DNF Joel Eriksson Envision Racing 0

 

Key Moments from Race 10

  • Dennis started on pole but Cassidy lead the grid down to turn 1
  • Further on into the race it was a Porsche 1-2.
  • Guenther crashed early on in the race and brought out a safety car. He got going again but it was to retire the car.
  • On lap 18, Rowland had a damaged front wing and Mortara had not taken either attack mode.
  • Vandoorne went for a dive between lap 20 and 21 but got damage with his front wing going under his car.
  • He ended up losing control and put Fenestraz onto 2 wheels.
  • Da Costa had a large advantage by the beginning of the end of the race.
  • Nato and Fenestraz ended up in the wall with the Andretti driver managing to get away but the safety car was brought out.
  • By lap 27, we had Da Costa P1, Rowland P2 abd Evans P3.
  • When the safety car came in, there was big battles between Dennis and Wehrlein and Evans and Da Costa.
  • Nato ended up with a 10 second time penalty for his collision with Fenestraz.
  • We had 3 added laps while Barnard overtook his teammate and Dennis.
  • Cassidy overtook Rowland when we headed into added laps while Evans lost 2 places in 2 corners.
  • Da Costa took victory in Berlin with Cassidy P2 and Rowland P3.

Race 10 Results

Position Driver Team Points
1st Antonio Felix Da Costa  Tag Heur Porsche Formula E Team 25
2nd Nick Cassidy Jaguar TCS Racing 19
3rd Oliver Rowland Nissan Formula E Team 15
4th Pascal Wehrlein Tag Heur Porsche Formula E Team 12
5th Jake Dennis Andretti Formula E 13
6th Mitch Evans Jaguar TCS Racing 8
7th Jehan Daruvala Maserati MSG Racing 6
8th Taylor Barnard NEOM McLaren Formula E Team 4
9th Joel Eriksson Envision Racing 2
10th Jean-Eric Vergne DS Penske 1
11th Lucas Di Grassi Abt Cupra 0
12th Jake Hughes NEOM McLaren Formula E Team 0
13th Sergio Sette Camara ERT Formula E Team 0
14th Paul Aron Envision Racing 0
15th Kelvin Van Der Linde Abt Cupra 0
16th Edo Mortara Mahindra Racing 0
17th Dan Ticktum ERT Formula E Team 0
18th Jordan King Mahindra Racing 0
19th Norman Nato Andretti Formula E 0
20th Stoffel Vandoorne DS Penske 0
DNF Sacha Fenestraz Nissan Formula E Team 0
DNF Maximilian Guenther Maserati MSG Racing 0
Antonio Felix da Costa, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, Porsche 99X Electric Gen3, leads Oliver Rowland, Nissan Formula E Team, Nissan e-4ORCE 04 Image Credit: Formula E Media Bank

Championship Standings After Round 10

Position Driver Team Points
1st Nick Cassidy Jaguar TCS Racing 140
2nd Pascal Wehrlein Tag Heur Porsche Formula E Team 124
3rd Oliver Rowland Nissan Formula E Team 118
4th Jake Dennis Andretti Formula E 102
5th Mitch Evans Jaguar TCS Racing 97
6th Jean-Eric Vergne DS Penske 84
7th Maximilian Guenther Maserati MSG Racing 65
8th Antonio Felix Da Costa Tag Heur Porsche Formula E Team 59
9th Stoffel Vandoorne DS Penske 43
10th Sam Bird NEOM McLaren Formula E Team 38
11th Sacha Fenestraz Nissan Formula E Team 26
12th Jake Hughes NEOM McLaren Formula E Team 25
13th Norman Nato Andretti Formula E 24
14th Robin Frijns Envision Racing 21
15th Sebastian Buemi Envision Racing 20
16th Nico Mueller Abt Cupra 18
17th Dan Ticktum ERT Formula E Team 12
18th Sergio Sette Camara ERT Formula E Team 11
19th Jehan Daruvala Maserati MSG Racing 8
20th Edoardo Mortara Mahindra Racing 7
21st Taylor Barnard NEOM McLaren Formula E Team 5
22nd Joel Eriksson Envision Racing 2
23rd Lucas Di Grassi Abt Cupra 1
24th Kelvin Van Der Linde Abt Cupra 0
25th Nyck De Vries Mahindra Racing 0
26th Jordan King Mahindra Racing 0
27th Paul Aron Envision Racing 0

Driver of the Weekend

For me, the driver of the weekend is a very tough one. However, I think I will give it to Joel Eriksson. The rookies this weekend have been VERY surprising (and in a good way) which will probably give a lot of team principals headaches as after FULL 1 race weekend, 2 have  already stored in Taylor Barnard and Joel Eriksson. Even though I have have chosen a mix of about 5 drivers, Joel gets my pick. 

Driver with the most improvement needed

I think Norman Nato needs to pick up his pace in terms of racing after this weekend. While he can have some good moments like in qualifying and some bad luck, ultimately, his collision with Fenestraz was not a good light for the French driver, especially as there are only 6 races left and Andretti will more than likely be starting to think about the seat next to Jake Dennis for 2025 and beyond as we head into Gen3 EVO. With the rookie test happening tomorrow with Zane Maloney and Jak Crawford at the team too, the pressure is building on Nato. 

Prediction for Shanghai

The next 2 rounds of Formula E are at the Shanghai International Circuit. While a lot of the circuit is similar to the Formula 1 model, there are only 12 corners and cuts out the long right hander and long straight from the Formula 1 model. I have a feeling this could be a Jake Dennis win on either day. 

MotoGP: Martin Wins Stunning Race in Le Mans

Le Man is a circuit full of history and prestige. Today, it delivered a stunning race as we watch a phenomenal season unfold in front of us.

Jorge Martin will be leaving France with both a medal and a trophy, after claiming a double victory in Le Mans. He has taken a stunning win which showcased both his speed and his intelligence. At the start of the race, he slotted in behind Pecco Bagnaia and stayed close on his tail, letting Bagnaia dictate the pace whilst he calculated and weighed up his options, before making the move on lap 21.

Despite leading for those 21 laps today, Bagnaia ended up settling for 3rd. He was also bested by Marc Marquez on the very final lap of the race, as he recreated yesterday’s amazing result with another 2nd place today – the perfect gift for Gresini’s 1,000th race. However, it was a much trickier race than yesterday’s sprint for Marquez as he fought his way through the grid and found himself involved in numerous battles with the likes of Enea Bastianini, Maverick Vinales and Fabio DiGiannantonio.

Pedro Acosta, the only rookie on the grid this year, has ended his points scoring run with a DNF today. He made an aggressive move when fighting for 3rd place with Aleix Espargaro and DiGiannantonio – three into one at turn 8 was never going to end well!

It was a promising day for home hero Fabio Quartararo – he has been much more on the pace throughout this weekend but sadly crashed out halfway through the race. He and the crowd alike were visibly disappointed but there are plenty of promising signs to take away from today.

Image Credit: MotoGP

AS IT HAPPENED

Compared to yesterday’s sprint race, today’s feature race started under slightly cooler conditions, with the wind picking up. But it could have been worse – We were predicted rain today, but that thankfully didn’t appear.

As the lights went out, Pecco Bagnaia was quick to jump to the front of the grid, having started in 2nd. It was another good start for Marc Marquez, but not quite as impressive as yesterday – today, he gained 5 places in the opening corners, leaping up to 8th.

It was a difficult start for both Marco Bezzecchi and Maverick Vinales. Bezzecchi’s front tire jumped up on the start line and left him vulnerable to the rest of the grid who swallowed him, leaving him in 9th – 4 places down on his starting position. Vinales went deep into turn 1 and was forced to go very wide. He journeyed in to the run off area and rejoined the field in 5th, losing 2 places.

So as the grid finished the first lap, it was Bagnaia leading from Jorge Martin and Aleix Espargaro. Fabio DiGiannantonio was in 4th, with Vinales in 5th. The top ten was rounded out by Pedro Acosta, Enea Bastianini, Marc Marquez, Marco Bezzecchi and home hero Fabio Quartararo respectively.

Bagnaia was eager to try and put some clean air between himself and Martin but the Prima Pramac rider just wouldn’t let the Ducati escape. He was happy to sit in behind the reigning championship and allow him to dictate the peace whilst he calculated the right time to make a move.

On lap 3, we had our first crasher, with Pedro Acosta going down at turn 8. He was fighting with Espargaro and DiGiannantonio for 3rd but Acosta was just too aggressive in to the corner. As he went down, his back wheel was hit by DiGiannantonio who, somehow, impressively kept his bike upright! This is the first race of the season where the rookie has failed to score points.

The following lap, Bezzecchi’s horrible day came to an end as he crashed at turn 6. He was trying to get the cut back on Bastianini, who he was fighting with for 7th place.

A few laps later, Marquez was making moves on Vinales as they fight for 5th. Vinales made his bike as wide as possible as he defends and manages to keep hold of the position. Meanwhile, DiGIannantoni is continuing to fight with Espargaro for 3rd – he is clearly desperate to make a move. He eventually gets past at the La Chapelle corner on lap 8, the following lap.

At this point in the race, the top riders were all battling in pairs, with Bagnaia and Martin fighting for 1st, DiGiannantonio fighting for 3rd as well as Vinales and Marquez battling for 5th. These battles continue until lap 10, and that allows Bastianini, in 7th, to catch up and join the fight. By lap 11, just 2 seconds covered the top 7 riders.

On the same lap, Espargaro goes wide at Garage Vert whilst fighting with Vinales. This sees him gifting 4th place to his Aprilia team mate, only for Marquez to quickly rob him of 5th place as well.

The following lap sees Bastianini making a very late move on Espargaro and pushing him completely off the track. Bastianini is gifted 6th as a result, but he is quickly slapped with a long lap penalty for cutting turn 9 as he recovers from the battle.

At the halfway point of the race, it felt like things were starting to settle down. Martin was still in 2nd but stuck close to the rear tire of Bagnaia in 1st. There was then a 0.9 second gap to DiGiannantonio in 3rd and Vinales in 4th. Marquez was 0.3 seconds behind in 5th, with Bastianini in 6th. Home hero, Fabio Quartararo was having a solid race so far in 7th, just ahead of Espargaro, Miguel Oliveira and Franco Morbidelli in 8th, 9th and 10th respectively.

The calm doesn’t last for long as, on lap 17, it was heartbreak for the French crowd as Quartararo crashes out at turn 9 on lap 17.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Meanwhile, Marquez makes a move on DiGiannantonio for 3rd. DiGiannantonio just refuses to give up the place and gives us a masterclass in brave defending. The continued battle almost gives Vinales the opportunity to take 4th from Marquez. This close battle continues for a few laps and, eventually, Marquez makes a move for 3rd place that sticks. As DiGiannantonio tries to make the cut back, he goes too wide and lets Vinales up to 4th. The Gresini rider is then forced to rejoin in 5th but, unfortunately, the stewards decided that he didn’t lose enough time when rejoining the field and was handed a long lap penalty.

With Marquez now released into some free air, he starts chasing down the leading pair who are 2 seconds down the road. Martin is closer than he has ever been in the race so far and looking like he is ready to set up a move, with just a handful of laps remaining.

At the start of lap 20, Martin makes his first move on Bagnaia but the reigning champion is quick to cut back and regain the place. The following lap is when Martin makes exactly the same move, again at turn 2, but this time makes the move stick and firmly shuts the door on Bagnaia. This fighting means that the gap to Marquez has now been cut in half, and he is just over a second behind them and catching them at a rapid pace.

As the laps continue to tick down, there is nothing between the leading group with Martin now leading from Bagnaia and Marquez.

None of the riders seem comfortable on their soft rear tires but it’s Marquez who seems to be handling these best. He is continuing to close on Bagnaia and on the final lap, with just four corners remaining, he eventually makes his move. With some stunning late breaking, he throws his Gresini up the inside of Bagnaia and manages to make the apex perfectly at turn 7 and 8. This gives Martin some breathing room at the front as Martin sets up defensive moves in the final corners, blocking Bagnaia before he can even think about making a move.

As they cross the line, Martin celebrates a stunning and well-calculated victory with a smash of his bike’s screen. Marquez is equally as thrilled with is performance and celebrates like it was a win.

FULL RESULTS

Image Credit: MotoGP on Twitter

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Martin has been able to extend his championship lead with today’s win – he was leading by 28 points but this has now increased to an impressive 38 points as he continues to enjoy a brilliant start to his season.

Bagnaia returns to 2nd in the standings but now has Marquez hot on his heels, as both riders leapfrog Bastianini.

Image Credit: MotoGP on Twitter

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Garcia Wins for a Second Time in 2024

Sergio Garcia takes a commanding win in Le Mans along with the Moto2 Championship lead ahead of MT Helmets teammate Ai Ogura, completing a one-two for the newest team on the grid. They were joined by Alonso Lopez on the podium to complete the top three. Pole sitter Aron Canet could only manage sixth place.

After starting in third place, Garcia got the best start of the riders on the front row and was leading by the time the pack went into turn one. He started gapping the rest of the field as soon as he got the clear air.

Joe Roberts got through on Canet at La Chappelle to take second place. The chase to catch Garcia was now on.

Lopez snuck past Manuel Gonzales, who also made a good start, to take third place and after falling down the grid Canet set the fastest lap on lap two.

On lap four, both Barry Baltus and David Munoz crashed at turn fourteen and turn six respectively. Both riders were okay following their crashes.

Canet continued to set fast laps and beat the race lap record set by Pedro Acosta on lap five. The Spaniard was catching up to the back of the chasing pack, but may have used up more tyre than he might have intended to.

The gap between Garcia in first and Roberts in second was hovering between 0.8 to 1 second, depending on where on the track the time was taken. Roberts was in a comfortable rhythm behind the Spaniard.

Zonta vd Goorbergh went down at turn eight on lap six causing a yellow flag and Gonzales crashed at the final corner from fifth place.

On the following lap, Canet pulled an impressive move to get past Roberts and Lopez was also able to sneak through past the American too. Lopez ran slightly wide so Roberts could get past him. This battle allowed Garcia to extend his lead over the group by half a second.

A few laps later on lap 10, Lopez pushed Roberts wide and made the move stick for third place.

Fermin Aldeguer had a quiet race up until lap 13 when he and Albert Arenas went side by side for a few corners until the Folladore Speed Up rider made the move stick.

Garcia extended his lead over second place rider to just over two seconds.

Roberts couldn’t capitalise on setting the fastest lap as Ogura passed him three laps later into turn thirteen. The Japanese rider qualified in seventeenth place and was able to carve his way through the field.

Lopez caught up to the back of Canet on lap 20 and got past but on the following lap made a mistake and a group of riders caught up.

On the final lap, Garcia had a 3.2 second lead over Lopez and was almost certain to win the race, providing that he did not make any significant mistakes.

Ogura made his way past Canet for third place and then Roberts was attacking the Spaniard into Garage Vert and was able to make the move stick. Ogura continued his fight up the field by taking second place from Lopez but they were fighting around the middle of the circuit but there was no way through for the Spaniard thanks to Roberts.

Roberts got past Lopez at turn 13 and they touched but Lopez was able to make his way back through.

Sergio Garcia crossed the line with a 3.1s lead over Ai Ogura and Alonso Lopez. Joe Roberts lost the championship lead but finished a respectable fourth ahead of Somkiat Chantra, Aron Canet and Fermin Aldeguer. Tony Arbolino could only manage an eighth place finish ahead of Albert Arenas and Izan Guevara rounded out the top ten.

Feature image credit : Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

2024 Moto2 France – Race Results
Pos Rider Nat Team Time
1 Sergio Garcia SPA MT Helmets – MSI (Boscoscuro) 35m 20.709s
2 Ai Ogura JPN MT Helmets – MSI (Boscoscuro) +3.174s
3 Alonso Lopez SPA Folladore Speed Up (Boscoscuro) +3.704s
4 Joe Roberts USA OnlyFans American Racing Team (Kalex) +3.764s
5 Somkiat Chantra THA IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia (Kalex) +3.935s
6 Aron Canet SPA Fantic Racing (Kalex) +4.511s
7 Fermin Aldeguer SPA Folladore Speed Up (Boscoscuro) +4.811s
8 Tony Arbolino ITA Elf Marc VDS Racing (Kalex) +6.811s
9 Albert Arenas SPA QJMOTOR Gresini (Kalex) +8.831s
10 Izan Guevara SPA CFMoto Inde Aspar Team (Kalex) +14.215s
11 Jeremy Alcoba SPA Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team (Kalex) +17.795s
12 Filip Salac CZE Elf Marc VDS Racing (Kalex) +18.044s
13 Senna Agius AUS Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP (Kalex) +18.191s
14 Darryn Binder RSA Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP (Kalex) +18.349s
15 Marcos Ramirez SPA OnlyFans American Racing Team (Kalex) +19.686s
16 Jaume Masia SPA Pertamina Mandalika GAS UP Team (Kalex) +21.460s
17 Jake Dixon GBR CFMoto Inde Aspar Team (Kalex) +26.939s
18 Deniz Oncu TUR Red Bull KTM Ajo (Kalex) +30.633s
19 Dennis Foggia ITA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) +30.804s
20 Jorge Navarro SPA KLINT Forward Factory Team (Forward) +37.741s
21 Xavi Cardelus AND Fantic Racing (Kalex) +37.994s
22 Ayumu Sasaki JPN Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team (Kalex) +38.968s
23 Daniel Munoz SPA Pertamina Mandalika GAS UP Team (Kalex) DNF
24 Manuel Gonzalez SPA QJMOTOR Gresini (Kalex) DNF
25 Zonta van den Goorbergh NED RW – Idrofoglia Racing GP (Kalex) DNF
26 Diogo Moreira BRA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) DNF
27 Xavier Artigas SPA KLINT Forward Factory Team (Forward) DNF
28 Barry Baltus BEL RW – Idrofoglia Racing GP (Kalex) DNF

 

Moto3: Alonso Tactical Masterclass at Le Mans!

Image Credit: MotoGP

David Alonso (CFMOTO Aspar Team) held his nerve and delivered a tactical masterclass for the Aspar Team to take his 7th Grand Prix victory here in Le Mans!

It was an epic battle from start to finish today in Moto3 and was anyone’s guess as to who would win right up until the finish. Championship leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) just finished in 2nd place to Alonso with Dutchman Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) taking 3rd place. 

As we head to the next race at the Catalunya circuit, Holgado just has a 1 point lead in the championship to Alonso. 

AS IT HAPPENED

Alonso had a great start off the line but Holgado pounced heading into the Dunlop chicane to take the lead on the opening lap of the race. David Munoz (BOE Motorsports) was up 5 places up into 3rd, and ever aggressive blasted by Alonso into 2nd on the opening lap. A dream start for Munoz.

Munoz looked to go by Holgado into turn 1, but Holgado shut the door and held off the Spaniard. Holgado lead every lap of the 2023 race here at Le Mans and was hoping for a repeat over the next 19 laps. Adrian Fernandez (Leopard Racing) into the final 2 right handers went by Alonso and up into 3rd.

Munoz tried a tighter line into turn 1 but again, Holgado shut the door on Munoz. Veijer was now into the mix and got by Alonso on lap 3 up into 3rd, as Fernandez took his long lap penalty. Fernandez was with a lot of pace tat this point and would have been keen to battle his way back through the pack. Fernandez back to 16th after serving the 1st of his 2 long lap penalties.

Fernandez’ Leopard teammate rookie Angel Piqueras set the fastest lap of the race on lap 3 and produced a stunning overtake past Ortola up into 5th. Charging on the Leopard Honda Piqueras then picked off Alonso and up into 5th but Alonso bit back and retook 4th place.

A quarter of the way through and Holgado still had the lead from Munoz on his back wheel in 2nd. The top 8 in Moto3 as they crossed the line were all covered by just a second. 16 laps to go and Fernandez served his 2nd long lap penalty and dropped way back to 21st. His teammate Piqueras however was still dicing and swapping places with Alonso as they started lap 6.

Another lap at the front banked for championship leader Holgado as they started lap 7. Still 8 riders in contention here for victory all dicing and fighting for positions behind Holgado. Riccardo Rossi (CIP Green Power) joined the party at the front up into 5th past Piqueras.

Under 2.5seconds covered the top 18 riders as they completed lap 7 to start lap 8 of 20 of this French Grand Prix. Veijer sat behind Holgado and was planning on how to get by in the 2nd half of the race.

Sector 4 up in yellow flags at turn 11 as Rossi went through on Munoz for Munoz to tap Rossi out of the race. Veijer was also through into the lead for the first time. Munoz went up the inside of Holgado only for Holgado to get back past Munoz as they crossed the line to complete lap 9.

Into the 2nd half of the race and Veijer lead from Holgado 2nd and Munoz in 3rd. Alonso was 4th in a lead group of a dozen riders all battling it out here at Le Mans. Munoz for the contact with Rossi earlier on lap 9 was handed a double long lap penalty. Munoz was shaking his head as he crossed the line clearly angry with the stewards decision. Munoz was still fighting with Veijer and Holgado at the front even though Munoz needed to serve his penalties.

Munoz surrendered the lead to Holgado and dropped back to 17th place after serving the 1st long lap penalty.

9 laps to go and Holgado lead from Veijer 2nd and Alonso in 3rd. Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI) picked his way through the field up into 5th at this stage past Piqueras. Fernandez battled his way back up into 8th place as Veijer took the lead from Holgado after Holgado ran wide.

Into the last 3rd of the race and Dutchman Veijer was leading a group of 4 with Holgado 2nd and Alonso in 3rd. Ortola still not giving up the fight on the back wheel of Alonso in 4th.

Into turn 1 on the fastest part of the circuit, Holgado moved ahead of Veijer with in the slipstream as Veijer tapped Holgado twice as Holgado took the lead.

5 laps to go and Munoz crashed out at turn 11 as Holgado still lead into the final part of the race. The race was shaping up to be decided on the last corner of the last lap. A great race so far in Moto3!

Ortola went up the inside of Alonso into the Dunlop chicane as Ortola moved up into the podium positions. The overtake on Alonso bunched up those behind handing a gap to leaders Holgado and Veijer ahead of them.

Alonso fought back and went up inside of Ortola into 3rd and Alonso geared up for an attack for victory in the final stages of the race. Into lap 18 of 20 and 8 tenths of a second separated the top 8 riders. It was still anyone’s guess as to who would go onto win this one.

Lap 18 and Holgado ran wide and Veijer needed no invitation to swoop into the lead with 3 laps to go. Alonso now into the lead with an epic overtake to get by Holgado and Veijer into the same corner. Holgado dicing with Alonso but Alonso crossed the line in the lead.

THE LAST LAP

Holgado lead across the line to start the final lap. Just 14 corners left to go and Alonso went back into the lead as they went into the Dunlop chicane.

Through turns 6 into 7 and Alonso still hung onto the lead, only a bike length  ahead of Holgado at this point.

Holgado now wheel to wheel with Alonso had to back out of a move to avoid a collision. Holgado would not give this up trying every angle and line to get by Alonso on the final lap.

Alonso though held his nerve into the final 2 right handers, and with everyone breathing down his neck, managed to fend off Holgado to take victory.

Victory number 7 for David Alonso and what a win from the Colombian whizz kid! Alonso’s tactics were incredible today and waited on the perfect moment to go on the attack  and hunt down Holgado for the win.

Race Classification 

Image Credit: MotoGP
Image Credit: MotoGP

Championship Standings

Image Credit: MotoGP
Image Credit: MotoGP

Rally de Portugal 2024 – Day Two Report – Saturday

The second full day of this event would see the crews tackle 145km’s over nine stages. Gregoire Munster would open the road throughout the day.

First up was SS10 Felgueiras 1 – 8.81 km and Kalle was fastest from Ott and Thierry. The Estonian’s pace moved him into third place with Takamoto dropping behind from the podium. In WRC2, Sami found some good pace, winning the stage from Josh and Oliver. The Swede continued to lead the category from Yohan and Gus whilst Josh climbed the leaderboard into fourth place pushing Jan down to fifth in the category.

The was a twist in the tail in the following stage, SS11 Montim 1 – 8.69 km, a tricky stage for some. Elfyn, Thierry and Takamoto all had spins in the stage showing how tricky it was. Seb set the pace from Ott and Adrien, but it was happened after the Frenchman had finished the stage. Coming last on the road before the WRC2 crews, Kalle lost the rear of his Yaris and although he caught it the car hit the side of the road spinning and ending up on its side and with the underside against a tree. Next car through was Oliver and incredibly he also lost control of his car at the next corner, spinning and rolling his Fabia. In the space of just a few minutes both category leaders were out for the rest of the day. Kris Meeke set the pace in the WRC2 category from Sami and Jan.

Next up was the longest stage of the rally, SS12 Amarante 1 – 37.24 km, a really amazing stage with different road surfaces, some tarmac and cobbled road sections between the gravel sections. Ott was fastest from Seb and Dani and the Estonians time took him past Seb and into the lead, but just two tenths of a second separated them. In WRC2 Yohan was quickest from Gus and Sami and the Frenchman continued to lead the category.

Into SS13 Paredes 1 – 16.09 km and there was yet another stage win for Seb, from Adrien and Thierry. The Frenchman moved back into the lead as Ott was only sixth fastest in the stage. In WRC2 Josh was fastest from Jan and Georg and Yohan who had been leading suffered a puncture and fell from the lead to fourth place, now a minute and a quarter from the new category leader Gus with Josh up to second overall and Jan holding third.

Following service, the second run of SS14 Felgueiras 2 – 8.81 km saw Ott set the fastest time from Thierry and Dani. Seb was fourth in the stage and saw his lead trimmed by 3.2 seconds. However, the drama happened in WRC2 with Gus going wide and getting beached on the edge of the road. He was out sadly even though the car was not damaged. They could not get the car to move. Sami was fastest from Yohan and Georg. Meanwhile we had a new leader again in the category as Josh moved into the lead from Jan and Yohan.

Onwards to SS15 Montim 2 – 8.69 km and Ott was fastest from Adrien and Thierry. Seb continued to lead, showing the right level of pace to manage the gap to Ott, especially after what happened to Kalle earlier. It was another stage win in WRC2 for Sami from Yohan and Josh. The Irishman whose co-driver is James Fulton was still leading the category by 9.3 seconds with a charging Yohan now 22.5 back from the leader.

Just three stages remained and first of these was the run of SS16 Amarante 2 – 37.24 km. Ott as usual set the pace before Seb came through and went 4.1 seconds faster and Adrien was third. The Frenchman in his Puma was having an excellent rally. Meanwhile in the Hyundai camp, Dani was actually faster than Thierry and now just 1.5 seconds separated the pair and a possible third position for the Spaniard. In WRC2 Josh saw his lead trimmed to just 1.3 seconds as he saw Jan go a full eight seconds faster. Top three fastest times in the category were set by Sami, Jan and Kris.

The final proper stage of the day then, SS17 Paredes 2 – 16.09 km and the top three times were set by Seb, Thierry and Adrien. There was drama for Kris in WRC2, as he rolled his Hyundai out of the rally. Such a shame for the former winner of this event. There was a change in the lead again in WRC2, as Jan passed Josh. They were both being closed down by a charging Yohan though in his Citroen.

The short run of SS18 SSS Lousada – 3.36 km, the spectator special was taken by Adrien, with Ott and Thierry going second and third. There were no changes in either category for position.

Let’s take a look at the top positions and hear from the drivers.

Classification after Day Two

1 S. Ogier V. Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid 3:01.55.8
2 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +11.9
3 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +1:11.4
4 D. Sordo C. Carrera Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +1:25.6
5 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +1:32.9
6 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +3:23.8
7 N. Gryazin K. Aleksandrov Citroën C3 +9:25.5
8 J. Solans R. Sanjuan Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 +9:35.2
9 J. McErlean J. Fulton Škoda Fabia RS +9:43.2
10 Y. Rossel A. Dunand Citroën C3 +9:46.8

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier

“It’s been a good day for us. It was a tricky one: we didn’t expect so many things to happen this morning, and unfortunately for our team we lost two cars. But I was happy with my consistency and I was able to push in some key moments to make a bit of a difference. This afternoon was very demanding. In the first two stages I lost a bit of ground but I planned to push on Amarante and luckily it worked well for us and we managed to create a bit more of a gap again. Now we have to finish the job tomorrow: the gap is not enough for us to relax. There are still a lot of kilometres and some new sections.”

Elfyn Evans

“Today was always going to be difficult with our road position. It was tricky to make up any places on pace alone, so we were mainly trying to learn and find a better feeling with the car, playing with a few things in the setup and trying to put something better together for tomorrow. Some things were improved, some things not so much and we were still struggling with the balance. Our road position should at least be a bit better tomorrow so there’s an opportunity there and we need to try our best.”

Kalle Rovanperä

“This morning started well. We definitely had a better feeling today with the car setup and could do a good time in the first stage. But then in the second one I just missed my braking point in a fairly straightforward place, and we went off. There was a bit of confusion with the pacenote in the previous corner and I was maybe still thinking about that and missed the braking, point. But it was my mistake in the end and it’s a big disappointment – especially when we started strongly, and I think it could have been a good day for us. Now we’ll try to do our best for the team tomorrow.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“Today’s stages were a bit more sandy like we expected. Still, the car was working well, and it was very nice to drive. I tried to manage the pace in the first two stages but was not really in a good rhythm. Then in the third stage I pushed from the beginning, I felt very good and like everything was under control. But in one place I slightly lost the line and went a bit wide and hit the bank on the outside. Right now, it’s very disappointing because I had the pace, it was looking good, and I still had room to push more. It’s hard to accept but this is rallying, so I just need to understand what I did wrong and then move on. We still have tomorrow, and we will keep pushing.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak

“Altogether it was a solid day. The car in the afternoon was working quite well for us, not too bad in the ruts, but the long stage didn’t quite work out and it was difficult to go smoothly so we couldn’t build as good of a run as we wanted. Aside from that, it was quite a good day. Tomorrow’s new stage will make our job a bit trickier; because it’s narrow and slow, the characteristics are very unusual for Portugal. It’s a different game tomorrow but it’s still going to be super tight. We need to gain as many points as possible, so let’s see how the conditions and road position help us as well.”

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

Thierry Neuville

“We are happy being in third place overnight – if someone had told us we would be here yesterday we wouldn’t have believed them. Today was both challenging and long, and not necessarily the best day for us, but nonetheless we are happy to be taking this many points home. Tomorrow we need to be to be on top of our game; we will push over all four stages and see what happens. We have the advantage of a good road position and there are still good points on offer, but we know the competition is still strong so we will work hard to make the most of it.”

Dani Sordo

“It was up and down today; in some stages I was feeling confident, in others less so. The first few stages in the morning were great for me, so it was a clear opportunity to take home some good points. At the end of the day, we are in fourth place, and I want to say a big thanks to the team for helping us get there. Making sure I could help get them as many points as possible was an important part of my Saturday. I will get back together with the team to work out tomorrow’s plans, we want to maximise our takings from the new points system but overall, I am feeling confident for a good final day.”

 

WRC2

Oliver Solberg

“We had a very good feeling in the car on the opening stage of the day, setting a third fastest time after the team did a fantastic job resolving the issues from yesterday.

“During SS11, we came across Kalle [Rovanperä] and Jonne [Halttunen] off the road and I became distracted, missing the next note. We ran off [the] line and clipped the bank on the outside of the next corner, where we rolled the car.

 

“Elliott and I are completely fine, but due to the condition of the car we have decided that we will not continue tomorrow (Sunday).”

 

Summary

One final day beckons for the crews and with 62km’s over just four stages, will there be one final twist in the rally?

MotoGP: Martin Cruises to Sprint Race Victory in Le Mans

Jorge Martin has further extended his championship lead thanks to a Sprint Race victory at the French GP. He enjoyed a fairly easy race, with no real competition, as he cruised to the chequered flag. After being fastest in Friday practice, taking pole position and now this win, it’s been a perfect weekend so far for the Spaniard.

His main competition was Marco Bezzecchi who spent most of the race in 2nd place. At lap 6, he looked to be closing in on the leader but, after facing huge pressure from Marc Marquez, he went down at turn 9 on lap 10. It’s a disappointing result for the VR46 rider who looked to be much more on the pace this weekend and is finally showing us his true colours after a tough start to the season.

Instead, it was Marc Marquez who came home in 2nd place. It was an amazing result for Marquez, after a mistake in qualifying meant he didn’t make it through to Q2. He was forced to start from 13th on the grid but, in a matter of corners, he had thrown his Gresini bike up to 6th. By lap 2, he was in 4th and was soon gifted two more places after Aleix Espargaro faced a double long lap penalty for a jump start and Bezzecchi crashed out. Marquez was understandably thrilled with this result and was thumping his first to his chest as he crossed the line.

The final podium spot was claimed by Maverick Vinales who has looked to be on good form this weekend. However, speaking after the race, he told media that his race was more focused on defending, rather than attacking. There will be work for him tomorrow if he wants to recreate this result in the main race.

It was a day to forget for reigning champion, Pecco Bagnaia. He crashed in this morning’s qualifying session and then had to retire from the race with an undisclosed technical issue. As the race started, Bagnaia was quickly swallowed up by the grid and dropped from 2nd to 15th in only a few corners. He then had a moment on lap 3, heading off the track and into the run-off area at Museum Corner, which dropped him to last place before retiring a lap later.

Not only was it a bad race result, but it also drops him down to 3rd in the championship. He is leap-frogged by Enea Bastianini who came home in 4th place today. It was a much-needed positive day today for the Ducati rider, with so many ongoing discussions about who will partner with Bagnaia at that team next year.

Pedro Acosta continues his scoring record – he is the only rider on the grid to score points in every race and sprint race so far this season. He came home in 6th place but was very lucky to meet the chequered flag – he had a huge moment at turn 13 of the penultimate lap and did incredibly well to keep the bike upright.

Tomorrow’s race will be double the length with double the points on offer. Can Pecco Bagnaia make amends and get his title fight back on track? Or will Jorge Martin round out a truly perfect weekend?

Full Results:

Image Credit: MotoGP on X

Championship Standings:

Image Credit: MotoGP on X

Feature Image Credit: Jorge Martin on X

Moto3: Alonso Takes Pole In Le Mans!

Image Credit: MotoGP

3rd pole position in a row for the Colombian sensation David Alonso (CFMOTO Aspar Team)! Championship leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) qualified in 2nd and after qualifying said he was ready to fight for victory tomorrow. Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) rounded off the front row after a great qualifying session in 3rd.

20 laps on Sunday around this circuit and the top 2 in the championship are up for the fight. The Moto 3 heavyweights can’t wait to fight it out for victory tomorrow. 

Image Credit: @AsparTeam on X
Image Credit: @AsparTeam on X

AS IT HAPPENED

Qualifying 1

The session got underway in glorious sunshine at Le Mans, and as the first set of times were posted, it was Luca Lunetta (SIC58 Squadra Corse) leading the way from Filippo Farioli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) 2nd, David Almansa (Rivacold Snipers Team) 3rd and Jacob Roulstone (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) in 4th.

Nicola Carraro (MTA Team) shot to the top with 8mins left of the session. With the top 4 order ever changing in the Q1 session, it was shaping up for a last minute fight to get through to Q2.

Carraro went down in the Dunlop chicane and yellow flags a plenty in sector 1 as Carraro was in a hurry to get back up and running on his bike.

As everyone headed into the pits to catch their breath before their final runs, it was still Carraro at the top with Lunetta 2nd, Roulstone 3rd and Farioli sat in 4th.

Under 5mins left of the session and British rider Scott Ogden (MLav Racing) blasted his way to the top of the timings as Tatsuki Suzuki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) and Ogden pushed on as the rest of the field filtered back out of the pits. Only 2 tenths of a second separated the top 6 riders at this point.

Last chance for the riders as the chequered flag waved and Lunetta managed to sneak into 2nd as Suzuki also managed to knock out Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) at the end of the session. The top 4 heading through to Q2 were Roulstone, Lunetta, Ogden and Suzuki.

Qualifying 2

Roulstone fresh from Q1 lead the way early on at the top of the timings on provisional pole. As the rest of the field completed their first runs, it was Jose Antonio Rueda at the top with Alonso a tenth behind in 2nd and Adrian Fernandez (Leopard Racing) on the front row in 3rd.

Just under 8mins left of the session and Alonso took command and into provisional pole with Rueda 2nd and Ivan Ortola (MT Helmets – MSI) up to 3rd. It was heating up to be a fantastic battle for pole position here at Le Mans.

Race winner last time out in Jerez, Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) went up to provisional pole as the rest of the riders were sat in the pits. Alonso just +0.001 behind Veijer with just over 4mins left of the session.

Every rider was now pushing to the limits as several riders all lit up sectors red with just 2mins left of the session. Championship leader Holgado marched up to provisional pole just ahead of Rueda 2nd and Alonso in 3rd at this stage. Just one more final flying lap attempt remained.

Colombia vs Spain and the top 2 in the championship, Alonso and Holgado were neck and neck in the final seconds of the session. Alonso snatched pole position away from Holgado with a stunning 1:40.114. Holgado just +0.011 seconds behind Alonso in 2nd. Alonso on pole, Holgado 2nd and Rueda rounding off the front row in 3rd for tomorrow’s race.

Holgado lead every lap last season at the French Grand Prix and will be hoping for the same tomorrow. 3 pole positions in a row for David Alonso! Can Alonso convert the pole position into a win tomorrow?

Top 10

Image Credit: MotoGP
Image Credit: MotoGP

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.”

 

WRC2

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?

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…”

Summary

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.

Enjoy!

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