Elfyn Evans secured his fourth WRC career victory on Rallye de Portugal with a composed and controlled drive in his Toyota Yaris WRC. The Welshman made sure that second placed Dani Sordo couldn’t nibble any further into his lead taking ten seconds out of the Spaniard to double his overnight lead.
Admitting he wasn’t necessary the quickest driver across the weekend, Evans’ kept out of trouble to secure the 25 points handed out for victory. Easing off on the Wolf Power Stage, fifth best time on the stage would earn a single bonus point. Sordo once again proved his excellent worth as a third driver in his Hyundai i20 WRC, having not drive the car for over four months he took second place as his team mates retired on days one and two.
The next event in Sardinia has been a happy hunting ground for Sordo, winning the previous two years. With advantageous road positioning again, a hattrick of wins may not be out of the question. Sebastien Ogier finished a difficult event in third, something he described as a great result given his task of road sweeping on day one. A further three bonus points on the Power Stage meant the Frenchman would hold on to the championship lead in his Yaris.
Takamoto Katsuta secured his best ever WRC finish in fourth, having shown great pace throughout the weekend and keeping his team mate Ogier honest through Saturday. Ogier was able to break clear of Katsuta on Sunday, but the youngster will be more than happy with his weekends work.
Rounding out the WRC cars in the top ten leaderboard were the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC’s of Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux. Greensmith was able to pass his team mate on the morning’s stages and stayed ahead by just 10.7 seconds by the end of the rally. Fourmaux, on his first event in a WRC on gravel impressed again bring the car home and learning a lot, including a stint as opening the road on Saturday.
Hyundai Motorsport duo Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville ended their events with some bonus points after their respective retirements plunged them down the leaderboard. Competing under Rally2 regulations, the pair were first and second quickest through the power stage claiming the five and four bonus points respectively for themselves and the team.
Tanak took extreme lengths to secure the power stage bonus points after losing the lead on Saturday evening, taking no spare tyres to save weight, even changing from a full face to open face helmet as it saved 500g of weight.
Kalle Rovenpera also returned under Rally2 rules and scored two bonus points on the power stage with fourth fastest time. The rest of the top ten was completed by the front runners in the WRC2 support series, with Esapekki Lappi, Teemu Suninen, Mads Ostberg and Nikolay Gryazin taking seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth overall and earning WRC drivers points.
Power Stage Bonus Points:
Ott Tanak (5), Thierry Neuville (4), Sebastien Ogier (3), Kalle Rovenpera (2) & Elfyn Evans (1).
Top 3 Overall:
- Elfyn Evans – Toyota Yaris WRC
- Dani Sordo – Hyundai i20 WRC +28.3
- Sebastien Ogier – Toyota Yaris WRC + 1:23.6
FIA World Rally Championship 2
Esapekki Lappi secured his second WRC2 win in as many entries with a perfect 30 point reward from his weekend driving a VW Polo GTi R5. The Finn was able to pull away from second placed Teemu Suninen and ended up with a substantial 1 minute and 42 second lead. Winning the event and the Wolf Power Stage secured him the full points on offer, but as he enters events on a rally by rally basis wasn’t sure when his next rally would be.
With Sardinia just ten days away and the following round the unknown of Kenya, we may not see the Finn again until Estonia. Suninen lost time late on Saturday with a puncture and a spin in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 on heaped more time loss onto him. He was able to secure another second place following the same result last time out in Croatia and will return to the main WRC championship in Sardinia.
Despite a difficult first day where he lost over a minute with a puncture, Mads Ostberg dug deep to keep himself in touching distance and was rewarded with a podium finish by the end. He stated there was lots to be done before the next round in Sardinia, but a win and a third in his first two events back defending his title are not to be sniffed at.
Nikolay Gryazin finished fourth having suffered turbo issues on Saturday morning which dropped him down the leaderboard. Oliver Solberg rounded out the top five after a spin and subsequent stall cost the him a possible podium finish on his WRC2 debut.
Power Stage Bonus Points:
Esapekki Lappi (5), Marco Bulacia (4), Eric Camilli (3), Mads Ostberg (2) & Teemu Suninen (1).
WRC2 Top 3:
- Esapekki Lappi – VW Polo GTi R5
- TeemuSuninen – Ford Fiesta Rally2 +1:42.8
- Mads Ostberg – Citroen C3 Rally2 +2:24.3
FIA World Rally Championship 3
After an event long battle with fellow WRC3 driver Yohan Rossel, it was Kajetan Kajetanowicz who would be victorious, taking his second WRC3 victory in two events in his Skoda Fabia evo Rally2. Rossel had led by a narrow margin at the end of days one and two, but Kajetanowicz eventually got past the Frenchman on SS17 and this time would not hand the lead back. Second place was the reward for Rossel who will be happy with the points after rolling out of the lead in Croatia.
In third was Brit Chris Ingram, in only his second rally since an eighteen-month break after becoming ERC champion in 2019. The Skoda Fabia driver lost time on Friday due to the misfortune of others and being held up in their dust. Notional times were given which put Igram back on the podium and into a position he would not give up, scoring a WRC3 fastest stage time on the opening test of the day.
Frenchman Nicolas Ciamin was fourth in a Citroen C3 Rally2 while Irishman Josh Mcerlean took fifth in a Hyundai i20 R5.
WRC3 Top 3:
- Kajetan Kajetanowicz – Skoda Fabia evo Rally 2
- Yohan Rossel – Citroen C3 Rally2 +5.6
- Chris Ingram – Skoda Fabia evo Rally2 + 55.3
FIA Junior World Rally Championship
Martin Sesks secured a comfortable JWRC victory, keeping his nose clean as all others around him hit trouble. Winning by over three minutes meant Sesks could back off on the final day, his closest rival was Sami Pajari who was leading before a puncture on day two cost him over three minutes but nly one position.
Such was the toughness of the event on the championships Ford Fiesta Rally4 cars third place went to Robert Virves who was 11 minutes off the lead. Martin Koci took fourth, 38 minutes down with William Creighton in fifth and Lauri Joona rounding out the top six of the drivers left.
A combination of full retirements and Rally2 stage penalties providing a leaderboard with some large time gaps. Jon Armstrong had to retire at the end of day two as turbo issues turned out to be a bigger engine issue.
JWRC Top 3:
- Martins Sesks – Ford Fiesta Rally4
- Sami Pajari – Ford Fiests Rally4 +3:11.8
- Chris Ingram – Ford Fiesta Rally4 +11:48.1