Rally de Portugal 2023 Highlights
Finnish driver Kalle Rovanperä, racing for Toyota Yaris, secured his second consecutive victory at the WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal, catapulting himself to the top of the World Championship standings. The reigning world champion clinched his first win of the season by completing the fifth round with a time of 3 hours, 35 minutes, and 11.7 seconds. He finished 54.7 seconds ahead of the Spanish driver Dani Sordo, from Hyundai, who took second place, with teammate Esapekka Lappi securing third place, 1 minute and 20.3 seconds behind.
Rovanperä Reigns Again
After Portugal, Rovanperä now leads the championship with 98 points, a comfortable 17-point advantage over Estonian driver Ott Tänak, from Ford, who settled for fourth place in this rally. Rovanperä conquered all 19 stages of the 56th edition of the Portuguese event, including the final stage in Fafe, where he set a new record time. This outstanding performance granted him the maximum points haul of 30, propelling him to the top of the championship for the first time this year.
Turbo Troubles Hit Neuville and Hyundai
The battle for second place among the WRC cars stirred considerable interest, as Hyundai held the following three positions. Expectations were high for team orders to assist Belgian driver Thierry Neuville in jumping from fourth to second place. Unfortunately, Neuville encountered a turbo problem early in the morning’s first stage in Paredes, robbing him of engine power and any chance of a podium finish. Despite the setback, Neuville navigated through the remaining stages to secure at least a fifth-place finish and valuable points for the championship.
From Fafe to Glory
Rovanperä’s dominance throughout the rally culminated in a well-deserved victory and a record-breaking “power stage” win in Fafe. With these results, Rovanperä not only leads the drivers’ championship but also propels the Toyota team to the top of the constructors’ championship. The next round will be the WRC Rally Italia Sardegna, scheduled from June 1st to 4th, where Rovanperä aims to maintain his position at the summit and continue his winning streak.