Vodafone Rally De Portugal Preview: WRC1
The 2023 World Rally Championship season continues this weekend with round five, Vodafone Rally De Portugal. Below I will preview the Rally1 class drivers.
Drivers Championship Rundown
Eight-time world rally champion Sebastien Ogier sits tied with Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Elfyn Evans for the Drivers’ Championship lead heading into Vodafone Rally De Portugal. Evans and Ogier’s teammate and reigning World Rally Champion Kalle Rovanperä sits third, just 1 point back. Ott Tänak who finished second in the championship last season currently sits fourth, 3 points behind Rovanperä. Thierry Neuville sits fifth in the championship, 7 points back from his former Hyundai teammate Ott Tänak. The championship standings could go any which way at the Vodafone Rally De Portugal. Sebastien Ogier will definitely fall from first this weekend as he will not be at the event. Nonetheless, it is still expected to be a tight battle as every point is critical for a driver’s championship hopes. As just 11 points separate first and fifth in the championship right now.
Drivers’ Championship Standings
- T1. S. Ogier, 69
- T1. E. Evans, 69
- 3. K. Rovanperä, 68
- 4. O. Tänak, 65
- 5. T. Neuville, 58
- 6. E. Lappi, 31
- 7. C. Breen, 19
- 8. T. Katsuta, 18
- 9. D. Sordo, 17
- 10. P-L. Loubet, 14
Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally team is currently on top of the world as far as the WRC goes heading into Vodafone Rally De Portugal. As the team currently leads the Manufacturers’ championship and holds the top three spots of the drivers’ championship standings. Things couldn’t get much better for Toyota. This doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy event for them, however. As previously mentioned every point matters right now, so there is no room to lay off. Even when you’re sitting at the top. Toyota’s drivers will have to go all out this weekend at Vodafone Rally De Portugal if they want to hold onto the top manufacturer’s championship spot and the top three drivers’ championship spots.
The usual Toyota crew will be at the event, with Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta being at the event. Part-timer Sebastien Ogier will not be at Vodafone Rally De Portugal. This likely won’t squander Ogier’s odds for a top-five or even three finish this season. As Ogier is driving like you’d expect an eight-time World Rally Champion to drive.
Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
The Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally team has had a better start to their season than they did last season. Although the team currently doesn’t have a driver in a top three spot in the Drivers’ Championship standings. They still haven’t had a bad start to their season. Hyundai currently sits second in the Manufacturers Championship standings, 29 points behind Toyota. The Hyundai usuals in Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi will be at Vodafone Rally De Portugal. Neuville and Lappi will be joined by Dani Sordo in the third Hyundai i20.
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
The M-Sport Ford World Rally team has had a rather chaotic start to their season. Ott Tänak has been performing nearly as expected. Pierre-Louis Loubet hasn’t been to the level expected yet. Nonetheless, the team still sits in a good spot in the Manufacturers Championship standings, as M-Sport Ford currently sits 24 points back from Hyundai. Both Ott Tänak and Pierre-Louis Loubet will be at Vodafone Rally De Portugal representing M-Sport Ford.
Throwback To Croatia Rally
Day One Recap
Second Day Recap
Day Three Recap