WRC - Rovanperä overhauls teammate Evans to claim Rally Portugal lead | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - Rovanperä overhauls teammate Evans to claim Rally Portugal lead

21.05.22

2022 Rally Portugal - Saturday afternoon

2022 Rally Portugal - Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Haltunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing (photo Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool)

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT’s Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen delivered a polished afternoon performance to overhaul their team-mates, Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin, and take a 5.7-second lead into the final night halt at the 55th Vodafone Rally of Portugal on Saturday.
 
The two Toyota GR Yaris drivers were class of the field for much of a drama-filled day, where wrong tyre choice, punctures and sporadic rain showers threatened to derail several drivers’ challenges.
 
Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta and Irish co-driver Aaron Johnston managed to overhaul Hyundai’s Dani Sordo and Candido Carrera to snatch third and give Toyota a 1-2-3 with five short and tricky gravel stages remaining on Sunday.
 
“A problem free day and we can be happy,” said Rovanperä modestly.
 
For sure, we could have done a bit more in places,” admitted Evans. “That’s how it is. Kalle has driven really well. We have to keep the pressure on and see what is possible.”
 
Katsuta added: “We did a pretty okay job today. We were under the pressure. Dani is an experienced driver and very fast. We were able to manage the car and the tyres.”
 
Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe benefitted from an excellent tyre choice on the second pass through the long Amarante stage in inclement weather conditions and stormed into contention for fourth place. The Belgian duo now trail team-mate Sordo by 30.1 seconds, however, after the Spaniard’s stunning time in the last stage of the day in Porto.
 
Punctures and dust issues hampered Craig Breen and Paul Nagle in the leading M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1, but the Irishman managed to overhaul Pierre-Louis Loubet and Vincent Landais to hold sixth on the last of the gravel stages, their cause helped when the windscreen wipers failed on the Frenchman’s Puma.
 
Estonia’s Ott Tänak is still looking for his first stage win of the weekend and the premature demise of both Sëbastien Ogier and Sëbastien Loeb meant that the 2019 World Champion and co-driver Martin Järveoja were carrying out road-cleaning duties for much of the day. The i20 N Rally1 driver holds eighth.
 
Adrien Fourmaux and Alexandre Coria rounded off the Rally1 standings in ninth in the third of the surviving Fords. A puncture and resultant suspension damage side lined Gus Greensmith after SS13. Loeb had fallen by the wayside during the morning when his Puma lost power and an attempt to reset the system failed and he later retired.
 
Ogier’s return to the WRC for the first time since the Monte-Carlo Rally didn’t go according to plan and the eight-time World Champion spun his Yaris, which came to rest with the rear hanging off the track. He continued with massive time losses before retiring soon afterwards.
 
Tenth-placed Teemu Suninen (Hyundai Motorsport N) was coming under pressure from PH Sport’s Yohan Rossel in the FIA WRC2 category until a fresh set of tyres enabled the Finn to pull away again. He reached the night halt with a 30.5-second cushion over the Citroën C3 driver. Pole Kajetan Kajetanowicz held third in a Škoda Fabian Evo.
 
Fréderic Rosati (Hyundai) had built up a comfortable cushion over Laurent Battut (Hyundai) and Jean-Michel Raoux (Volkswagen) in the new FIA WRC2 Masters section heading to the last super special stage of the day. 
 
Finland’s Sami Pajari was able to extend his lead over fellow countryman Lauri Joona in the FIA WRC3 Junior category heading to the Porto street stage. Estonia’s Robert Virves lost a chunk of time in Amarante but maintained third from Great Britain’s Jon Armstrong.

The provisional results at the end of Saturday can be consulted here.