TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Kalle Rovanperä is back on top of the FIA World Rally Championship after a dominant drive to win the Rally de Portugal for the second year in succession.
The victory is the first of the season for reigning world champions Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen, and moves them to the head of the standings by 17 points after they also won the rally-ending Fafe Power Stage – repeating the maximum score they achieved on the same event one year ago. It is also the fourth time in a row that TGR-WRT has won in Portugal, and the team’s fourth victory from five rounds in 2023.
Rovanperä built his result on a strong performance on Friday’s opening day while running second in the road order on the loose gravel stages. He led by 10.8 seconds at the end of the day, and stunning speed on Saturday morning then allowed him to move over 50s clear.
On Sunday he recorded his ninth stage win of the weekend in the first pass over the famous fan-favourite Fafe test, before making it 10 when he returned there for the Power Stage – setting the quickest time by 0.717s while sealing the rally victory by 54.7s.
Takamoto Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston set the fourth-fastest time in the Power Stage to bank additional points for the manufacturers’ championship, which the team continues to lead by 32 points. Katsuta had to stop on Friday morning with a technical issue but could restart on Saturday and took a stage win of his own in Sunday’s first stage.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“We are feeling really happy with this victory here in Portugal. On Friday things were looking quite difficult for us because we lost two cars and only had one left in the fight. But Kalle was driving superbly and in the end it was a dominant victory with a great Power Stage win as well. Even if he hasn’t been winning recently, Kalle’s performances have still been at a high level; there were just some little things missing from the puzzle which he has found here, with confidence in the car and the motivation and hunger to win. When these things came together this weekend, he was unstoppable. I also want to thank Takamoto for getting to the finish after the issue on Friday which meant we couldn’t see his whole potential on this event. Today on the final day he showed what could have been with a great effort in the Power Stage which gives us some extra points for the manufacturers’ championship as well.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY DE PORTUGAL
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 3h35m11.7s
2 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +54.7s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m20.3s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +2m04.1s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +8m22.5s
6 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +9m43.4s
7 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +9m44.6s
8 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +10m26.4s
9 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +11m33.2s
10 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 Rally2) +12m16.3s
33 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1h01m54.8s
Retired Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID)
(Results as of 14:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Rally Italia Sardegna (June 1-4) features fast but narrow stages, where exposed rocks as well as trees at the side of the road can catch out the unwary. High temperatures combined with the abrasive surface places high stresses on the cars and tyres.
Press release TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT