WRC Rally Portugal 2022 is round four of the FIA World Rally Championship. Stones, rocks, pebbles, dirt, and high temperatures, including the nervous pressure, were the main characters of our Portuguese adventure. It is the first dusty test for new hybrid cars, which not every driver had passed. Day by day, from Thursday to Sunday, it seemed so easy to get into the trap of tricky roads. Hence, every mistake became a source of intrigue.
Ahead of the Rally de Portugal, eight-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier suggested if Kalle Rovanperä maintains his pace, he will be unstoppable. He’d never been so right, as Finn took the lead and finished WRC Rally Portugal 2022 with a triumph!
The Finn trailed long-time leader, his teammate Elfyn Evans for the first two days at Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Kalle Rovanperä relegated the Welshman on Saturday evening. He extended a slender advantage on the short last leg to win by 15.2sec!
#1 Sebastien Loeb retired on SS5.
Nobody believed that such things would be possible with experienced drivers, such as Sebastien Loeb. Rally fans had predicted that Rally Portugal 2022 would feature a duel between two Sebastiens: Ogier and Loeb.
He leapt from seventh to first on Arganil’s famous roads from the very first SS. The tricky dust created visibility problems, as it delved inside the car, leaking into the cockpit of his purple Puma. Sebastien Loeb had not even completed the SS6’ asphalt section before his car slewed wide on a fast left corner after 100 metres and smashed into a wall! The impact ripped the right rear wheel from the car, and the Frenchman crawled to a halt.
#2 Sebastien Ogier and sudden punctures of WRC Rally Portugal 2022.
Sebastien Ogier was 1.0sec back in sixth, but the dust was more cunning than rally champion. On Friday it came clear he could not drive faster. Two punctures made the deal, and the Frenchman was roadside with no more spare wheels onboard.
#3 Ott Tanak and the drama on SS6.
Same tricky SS6 – the same problem. No one said it would be easy! Dusty conditions made drivers burn themselves out. Hyundai Motorsport driver Ott Tanak was that one on whom we had big hopes. However, the WRC Rally Portugal 2022 was the real endurance test and nerve test. Estonian rally driver break downed the wheel.
#4 Thierry Neuville damaged on SS8.
Thierry Neuville was successful in Portugal in 2019. We predicted he would repeat the story. Belgian rally driver started Vodafone Rally de Portugal by winning a spectacular opening speed test in the streets of Coimbra on Thursday. That was 0.6sec faster than Hyundai i20 N teammate Ott Tänak. But the tricky pebbles with the cunning dusty caught him already on SS8.
#5 Gus Greensmith and the full package of problems on WRC Rally Portugal 2022.
Before the start rally stage in Portugal, the M-Sport Ford rally driver was very positive. After the retirement of another Puma by Sebastien Loeb, Gus got the many tasks. However, that was the same problem for all the rally drivers. The dust was still filling the cockpit during the rush. Twice, Gus Greensmith had a tyre come off the rim. The Briton persevered to hold fifth, a minute of the lead, but problems with visibility were always making the difficult to drive at the full throlle.
#6 Craig Breen in Portugal
Nothing could stop M-Sport Ford rally driver from the podium in Portugal. Nothing, excluding a puncture and a brush with a bank. Brake problems cost Craig Breen sixth. The Irishman conceded two places on the final day in his Ford Puma, allowing Ott Tanak into sixth in an i20.
Kalle Rowanpera made a breakthrough on the crucial SS15. Since that moment we understood, the key battle for victory will be between two Toyota Gazoo racing teammates: Kalle Rowanpera and Elfyn Evans. Finn won the Rally Sweden, outclassing the most experienced rally drivers in Croatia. He makes an incredible hat-treak on dusty Portugal. Bravest Hyundai Motorsport driver Dani Sordo held second place. Takamoto Katsuta took third.
Finn won the Rally Sweden, outclassing the most experienced rally drivers in Croatia. He makes an incredible hat-treak on dusty Portugal. Kalle Rovanperä holds a 46-point championship advantage after four of the 13 rounds. We are joining in to congratulate Finn on, well done!
Photos by wrc.com