Kalle Rovanpera eyes third consecutive victory in Portugal amid weather concerns

Kalle Rovanpera eyes third consecutive victory in Portugal amid weather concerns

Festus Chuma 12:00 - 08.05.2024

Kalle Rovanpera is aiming for a third straight win at Rally Portugal, but unpredictable weather could impact his chances.

Kalle Rovanpera is on the brink of securing his third consecutive win at Rally Portugal set to take place from May 9-12 but he remains cautious about the potential impact of the weather on the race. 

The young Finnish driver, who pilots the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, has previously triumphed at this event in 2022 and 2023 marking him as the youngest-ever winner of Rally Portugal.

Rovanpera's performance last year was particularly stellar winning nine of the 21 special stages and securing his fifth career victory in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

 However, he has expressed concerns that this year's weather conditions could significantly influence the outcome of the race.

“I’m really looking forward to Portugal. It’s a rally that I really like. There’s a lot of fans and a great atmosphere, and the stages have very nice characteristics. They seem to suit me quite well: we’ve had some really nice success there in the last two years," Rovanpera shared. 

"Of course, our aim will be to try and win again this year, but it’s never easy. All of the top drivers know the stages quite well, so the pace is usually pretty high and it can be quite a close fight there. Maybe our road position could help us, but we will have to see what the weather does, because rain can really change things quite a bit," he added.

The Toyota team is also buoyed by the presence of Sébastien Ogier, the winner of the last round in Croatia. 

Alongside Rovanpea and Ogier, Elfyn Evans, who claimed victory in Portugal in 2021, completes a formidable lineup.

 Evans is currently just six points behind the championship leader, following three podium finishes in the first four events of the season.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team (TGR-WRT) has been dominant in Portugal clinching victories in the last four consecutive years.

Takamoto Katsuta another team member has also shown strong performances in past Portugal events and will be aiming to make a significant impact.

Portugal marks the start of a grueling sequence of seven consecutive gravel rallies. 

The event is centrally located in the northern region of Portugal, around the vibrant city of Porto, with the service park situated in nearby Matosinhos. 

The rally features fast but technical stages, with a terrain that starts off soft and sandy but typically becomes rocky and rutted during the second pass.

The route for this year's rally remains largely unchanged, beginning south of Porto near the historic city of Coimbra.

 The action kicks off on Thursday night with the Figueira da Foz super special stage which was held on a Friday in the previous year. 

The following day will see additional stage kilometers with the Mortágua test which is scheduled at both the start and end of Friday. 

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