Rovanperä, who is three behind compatriot Markku Alen, took 3:44.19.2 hours to complete the 21 stages of this fourth round of the World Cup, leaving British driver Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris), second, with Spaniard Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20) is third in 2.17.3 minutes, after beating Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota Yaris) on the power stage.
With these results, Rovanperä, who has already won three of the four races contested this season (he was only beaten by Frenchman Sébastien Loeb, in a Ford Puma, at the Monte-Carlo Rally), increased his lead in the championship. , now with 106 points, 46 more than the second, the Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20).
Rovenperä upholds tradition since moving north
The young driver’s victory in the 55th edition of the Rally of Portugal confirmed the trend since the return of the race in the north of the country to the no driver ‘bisar’.
Rovanperä, who started this third and final day of the fourth stage of the World Rally Championship 5.7 seconds ahead of Briton Elfyn Evans, his teammate at Toyota, with another Yaris, and winner of the race in 2021, won three of today’s five stages, including the “power stage” in the second run through Fafe, adding the maximum score for the championship.
The Finn finished the Portuguese course with a time of 3:44.19.2 hours after the 21 stages contested, leaving the second, Evans, at 15.2 seconds, with the Spaniard Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20) in third, at 2 .17, 3 minutes, after beating the Japanese Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota Yaris) in the last “power stage”.
“Starting the race to open the road and keep fighting for the win was good. The car was perfect, everyone can be happy,” said the Finnish driver, after crossing the finish line at Fafe.
Son of a former rally driver, Harri Rovanperä, Kalle thus became the youngest driver to win the Rally of Portugal, at 21 (he dethroned his compatriot Markku Allen, winner in 1975 of the Portuguese at 24, at the wheel of a Lancia).
And it also confirmed the trend that has taken place since the race returned to the north of the country in 2016, in which no runner can repeat a victory.
That year, it was the Irishman Kris Meeke (Citroën C3) who won. The following year, it was Frenchman Sébastien Ogier (Ford Focus), who had already won in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014, adding the only victory in this version of the race (the previous ones took place in the Algarve) .
Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) won in 2018, followed by Estonian Ott Tanäk (Toyota Yaris), the year he was world champion.
In 2020 there was no rally due to limitations caused by the covid-19 pandemic, with Briton Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris) winning in 2021.
Thus, it was the third consecutive triumph for Toyota, which already has seven in the history of Portuguese racing.
Rovanperä had as his best result in Portugal a sixth place obtained in 2019, with a Skoda Fábia WRC2, because, in 2021, already with the Toyota Yaris of the main category, he had problems in the first stage, returning on Saturday in a ‘superrally system’. , finishing only in 22nd position.
It is the fifth triumph of the young Finn’s career, the third in a row this year, in which he was beaten only by Frenchman Sébastien Loeb (Ford Puma) in the opening round of the championship, the Monte-Carlo Rally, equaling this weekend’s opponent. , Elfyn Evans.
The last time a driver won three championships in a row was in 2016, with Sébastien Ogier triumphing in Corsica, Catalonia and Wales. A feat that has only happened 13 times in the history of the championship.
Rovanperä dominated the Portuguese race, although he started on the first day to open the track, a theoretically unfavorable position on dirt floors, as it involves less traction.
Still, he won eight of 21 stages, while Evans was fastest in six.
Neuville (two), Estonian Ott Tanäk (two), on a Hyundai i20, Frenchmen Sébastien Loeb (one) and Sébastien Ogier (one) and Irishman Josh McErlean, who ended up being the fastest in the super Saturday’s Foz stage in a WRC2 Hyundai i20 were the remaining winners.
This last day of racing was marked by the accident of the Finn Teemu Suninen (Hyundai i20) in the last special, at Fafe.
The hitherto WRC2 leader did not brake for a left turn and went straight, into an area where there was a group of people, outside the exhibition area.
However, the trees ended up helping to stop the Finn’s car, which forced him to stop the section for a few minutes, and to avoid injury to both the pilot and the navigator and the people who were badly placed there, by outside of any performance area delimited by the organization.
Once the race resumed, the battle for third place animated the last moments of the race, the Spaniard Dani Sordo, who knows the Fafe sector very well, won 4.3 seconds behind the Japanese Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota Yaris), which drops to fourth place. in just 2.1 seconds.
“Congratulations to Dany. Sorry for the team. I tried, but it didn’t come. I’m not good enough. I have to improve,” the Japanese driver lamented, in tears.
Thus, Sordo climbs for the sixth time on the podium of the Rally of Portugal, after already in 2021 having been vice-champion.
Thierry Neuville finished the race fifth, followed by Tanak.
After these results, Rovanperä extended their lead in the Drivers’ Championship. The Finn now has 106 points, against Neuville’s 60 and Katsuta’s 38.
In the Constructors’ World Cup, Toyota leads with 175 points, against 116 for Hyundai and 94 for Ford.
In WRC2, Suninen’s miscarriage on the final stage left victory to Frenchman Yohan Rossel (Citroën C3), who took the championship lead.
Armindo Araújo (Skoda Fábia) was the best Portuguese, 14th overall, being fifth in WRC2, soon followed by Ricardo Teodósio (Hyundai i20).
The next round will be Rally Sardinia, Italy, June 2-5.
Armindo Araújo finishes as the best Portuguese
Driver Armindo Araújo (Skoda Fábia) finished the 55th edition of Rally Portugal as the best Portuguese driver, beating Algarve’s Ricardo Teodósio (Hyundai i20) by 22.5 seconds.
In this particular competition for the status of best national representative, despite the closure of the Portuguese Rally Championship (CPR) classification on Friday, with the victory of Teodósio, Araújo took the upper hand after taking control at the end of the day on Saturday. .
This morning, the rider from Santo Tirso did better than Teodósio in three of the five stages, although he only won one. José Pedro Fontes, in a Citroën C3, won the other two.
The Algarve rider was the fastest of the Portuguese in two of Sunday’s five stages.
Thus, Araújo finished 14th overall, 21.36.8 minutes behind the winner, closely followed by Teodósio, 22.5 seconds behind.
Armindo Araújo also finished fifth in WRC2, with Ricardo Teodósio sixth.
(Article updated at 15:17)