TOYOTA GAZOO Racing occupies the top three places going into the final day of the Rally de Portugal after a strong performance with the GR YARIS Rally1 car on Saturday. Kalle Rovanperä has a narrow lead over team-mate Elfyn Evans, with Takamoto Katsuta up into third overall in his TGR World Rally Team Next Generation entry.
Evans and Rovanperä traded fastest times during the morning loop of three stages, with Evans winning two of those tests to extend his overnight lead to 18.4 seconds. Rovanperä was stronger in the afternoon, winning the first two stages of the loop before taking the lead with an excellent second-fastest time when rain hit the repeat pass of Amarante: This was the longest stage of the 2022 season so far at 37.24 kilometres and the rainfall made conditions extremely difficult for those running further down the road order like Rovanperä and Evans, who was last of the Rally1 cars on the road as the Friday night leader.
Following the slippery Porto-Foz super special that rounded out the day, the two team-mates are separated by 5.7s at the top of the standings.
Katsuta was the closest driver to Rovanperä and Evans on most of the stages, showing strong and consistent speed that allowed him to move ahead of Dani Sordo and into third overall in the first pass through Amarante. During the afternoon he continued to add to his advantage, which stands at 5.7s tonight.
Having had to stop on Friday afternoon following consecutive flat tyres, Sébastien Ogier restarted this morning looking to gain more experience with the GR YARIS Rally1 on gravel. In SS11 he spun and got stuck at the side of the road, and although he managed to complete the morning loop, his car was then retired for the day to ensure that it could be properly repaired ahead of the final day.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It’s been a really interesting day for us to say the least, and it’s great to be in this position tonight. Both Kalle and Elfyn have been driving really well today, they’ve both looked really comfortable in the GR YARIS Rally1 and the performance has been very good. Elfyn looked to be in control this morning and then things turned around on the second pass of Amarante with the rain, and Kalle did a great job to take the lead there. Of course Elfyn will try to fight back tomorrow and as usual we want to see a fair battle between our drivers. Taka was also driving really well today and we hope he can hold on to the podium position and we can bring this result home tomorrow.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“Unfortunately I did a mistake in the second stage this morning. I lost the concentration a bit, as we had lost the use of the hybrid system about 200 meters before, and I didn’t really listen to the pacenote for the next corner. So I came a bit too fast, hit the bank and spun and got stuck. It was not worth risking any further damage by going back out this afternoon with nothing to fight for. Of course I would have loved to use this day as a test to get some more experience with the car. But we still have some stages left tomorrow, and we’ll be there as a backup to take some points for the team if needed.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“The rhythm was quite good this morning and we had a nice fun battle with Kalle. He then did a really good job this afternoon, and the rain in the long stage definitely didn’t help us. We faced quite changeable conditions: It was raining quite hard at the beginning and there were a few patches that were exceptionally slippery which caught us by surprise. The ending wasn’t so bad but I think we probably gave away too much time early on and the damage was done. But Kalle also drove really well in those conditions, to be fair. I’m sure it will be a good fight tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It has been a really good day for us. Another clean day without mistakes was really important. I felt quite comfortable in the car so I didn’t need to push right to the limit all of the time, and this afternoon we were able to catch up to Elfyn, so we have to be really happy. I wasn’t expecting to be able to take the lead in the way we did: To have full rain in the middle of the long stage while on hard tyres was not easy, but I tried to push and to make a difference and it worked out. Tomorrow will be tight and we will have to see how the feeling and the pace is in the morning. Elfyn was really fast on those stages last year, so we will need to push hard if we want to fight with him for the win.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) 3h13m46.7s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +5.7s
3 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +1m50.1s
4 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +1m55.8s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +2m25.9s
6 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1) +4m00.4s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Rally1) +4m14.7s
8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +4m40.9s
9 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1) +7m04.3s
10 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) +10m08.5s
55 Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +2h02m26.8s
(Results as of 20:00 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Five stages will bring the rally to a close on Sunday, centered around the town of Fafe – which gives its name to the most famous stage of the event, known for its iconic jump close to the finish. The second pass over Fafe will be the rally-ending Power Stage, offering bonus points for the fastest five crews.
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