Ogier creates history with sixth win in Portugal

12 maio 2024

Eight-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier became the first driver to win the Vodafone Rally of Portugal six times after an absorbing battle with former champion Ott Tänak on the closing four gravel stages on Sunday.


Tied on five wins with Finnish legend Markku Alén since his last win in 2017, Ogier led after stage 11, regained the advantage on SS13 and held it to the finish of 22 pulsating specials in the Centro and Northern regions of Portugal.


Along with co-driver Vincent Landais, the Toyota Yaris GR Rally1 driver’s winning margin was 7.9 seconds, although the Frenchman missed out on maximum Sunday points to second-placed Tänak and Martin Järveoja in the first of the Hyundai i20 N Rally1s. Ogier amassed seven stage wins on the way to his 60th career WRC win.


He said: “One more time. Nothing against being tied with Markku Alén – he is a legend. Now it finally happened (six wins). It has been a great weekend but not fantastic for the whole team. It is a good feeling. I was crying from the concentration and the dust in the eyes but the emotion is still there.”


Starting first on the road on Friday morning was an obvious disadvantage for the current championship leaders, Thierry Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe. But they delivered a polished performance in demanding conditions to finish third with dense fog prevalent on the final morning adding to the challenge.


Neuville led for the first two stages, won four in total (including the Wolf Power Stage) and

finished the event with a 24-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship over chief rival Elfyn

Evans. The Belgian said: “We had a really clean run. I tried to push as hard as I could. My

tyres were not the best. Thanks to the team. We knew it was not going to be an easy



Evans struggled over the three days with his rhythm and trying to find a favourable car set-up and co-driver Scott Martin even mislaid his pace notes on Friday. But, when the temperature began to soar on the Toyota’s engine near the end of the penultimate stage, it was icing on a poisoned cake for the luckless Yaris driver. The Yaris lapsed into EV mode, but the crew somehow managed to keep going and remarkably reached the finish in sixth overall.


Adrien Fourmaux has been the most improved driver this season and the Frenchman exuded confidence throughout the weekend in the lead M-Sport Ford Puma. He and Alexandre Coria claimed the stage record at Lousada on Saturday evening and reached the finish in fourth overall, picking up vital championship points in the process, although he slipped to fourth in the Drivers’ Championship behind Tänak.


Dani Sordo and Candido Carrera returned to the WRC for the first time this season in the third of the Hyundais. The gravel specialist revelled in his starting position with three stage wins on Friday but he struggled in foggy conditions on the final morning and slipped behind Fourmaux to finish fifth.


Three top five finishes for the Hyundai trio lifted the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team four points ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing in the Manufacturers’ Championship.


WRC2 cars completed the top 10: Nikolay Gryazin opted not to select the event as part of his points-scoring programme and that decision was a costly one for the Citroën C3 driver. He finished ahead of all the registered drivers and claimed seventh overall, despite admitting to trying various set-ups during the course of the weekend.


The battle for actual WRC2 points was fierce and intense. Before crashing spectacularly and damaging his Škoda Fabia RS on Saturday morning, Oliver Solberg had been the pace-setter, alongside Pierre-Louis Loubet and Gus Greensmith. Solberg’s demise handed the reins to Yohan Rossel and Greensmith and they were closely matched until the Briton clipped a banking, wedged his Fabia and retired.


An on-stage tyre change then cost Rossel valuable time and Jan Solans and Josh Mcerlean took up the fight and were closely matched with the Spaniard holding a small advantage going into the final morning.


Mcerlean briefly gained the lead but eighth-placed Solans managed to hold off the Irishman on the final stage to snatch a 3.2-second win with Lauri Joona claiming the last place on the WRC2 podium in 10th overall. Solans also collected maximum WRC2 Challenger points. He said: “It is absolutely an amazing feeling and also the first win for the Toyota Rally2.”


Two unfortunate time penalties wrecked Rossel’s chance of a comeback and he finished fifth behind Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zaldevar. After time losses earlier in the rally, Sami Pajari reeled off a string of stage wins before crashing out on the penultimate stage.


Outgoing World Champions, Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen, are tackling a part-time programme with Toyota this year and claimed a couple of stage wins and led the event outright for four stages. But the Finn crashed out of contention on the 11th speed test. Stage cleaning duties on the final morning meant he only really challenged for Power Stage points and set the third quickest time.


Like his team-mate Rovanperä, Takamoto Katsuta started the event strongly and led for three stages before he slipped to third. Clouting a rock proved costly for the Japanese and his co-driver Aaron Johnston when he broke the rear suspension on the Yaris, but he was able to return for the final morning and earned one Power Stage point.


Three-time event winner Armindo Araújo was once again the leading local driver to finish the event in 17th overall and 10th in WRC2. Frenchman Jean-Michel Raoux was 18th and won the FIA WRC Masters Cup for Drivers in his Toyota GR Yaris Rally2.


Sunday – as it happened


With up to 12 points at stake for the winner of the day’s four stages and the Wolf Power Stage, there was plenty to play for at the start of the final leg. Both Ogier and Tänak had favourable road positions for the opening 19.91km of the demanding Cabeceiras de Basto stage, but the Frenchman had the crucial advantage of an 11.9-second lead.


With leader Gryazin not registered for WRC2 points in Portugal, Solans took a lead of eight seconds over Mcerlean into the final morning. Rossel’s anticipated charge suffered a mighty set-back when he was penalised with a one-minute penalty for leaving Parc Fermé early this morning. This came on the back of another penalty that the Frenchman had been given on Saturday evening for driving in SS13 without safety harnesses correctly fastened after a wheel change.


Defending World Champion Rovanperä and team-mate Katsuta were given road-sweeping duties on a stage that started and finished in foggy conditions with better visibility at higher altitude. Sordo was clearly struggling in the foggy conditions, lost over half a minute and the Spaniard relinquished fourth place to Fourmaux. 


Neuville admitted that it was tricky to find a fast pace in the foggy conditions and he set the third quickest time but Ogier excelled in the shifting fog to earn the stage win and extend his lead over Tänak to 18.1 seconds. Mcerlean reduced Solans’s grip on the WRC2 lead to just three seconds.


Thousands of spectators braved the foggy conditions to be in situ for the start of the first pass through the legendary 11.18km Fafe stage. Rovanperä realised that road cleaning was going to prevent him from being competitive on the final morning and the Finn opted to conserve his tyres for the Power Stage. He dropped 16.3 seconds to team-mate Katsuta, who was running with no hybrid.


Sordo continued to struggle in the tricky foggy conditions although all the leading drivers erred on the side of caution with their pace notes with judging distance into the corners becoming a problem. Tänak attacked in a bid to accumulate as many Sunday points as possible and the Estonian managed to beat Neuville by four seconds to claim the stage win. Ogier’s lead was trimmed to 13.6 seconds and the Estonian closed in on the Frenchman for maximum Sunday points.


A flying Mcerlean snatched the WRC2 lead by just one-tenth of a second from Solans nut Pajari claimed yet another fastest time in the category.  


The re-run of Cabeceiras de Basto preceded the Wolf Power Stage at Fafe. The fog had failed to lift at the stage of the penultimate stage of the rally. Munster’s goal of finishing the event ended 1.1km into the stage when he half-spun, slid off the side of the track on a left-hander and the car became wedged off the road with no spectators around to push him back into action.


There was drama for Evans when the Yaris’s engine temperature began to soar and the car switched into EV mode for the latter part of the stage. He crawled to the stage finish with the loss of one and a half minutes but still maintained sixth place in the overall classification. The Welshman’s major concern was being able to restart the engine and whether it had suffered any lasting damage from the cooling issue. Evans managed to get the car going on the road section and headed to the final regroup before Fafe.


Tänak continued his charge and another quickest time enabled the Estonian to trim Ogier’s overall lead to 10.1 seconds and set up the prospect of a thrilling showdown for ‘Super Sunday’ points on the final Fafe stage. Tänak led the day’s classification by 1.8 seconds. The fog began to clear for the later crews and Solans attacked: the Spaniard regained the lead from Mcerlean in WRC2 by 6.4 seconds.


The second pass through the iconic Fafe stage would decide the outcome of numerous battles waging down the leader board. The leading WRC2 crews were into action first and road-opening duties in much-improved visibility fell to seventh-placed Gryazin, who led all his rivals but had opted not to register for championship points in Portugal.


Solans held his nerve to seal victory in WRC2 by 3.2 seconds from Mcerlean, despite the Irishman beating him by 3.15 seconds on the Wolf Power Stage. It marked the first victory for the Toyota GR Yaris Rally2.


Rovanperä laid down the Power Stage gauntlet with a run of 6min 25.958sec and that bettered the previous stage record he had set last year. Katsuta, Evans, Sordo and Fourmaux were unable to match the Finn, but Neuville ran even faster with a time of 6min 23.725sec to set a new stage record. Tänak slotted into second with a run of 6min 23.892sec


The three-way fight for ‘Super Sunday’s’ seven bonus points went in Tänak’s favour with Neuville claiming five additional points for the Wolf Power Stage win.


Ogier’s consolation was becoming the most successful driver in the history of the Rally of Portugal with six wins. His success also gave Toyota a record-breaking ninth win on the event.


2024 Vodafone Rally of Portugal – positions after SS22 (top 10 only): 

1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Vincent Landais (FRA) Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid        3hr 41min 32.3sec

2. Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid                 3hr 41min 40.2sec

3. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid            3hr 42min 42.1sec

4. Adrien Fourmaux (FRA)/Alexandre Coria (FRA) Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid           3hr 43min 20.1sec

5. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Candido Carrera (ESP) Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid                          3hr 44min 21.2sec

6. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid                          3hr 48min 08.3sec

7. Nikolay Gryazin (BLG)/Konstantin Aleksandrov (ANA) Citroën C3 (WRC2*)    3hr 53min 20.7sec

8. Jan Solans (ESP)/Rodrigo Sanjuan (ESP) Toyota GR Yaris (WRC2)                    3hr 53min 25.2sec

9. Joshua Mcerlean (IRL)/James Fulton (IRL) Škoda Fabia RS (WRC2)                     3hr 53min 28.4sec

10. Lauri Joona (FIN)/Janni Hussi (FIN) Škoda Fabia RS (WRC2)                  3hr 55min 12.6sec

* not registered for WRC2 points in Portugal


Rally leaders 

SS1-2        Thierry Neuville

SS3-5        Takamoto Katsuta

SS6-10      Kalle Rovanperä

SS11         Sébastien Ogier

SS12          Ott Tänak

SS13-22     Sébastien Ogier


Stage winners 

SS1           Thierry Neuville

SS2           Thierry Neuville

SS3           Dani Sordo

SS4           Dani Sordo

SS5           Thierry Neuville

SS6           Sébastien Ogier

SS7           Dani Sordo

SS8           Kalle Rovanperä

SS9           Sébastien Ogier

SS10         Kalle Rovanperä

SS11         Sébastien Ogier

SS12         Ott Tänak

SS13         Sébastien Ogier

SS14         Ott Tänak

SS15         Ott Tänak

SS16         Sébastien Ogier

SS17         Sébastien Ogier

SS18         Adrien Fourmaux

SS19         Sébastien Ogier

SS20         Ott Tänak

SS21         Ott Tänak

SS22         Thierry Neuville

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