Portugal: The abundance of good, the main danger at Toyota?

By entering 4 crews for the first time this season, Toyota Gazoo Racing appears to be the favorite for this event. For the manufacturer which has won the last 4 rallies in Portugal, could the threat come from an internal struggle?

Published on 09/05/2024 à 20:36

Loïc ROCCI

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Portugal: The abundance of good, the main danger at Toyota?

Sébastien Ogier has not won since 2017 in Portugal and he will undoubtedly find Kalle Rovanperä on his way (Photo: Nikos Katikis/DPPI)

On paper, the balance of power appears unbalanced. With two world champions in its ranks, one of whom won the last two editions in Porto, the TGR seems very solid. The Yaris has always been very popular in the north of Portugal as evidenced by the 4 consecutive successes with 3 different drivers (Rovanperä in 2022 and 2023, Evans in 2021 and Thank you in 2019). The three crews nominated by the brand all won and the Rally1 built in Jyväskylä has already shown its peak speed on gravel this year with a double at the Safari, the only event run on this surface so far. . In addition to their track record, one of the assets that Kalle Rovanperä and Sébastien Ogier at the start of this 5e round of the season is that they will respectively start in 5e and 7e position. This should ensure they benefit from a cleaned roadway.

If Jari-Matti recognized the importance of this parameter after the shakedown, he insisted on other points. “ I consider that reliability is an essential factor in this field, assured JML. Then, the cars being close, it is the drivers who will make the difference. » Precisely, within his team, it was decided to field for the first time since Japan 2023 both Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä. Neither of them is aiming for the title this season, the Finn and the Frenchman will be able to ride completely free.

Until now, the manufacturer has never practiced racing instructions and it would be surprising if that happened this weekend. This implies that the two crowned heads will have carte blanche. With nothing motivating them more than victory, this should provide a great battle. Once helmeted, neither will want to give in. Their duel promises to be explosive with undoubtedly a question of supremacy in the background. You just have to remember the intensity of the fight at Monte-Carlo 2023 or the Safari to imagine what that could give to Portugal. Could this represent a risk for Toyota ? Can this internal struggle turn against the TGR? Response tomorrow from Amarante.

Loïc ROCCI

Journalist specializing in rallying past, present and future... and with a southern accent

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