DirtFish’s Rally Portugal 2024 Driver Ratings

There's everything from eights to three's in Colin Clark's Portugal ratings – read on to find out who got what

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Rally Portugal delivered once again. There was action, drama, heroics, the lot. But in that equation, there will always be star performers and those who fluffed their execution. Among the Rally1 crews, there was a near-even split between those two camps. Read on to find out which drivers fell on which side of the divide last week!



Sébastien Ogier – 8/10

Ogier again showed his class. He is, without question, the statesman of the WRC. He used all of his experience to make it two wins in a row, proving again that he hasn’t lost any of his ability.

To win on the tarmac in Croatia and then to come here and win on the gravel of Portugal is quite some achievement for a part-time driver. We’ve seen and heard other part-time drivers lament the lack of seat time and talking about the issues that causes. Not Ogier. The eight-time world champion came here with a plan, stuck to that plan and delivered. His behavior, his demeanour, his presence was just exemplary; he spent more time with the fans than just about any other driver.

It wasn’t a perfect weekend from Ogier; he struggled on the Friday but he was fully deserving of victory.


Elfyn Evans – 4/10

This is a really difficult one. Elfyn had a nightmare of a weekend. He was always going to struggle being second on the road but comparing him to Neuville, who came away with third place and a bucket load of points from first on the road, is not a flattering look.

It wasn’t road position that hampered Evans this weekend, it was the car. There’s nothing wrong with that car per se, it’s just that he can’t find a setup in that car that he’s comfortable with. The window of operation for Evans in the Yaris appears very narrow. All four Yaris drivers initially struggled on Friday but what will worry Elfyn is that Ogier, Rovanperä and Katsuta came out on Saturday morning and those issues had been resolved. The stage characteristics suited their setup better and they were able to take more confidence from their car, push harder, and set better times, whereas Elfyn did not.

The worrying thing for Elfyn is the problem of confidence with that car is unlikely to get better in Sardinia. It will be just as difficult to find the sweet spot there as it was here in Portugal. He did get to the finish despite a rock damaging his cooling system on the penultimate stage; I’m going to give him credit and an extra point for his incredible mechanical skills in finding and repairing that damage to the Yaris. It kept him in the event and meant he didn’t walk away with zero. He worked very, very hard to keep the car in the event.


Takamoto Katsuta – 4/10

Giving Katsuta a 4/10 might seem harsh if you’re an Evans supporter, given Taka crashed out of the rally and Elfyn covered every stage mile. But Taka showed really pace on Friday, getting stuck in and even leading the rally briefly. Unfortunately he also showed that when the pressure and expectation gets to a certain level while a victory is a real possibility, that pressure gets to him and then the mistakes appear.

When you start a number of small mistakes, there’s always a chance you’re going to make a bigger one. That’s what happened with Takamoto. It’s encouraging that in recent rallies, when he’s made mistakes it hasn’t taken him long to bounce back and find that pace again. In the past when he’s has made big mistakes and dropped out of rallies, he’s had big rolls or big crashes, it had taken him several events to find that pace again. That doesn’t appear to be the case this year, or certainly from the end of last year.

Katsuta has a lot to look forward to. He does need to deal with this inability to convert winning positions into actual wins. That pressure seems to get to him. It was a difficult weekend but he can still take a few positives away from Portugal.


Kalle Rovanperä – 3/10

Rovanperä wasn’t really at the races on Friday. We expected so much more from him with the road position but he struggled with the setup of the car, as all the Toyota drivers did. To me, there seemed to be a lack of focus and a lack of consequence. Making a big mistake and not getting through the rally? It doesn’t matter, I’m not fighting for a championship. That might be a little bit harsh – but an extra tenth of a percentage focusing on what’s needed to consistently be there to win rallies may be missing, therefore, mistakes happen.

It was an incredibly silly mistake. It doesn’t matter how well you know a road, you have to listen to those pacenotes and you drive to the pacenotes, not to what you remember. He was in a section where he wasn’t fully listening and concentrating as hard as he should have been because it was a section he knew and liked. He got caught out and my belief is that wouldn’t have happened to a full-time Kalle Rovanperä during his title-winning seasons.


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Ott Tänak – 8/10

There was a big improvement from Tänak this weekend, not just in his performance but very much in his demeanor. He seemed to be more amenable, he seemed to be more approachable, he seemed happier out of the car. Did that translate into performance in the car? I think it did.

He still has issues with the i20 N Rally1, specifically around the setup. It isn’t doing what he wants it to do but he’s learning to deal with that, as his teammate Thierry Neuville has done almost all the way through his Hyundai career. Neuville is the master at battling through issues, in ignoring cars that do unpredictable things, snapping left and right with, oversteer, or refusing to budge with understeer.

Tänak must do the same. He is realizing that with the homologation issues and number of jokers Hyundai has, his team cannot change the i20 into a car that suits his driving style. Either his driving style or approach to dealing with risk had to change – and I think we saw a bit of that this weekend. He pushed very, very hard. He talked an awful lot about how the car didn’t feel great, how the car was performing unpredictably but he was setting great times. Had it not been for that puncture just before Saturday lunchtime, he’d have pushed Ogier all the way. It was a step forward for Tänak this weekend.

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Thierry Neuville – 8/10

To be totally honest with you, I’d debated about whether or not to give him a 9/10 for this performance. He showed real tenacity on the stages. He was first on the road on Friday and yes, the conditions played into his hands a little bit with a damper surface, but traction was still difficult. He made the most of Friday. A little bit of ground was lost in the afternoon but he stuck at it, battling through and getting his just desserts.

Thierry did drive with a degree of flamboyancy this weekend – but it’s controlled flamboyancy. It’s entertaining to watch but my goodness it must be hairy in the car at times. It’s a strange thing to say but it’s as if he knows how to predict the unpredictable with that car. And he deals with it brilliantly. He goes away from Portugal extending his lead in the championship, which he would not have anticipated or even thought possible before the rally began.

Right now, I wouldn’t bet against him. The car is reliable. He’s offering some consistency in his driving and he keeps scoring points. He’s developing into a really delightful driver to watch and to enjoy, not just on the stages but off them as well. He’s edging closer to becoming the complete package.

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Dani Sordo – 6/10

Sordo is, without question, one of the most likable characters in the WRC. He’s got longevity like no one else. He just keeps bouncing back, gets in the car after months away and he delivers what the team ask him to do. He is the ultimate team player. People have been writing him off for years but he comes back and he delivers.

He sat on Neuville’s tail for all of Saturday. He was never going to be allowed to finish ahead of the championship leader and dropped behind him, clearly, dropping a chunk of time on Saturday’s penultimate stage to ensure that he didn’t move ahead of Neuville, both to give him extra Saturday points and better road position for Sunday. It was another demonstration of how much of a team player he is.

But there was one issue – and it’s always been the case. Dani is a confidence driver. When he’s confident in the conditions, when he’s confident in the car, he is brilliant. The minute things start to change the confidence goes. If a dry surface becomes wet, if a wet surface becomes icy, or as was the case on Sunday morning in Portugal, a clear road becomes foggy, he drops a long way back. That said, it didn’t cost him much in terms of result or my estimation of his performance this weekend. It was the perfect team performance. He sat just behind his teammates, waiting to pick up the pieces should anything go wrong for either of his team leaders.

M-Sport Ford

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Adrien Fourmaux – 7/10

This was an encouraging weekend where once again he looks more and more like the real deal. He’s growing in confidence, in stature, and in belonging. He looks like he belongs within that WRC top-level paddock these days.

There’s a joy about young Fourmaux that infects everyone. He is loving his rallying. He is loving the opportunity and it shows. There’s no disrespect. There’s no lack of focus in the way that he presents himself. It’s just joy, sheer joy, at being able to drive these machines in a way that delivers results. And it delivers optimism – mostly for M-Sport that, perhaps as soon as next year, they have a driver that can genuinely take that step forward and challenge for the title. He’s challenging for a podium place in this year’s championship race.

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Grégoire Munster – 3/10

It’s very difficult to be critical of young drivers, but we have to be realistic. Unfortunately, this was a very bad rally for Munster. He has brought his pace down to get to the end of rallies, which is correct. You learn nothing by sitting at the side of the road in a ditch watching your opponents drive by. If that means reducing your pace and bringing the level of risk down, then so be it. Put aside your desire to know the times and compare yourself to other drivers. Performance is the ultimate aim, but performance for Munster right now has to be to finish rallies.

Munster needs to take a long, hard look at his approach and how he completes the rallies because he has the golden ticket this year. He has the most remarkable opportunity and he is in danger of squandering that opportunity. I fully expect to see a different approach from Munster in Sardinia and, fingers crossed, that new approach pays off.