Rally Portugal 2024 Form Guide

Have the unique conditions of the first four rounds been hiding someone's true pace?


With the European leg of the World Rally Championship now in full swing, Rally Portugal follows swiftly on from Croatia Rally.

It is only the second gravel event on the schedule and represents a far more conventional challenge than the Safari six weeks ago. As such, it will provide a fascinating insight into the current pecking order of performance ahead of a summer season featuring another six gravel events.

Running order will undoubtedly play a part. With so many of this year’s field not contesting a full-time schedule, the order is somewhat shaken up. There are a number of drivers, including two world champions, who benefit from a much later start position than they might otherwise have expected.

It could mean that the two drivers setting the pace in this year’s championship race, Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans, will be on something of a damage limitation exercise.

The new-for-2024 WRC points system does at least mean that however much time they lose on Friday, ‘Super Sunday’ still offers plenty of opportunity to bolster their scores.

There are five previous winners of Rally Portugal in the field, which may suggest that the event is wide open. But factor in the likely impact of running order, and clearer favorites emerge.

Here’s our form guide ahead of this year’s Rally Portugal.


#11 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 3rd-5th-4th
Best Portugal result: 1st (2018)

First on the road is not the best place to start a gravel rally. Except in some circumstances, that is a simple fact, and leaves championship leader Thierry Neuville severely handicapped for this week’s event.

Just as he benefited on Croatian asphalt, now he faces a disadvantage on Portuguese dirt. But equally, Neuville must not let it dominate his mindset. If he is to mount a sustained championship challenge, he must overcome such hurdles. It can be done, as Sébastien Ogier proved on countless occasions.

Neuville lost bucketloads of time opening the road in Sweden, where fresh snow made his job even tougher. The conditions in Portugal are not directly comparable but it was an indication that Neuville was ill-at-ease in the position.

Neuville hasn’t finished on the podium in Portugal in the past three years. But in the three editions before that, he was never lower than second – including a win from second on the road in 2018. So if the Hyundai i20 N is up to the job, Neuville can get it done.


#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 2nd-4th-2nd
Best Portugal result: 1st (2021)

Elfyn Evans remains winless in 2024, and it’s hard to see how that will change this week when he has two world champion team-mates in the same equipment with preferential start positions.

But Croatia was another good showing in a consistently strong season to date for Toyota’s title hopeful and his record in Portugal is strong, including victory in 2021.

However, last year’s event was arguably the low-point of the season for Evans. He struggled from first on the road and then had a monster crash at the end of the first day.

Evans will need to banish those memories and, just like Neuville, not let his road position affect him psychologically. While Sweden proved tough from the same start position, Evans showed a willingness to push for ‘Super Sunday’ points and he’s likely to need to do so again here.


#16 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 17th-3rd-3rd
Best Portugal result: 6th (2021)

Aside from that final-day mistake in Croatia – which he bounced back from superbly to win the powerstage – Adrien Fourmaux has been in an exemplary run of form.

Whether that will translate to Portugal’s gravel is another question, especially from a tricky road position, but the key will be retaining the same attitude. On the whole, M-Sport’s lead driver has found that elusive balance between pace and caution this year, and it’s shown in his lofty championship position.

Fourmaux struggled to ninth on his only previous Rally1 start in Portugal in 2022, suffering from an initial lack of confidence as well as punctures. Tire trouble also dropped him out of the running after leading the WRC2 class on last year’s event.

But Fourmaux impressed on his way to sixth overall, on only his second top-flight start in the Fiesta WRC, in 2021. If he can stay focused and let the rally come to him, a good result is achievable, but a podium may be asking too much.

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#8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 4th-8th-41st
Best Portugal result: 1st (2019)

While Elfyn Evans is still seeking his first win of 2024, Ott Tänak is yet to even stand on the podium. It has not been a happy start to the 2019 world champion’s second spell at Hyundai.

But Portugal offers an opportunity for a reset. A conventional gravel rally with a road position that’s better than his would-be championship rivals could be just the recipe for a Tänak masterclass. He appears to have had a better feel for the Hyundai on the loose, but cannot afford to suffer another day-one retirement, as happened in both Sweden and Kenya.

Tänak dominated Rally Portugal en route to his 2019 title. But he hasn’t stood on the podium there since, with punctures and mechanical dramas contributing to the malaise. He led until suffering suspension failure in 2021, and briefly led last year’s edition in the Ford Puma until puncturing.

Tänak is now 33 points behind team-mate Neuville in the points standings and really needs a win in Portugal to reignite his challenge.


#17 Sébastien Ogier (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 1st-2nd-2nd
Best Portugal result: 1st (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 & 2017)

Eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier won Croatia Rally despite an unfavorable road position. So, surely, with the benefit of starting fifth on the road for Portugal’s gravel stages he must be the favorite? Throw in his past record at the event, boasting five wins, and he must be a shoo-in?

That might have been the case were it not for his team-mate two cars further back. Then the ever-present risk of flats on this event can always throw a spanner in the works too.

Nevertheless, Ogier will be heading to Portugal full of optimism that he can pull clear of Markku Alén as the most successful driver in the event’s history.

Ogier will of course need to keep in mind his obligation to score points for Toyota’s manufacturers’ championship push, while – perhaps – avoiding taking too many from team-mate Elfyn Evans, especially on Sunday, but there is little doubt he will be a strong contender for victory.


#18 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 5th-2nd-45th
Best Portugal result: 4th (2021 & 2022)

Takamoto Katsuta arrives in Portugal after topping the ‘Super Sunday’ leaderboard in Croatia, a nice boost for his confidence. Having excelled on the Safari, his gravel form is strong too.

Further positives come in the form of his decent road position and the fact he is not registered for manufacturers’ points this weekend. This is the first – and perhaps only – time this season that Katsuta is Toyota’s fourth driver. He won’t be treating it as a demotion; more a chance to compete without pressure.

However, Katsuta’s record in Portugal is not stellar. In six starts, only twice has he completed the stages without recourse to super rally. But on both those occasions he finished fourth; he’d surely be happy with a similar result on Sunday.


#69 Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 1st-39th-3rd
Best Portugal result: 1st (2022 & 2023)

Kalle Rovanperä’s 2024 season is all about having time to enjoy other pursuits, while also providing better opportunity to win rallies with no championship at stake.

Events like his Formula Drift Japan outing at Fuji last month tick the former box, while this week’s Rally Portugal is another great chance to add to his success on the Safari Rally over Easter.

Rovanperä couldn’t ask for a better position to start, seventh on the road, and he has excellent Portugal pedigree too – he has won the past two editions of the event.

The same consideration for Toyota’s championship aims apply as for Ogier. But, just like his team-mate, that should have little impact on the Finn’s push for victory.


#13 Grégoire Munster/Louis Louka (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 7th-15th-23th
Best Portugal result: 42nd (2023) (27th in WRC2)

It’s been a challenging season of learning for M-Sport’s second driver so far in 2024. But Grégoire Munster achieved his target for last month’s Croatia Rally – a sensible run to finish in seventh overall. And while Rally Portugal is an entirely different kettle of fish, that will have boosted his confidence heading into the event.

Unfortunately for Munster, this is another rally of which he has precious little experience. Last year’s edition, which he contested in a Ford Fiesta Rally2, is his only previous attempt. And that started very badly, with a first-stage roll.

Thereafter it was simply a case of building his knowledge of the stages, which will hopefully provide something to work from this week. Avoiding any similar errors and completing a clean rally will be the only target.

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#6 Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: DNF-3rd-5th
Best Portugal result: 2nd (2021 & 2023)

It is six months since Dani Sordo started a WRC event – and his Rally Japan outing only lasted until the second stage. You have to go all the way back to the Acropolis in September for the Spaniard’s previous WRC round on gravel.

Rustiness could prove to be a problem, but Hyundai’s veteran part-timer will hope to have shaken off the cobwebs with his run on the recent Rali Terras d’Aboboreira warm-up event, where he competed outside the main classification.

Sordo’s status as a safe pair of hands is well known, and is exactly what he is in the team for: a backup to the two main drivers who will deliver a decent points haul if either of them hits trouble.

His record in Portugal is fantastic, with seven podium finishes on the event including in each of the past three years. Recording an eighth this week is a distinct possibility.