WRC Rovanperä wins Rally Portugal and strengthens its lead

Rovanperä thus strengthens its position as leader of the Championship, now with a 46-point advantage over its runner-up, the Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai).

In command of the race since the penultimate stage on Saturday, the 21-year-old completed the 21st and final timed stage with an advantage of 15 seconds over Evans and two minutes and 17 seconds over Sordo. And with five bonus points, for his best time in this Power Stage.

“Right now, it looks like we’re on a really good streak! To be honest, starting first (on the road, as the championship leader, editor’s note) and fighting for a victory like that, it’s really good. Our car was perfect as always,” savored Rovanperä after the finish.

Youngest overall leader

Rovanperä’s victory is the fifth of his WRC career, the third in a row after successes in Sweden and Croatia. As a result, he is even more comfortably installed in first place in the World Championship standings.

He is the youngest leader in WRC history with three wins in four rounds and also the youngest winner in Portugal.

This fourth round of the season, reputed to be difficult due to its rough dirt roads, was mastered without the slightest hitch by the Finnish driver, winner of eight specials.

Impressive on Friday and Saturday, during two days marked by mechanical problems and repeated retirements by the ogres Sébastien Loeb (Ford) and Sébastien Ogier (Toyota), now “freelancers”, Rovanperä perfectly managed his lead on Sunday morning in the last five stages.

During his interesting neck and neck with Evans, a previous winner on Portuguese soil, he always appeared relaxed and never seemed under pressure.

Second in the championship at the start of this 4th round, Neuville (Hyundai) was disappointing and had to settle for fifth place overall. The 33-year-old Belgian, winner on Portuguese soil in 2018, was notably penalized by the loss of a wheel during SS8 on Friday, a hitch that caused him to lose precious time.

In the constructors’ championship, Toyota, thanks to this double, now has 175 points. The Japanese brand has further widened the gap on Hyundai (116) and the Ford of the M-Sport team (94).

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