Event begins run of gravel rallies
Following an emotional outing at Croatia Rally in memory of Craig Breen, we are now preparing for Rally de Portugal next weekend (May 11-14) as WRC returns to gravel for the fifth round of the season.
“There is no denying that this is still incredibly hard for our team, and that won’t change for some time,” said Cyril, our Team Principal. “There is still a great sadness among us as we head into Rally de Portugal, and there will be times where Craig’s passing will hit us hard, but I think it’s important we remember to enjoy it, for him.”
Ready to fly
Rally de Portugal is synonymous with the WRC, having been one of the founding events in 1973. Despite our crews being well acquainted with the sandy Portuguese stages, the event still retains elements of surprise. Often described as technical and fast in profile, the roads are smooth and soft on the first run yet become rocky and rough on the repeat leg.
Of all the rally’s crests and hills, the famous Fafe jump is a fan favourite; Esapekka and Janne have form here, having won the 2017 FIA Action of the Year award for their 33-metre leap – which just so happened to be on their Rally de Portugal debut.
Three of our i20 N Rally1 Hybrid cars will enter the 2023 edition of the event. Thierry/Martijn and Esapekka/Janne will be joined by Dani and Cándido, who finished third in Portugal with our new-generation hybrid car on their very first outing with it in 2022.
“It would be amazing to finish on the podium again next weekend,” commented Dani. “We felt we had the pace and potential in Mexico, so we want to be back in the fight for the top-three in Portugal.”
“The atmosphere first and foremost really stands out,” added Thierry. “We have the iconic Fafe jump, some really sandy roads, hard-based stages around Amarante, and it’s great to have so many enthusiastic fans there with us.”
“Rally de Portugal is a unique rally,” said Esapekka. “It was emotional to finish on the podium in Croatia, but it was special to do it for Craig. We hope we can carry that momentum forward with us into Portugal.”
Hyundai Motorsport N will also be back in the WRC2 class at Rally de Portugal, with Teemu/Mikko Markkula and Fabrizio/Marcelo set to contest the event with our i20 N Rally2.
“I am really looking forward to getting back to behind wheel of the car,” said Teemu. “Rally de Portugal has always been one of my favourite events so I hope we can deliver a win for me and the team.”
“I think Rally de Portugal and I have some unfinished business,” added Fabrizio. “We are up against some very talented competitors and it won’t be easy, but we are determined to fight and bring home important championship points.”
Rally de Portugal will take place on May 11-14.