DOLGELLAU driver Elfyn Evans is looking forward to the increasing challenges that Rally de Pourtgal poses.

His Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team will take on the rally (9-12 May) with a strong line-up of four drivers ready to continue the team’s run of success on the popular gravel event.

For the first time in the 2024 season, the team will be able to count on both of its world champion drivers, Kalle Rovanperä and Sébastien Ogier: winners of the last two rounds in Kenya and Croatia respectively.

Rovanperä is aiming to win in Portugal for the third year in succession, while Ogier is a five-time winner of the event.

Elfyn Evans is also a previous winner in Portugal: his victory in 2021 is one of four consecutive wins by TGR-WRT there since 2019. Evans is currently just six points from the lead of the drivers’ championship after a consistent start to his campaign, with three podium finishes from four events.

While the team has nominated the three previous Portugal winners to contribute towards the manufacturers’ championship, which it currently leads by seven points, Takamoto Katsuta will also be aiming high on an event he has performed strongly on in the past.

Evans said: “We’re into a busy part of the season now with rallies coming thick and fast, and our focus moves back to gravel for the next events.

“Portugal can be quite a nice rally with some fast and flowing sections, but recently it’s also become more of a challenge in terms of how rough the roads can get, especially in some of the classic stages further south that we drive on Friday.

“Like always on gravel, road position could be a factor but it’s also a rally that can really depend on the weather.

“We just have to focus on doing the best job we can with the conditions we have and try to take the maximum from the weekend.”

The route is similar to previous years, with the rally beginning to the south around the historic city of Coimbra.

This year, the competitive action begins on Thursday night with the Figueira da Foz super special that was run on Friday last year.

Friday still features added stage kilometres with the Mortágua test to now be run at both the start and end of the day.

Saturday is the longest day of the rally, featuring 145.02 competitive kilometres.

A repeated loop of four stages in the Cabreira mountains to the north-east of Porto includes the retuning Montim as well as Amarante, the longest stage of the season so far at 37.24 km.

Another super special stage at the Lousada rallycross circuit runs in the evening. Sunday features two passes of Cabeceiras de Basto and the famous Fafe, which serves as the rally-ending Power Stage.