› 22-year-old Swede Oliver Solberg, goes into the FIA World Rally Championship’s fifth round as joint leader of the WRC2 classification, together with co-driver Elliott Edmondson
› Solberg’s Toksport WRT teammates Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (GBR/SWE) are back in the fight for WRC2 points
› French youngster Pierre-Louis Loubet and co-driver Loris Pascaud start WRC2 campaign with a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 prepared by Toksport WRT

Mladá Boleslav, 7 May 2024 – The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) returns to gravel: At the upcoming Rally Portugal (9-12 May 2024), the rocky and sandy special stages of the Porto area await the WRC2 crews. Relying on Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, joint championship leader Oliver Solberg (SWE) as well as Toksport WRT teammate Gus Greensmith (GBR) chase their second category victory of the season. For French youngster Pierre-Louis Loubet, also taking to the wheel of a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 of team Toksport WRT, Portugal marks his first WRC event of the season.

At Rally Portugal, a whopping 40 crews are registered for points. Among the five manufacturers involved, Škoda is with 19 entries by far the strongest brand. Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson want another win after a victory in Sweden and a second place at Safari Rally Kenya. This would give Solberg the advantage over Yohan Rossel, with whom he for now shares the championship overall lead. “My Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 and the gravel stages of Rally Portugal are a perfect match. Last year, I missed the WRC2 victory by just 1.2 seconds to Gus. At least, it stayed inside the team”, laughs the young Swede.

With last year’s result in mind, Gus Greensmith is on the mission to catch up in the current championship standings. From the four WRC events of this season, he had nominated only one to score points – Safari Rally Kenya, which he duly won. “It’s all about finding a clean line on the tough gravel stages. And to avoid punctures”, explains Gus Greensmith ahead of Rally Portugal.

Both Toksport WRT drivers will be joined by their new teammate Pierre-Louis Loubet, who is competing his first WRC event of the season with the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 and new co-driver Loris Pascaud. “I am not totally new to Škoda. In 2019 I won the WRC2 championship with a Škoda Fabia, on the way taking WRC2 victory in Portugal,“ says Loubet. “I cannot wait to return to competition with the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, which has proven to be the most successful car in the category.” Loubet/Pascaud as well as Finnish crew Lauri Joona/Janni Hussi (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 of team TGS Worldwide) are among the candidates for a WRC2 top position at Rally Portugal.

The Portuguese WRC event kicks off late afternoon on Thursday (May 9th) with the starting ceremony in the city centre of Coimbra. The competitors then head to the opening Super Special Stage in Figueira da Foz. On Friday (May 10th) the rally visits the region around Arganil. A total of eight special stages over a distance of around 127 kilometres have to be driven. Saturday (May 11th) offers nine special stages over more than 145 kilometres and a mix of sandy tracks and rough passages, especially for the repeat run. The right choice of tires will be key to success. Softer compounds promise more traction on sandy surfaces, harder tires guarantee less wear on longer tests. On Sunday (May 12th) the special stages in the Fafe area including the famous jump are one of the highlights of the event.

All in all, the teams have to tackle 22 stages over a distance of 337.04 kilometres in the battle against the clock before the winner crosses the finish line in Matosinhos near Porto at around 2h25 pm on Sunday.

Did you know, that…

…the Škoda Fabia Rally2 – back then called R5 – made its FIA World Rally Championship debut at Rally Portugal 2015?
...Rally Portugal was first held in 1967 and in 1973 was one of the founding events of the then new World Rally Championship?
...until 1994 the rally started in Estoril close to Lisbon and the first leg was held on tarmac, before it became an all gravel-event?
...that from 2007 to 2014 the rally was held in the Algarve region before moving back to the north?
...that in 2012 world champion to be Sebastién Ogier won his class with a Škoda Fabia S2000 and finished an impressive 7th overall?

Standings WRC2/Drivers (after 4 of 13 events)
1 Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën, 43 points
2 Oliver Solberg (SWE), Škoda, 43 points
3 Nikolay Gryazin (BUL), Citroën, 40 points
4 Nicolas Ciamin (FRA), Hyundai, 36 Points
5 Pepe López (ESP), Škoda, 33 points

Standings WRC2/Teams (after 4 of 13 events)
1 AEC – DG Sport Competition, Citroën, 86 points
2 Toksport WRT, Škoda, 70 points
3 Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG, Toyota, 61 points

2024 FIA World Rally Championship

Rallye Monte-Carlo  25-28 January
Rally Sweden 15-18 February
Safari Rally Kenya  28-31 March
Croatia Rally 18-21 April
Rally de Portugal 9-12 May
Rally Italia Sardegna 30 May-2 June
Rally Poland 27-30 June
Rally Latvia 18-21 July
Rally Finland 1-4 August
Acropolis Rally Greece 5-8 September
Rally Chile 26-29 September
Central European Rally (CZE/AUT/DEU) 31 October – 3 November
Rally Japan  21-24 November