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WRC Andreas Mikkelsen leads massive WRC2 field in Portugal

MEDIA INFORMATION


For immediate release
Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

MIKKELSEN LEADS MASSIVE WRC2 FIELD IN PORTUGAL

MATOSINHOS (PORTUGAL): The main spotlight may be on the return to action of both Sëbastien Ogier and Sëbastien Loeb and the latest crop of 12 hybrid Rally1 vehicles taking part on their first gravel event at this weekend’s 55th Vodafone Rally of Portugal, but that will not detract from what promises to be a fascinating tussle for supremacy in the supporting FIA WRC2 Championship.

Forty-one WRC2 cars feature on a staggering Portuguese entry list and defending champion and current series leader Andreas Mikkelsen tops the star-studded entry in his Toksport WRT Škoda Fabia Evo.

The Norwegian, who missed last year’s event in Portugal after testing positive for Covid-19, currently holds a 15-point cushion over Frenchman Yohan Rossel heading into the 21 demanding stages that make the Rally of Portugal such a popular and difficult challenge. Rossel claimed his first WRC2 success last time out in Croatia after winning the 2021 WRC3 title.

Main competition for Mikkelsen is likely to come from his Toksport team-mates, Marco Bulacia and Nikolay Gryazin, the Hyundai Motorsport N team duo of flying Finn Teemu Suninen and Oliver Solberg and rival Rossel in his customary PH Sport Citroën C3.

But there is considerable strength in depth down the truly international field, with Great Britain’s Chris Ingram and Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz wheeling out a pair of Škoda Fabia Evos, talented Frenchman Eric Camilli representing the Saintèloc Junior Team and Jan Solans and Stèphane Lefebvre also driving Citroën C3s.

Czech driver Erik Cais currently holds a single-point cushion in the Junior section for drivers 30-year-old or younger. Drivers can count their best six scores from seven starts. Gryazin and Finland’s Emil Lindholm are Cais’s closest challengers, with Estonia’s Georg Linnamäe and Ingram rounding off the top five.

Portuguese drivers have an excellent opportunity to shine on home gravel and 11 national teams are entered in WRC2. Leading the local challenge is 2009 and 2010 PWRC winner Armindo Araújo at the wheel of a Škoda Fabia Evo. The 44-year-old won the Rally of Portugal on three occasions (2003, 2004 and 2006) when it was not a round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Also representing the host nation at the sharp end of the WRC2 field are Bruno Magalhães, defending national champion Ricardo Teodósio and Pedro Meireles in a trio of Hyundai i20 N Rally2s, José Pedro Fontes (Citroën C3), and Pedro Almeida (Škoda).

German veteran Armin Kremer (Škoda) and Czech Martin Prokop (Ford) add that extra level of experience to the category, the latter making a return to the WRC from recent exploits in cross-country rallying.

Pajari leads the way in WRC3; Joona and Armstrong tied in Juniors

Seven crews feature on the FIA WRC3 list and all of them are eligible for the Junior category.

Finland’s reigning FIA Junior WRC champion Sami Pajari currently leads the overall championship, courtesy of a win in Monte-Carlo and fourth place in Sweden. He holds a four-point cushion over Italy’s Enrico Brazzoli, with Ireland’s William Creighton three points further adrift in the standings.

The FIA Junior WRC celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. Portugal has been included in the series since 2007 and will test the WRC’s latest crop of drivers to the limit.

Both Lauri Joona and Jon Armstrong are tied at the top of the five-event Junior Championship after two rounds. The Finn was second in Sweden and claimed the win in Croatia, while his rival finished first and fourth at the opening two rounds but claimed the maximum five Power Stage bonus points on both events.

Robert Virves, Creighton and Pajeri round off the top five heading into this weekend’s action, which will also see Kenya’s McRae Kimathi and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Franceschi compete alongside Armstrong, Creighton, Pajari, Virves and Joona in a septet of Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars run by M-Sport Poland.

Wednesday

Tomorrow is the second day of stage reconnaissance for competitors and technical scrutineering for all entrants at Exponor in Matosinhos.

There will also be a press conference in the media centre to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the FIA World Rally Championship, in the presence of several past world champions.

Heavy fell in the area on Monday and this morning (Tuesday) but the weather forecast for the coming days is for drier and warmer conditions and a high of 26°C predicted for Saturday,

2022 FIA WRC2 Championship – positions after round 3:
1. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 51pts
2. Yohan Rossel (FRA) 36pts
3. Nikolay Gryazin (RUS) 27pts
4. Erik Cais (CZE) 22pts
5. Emil Lindholm (FIN) 21pts
6. Ole-Christian Veiby (NOR) 18pts
6. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL) 18pts
8. Chris Ingram (GBR) 16pts
9. Jari Huttunen (FIN) 15pts
10. Grégoire Munster (BEL) 13pts, etc

2022 FIA WRC2 Junior Championship – positions after round 3:
1. Erik Cais (CZE) 37pts
2. Nikolay Gryazin (RUS) 36pts
3. Emil Lindholm (FIN) 33pts
4. Georg Linnamäe (EST) 28pts
5. Chris Ingram (GBR) 27pts, etc

2022 FIA WRC3 Championship – positions after round 3:
1. Sami Pajari (FIN) 37pts
2. Enrico Brazzoli (ITA) 33pts
3. William Creighton (IRL) 30pts
4. Zoltán László (HUN) 25pts
4. Lauri Joona (FIN) 25pts, etc

2021 FIA Junior WRC Championship – positions after round 2:
1. Lauri Joona (FIN) 47pts
1. Jon Armstrong (GBR) 47pts
3. Robert Virves (EST) 29pts
4. William Creighton (IRL) 27pts
5. Sami Pajari (FIN) 25pts, etc

Ends

For further media information:
Marco Barbosa, National Rally Press Officer, email: marcobarbosa@atelierdocaractere.pt, Filipe Santos, email: filipesantos@atelierdocaractere.pt and Lluisa Torras, International Media Relations, email: lluisa.torras@acp.pt, Mobile: +34 629 924073.

www.wrc.com
www.rallydeportugal.pt
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Date issued: 17/05/2022

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