Rally de Portugal and Rally Italia Sardegna: Preview
Two gravel rallies in the south of Europe await the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team as the 2019 season passes the halfway stage. Round seven in Portugal takes place on May 30-June 2, quickly followed by round eight on the Italian island of Sardinia on June 13-16. Together, the two events provide the last opportunity for the team and its drivers Ott Tanak, Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke to add to their points tallies prior to the championship’s summer break. After taking his second win of the season last time out in Chile, Tanak leads the team’s charge in second place in the drivers’ standings, only 10 points away from the top.
Rally de Portugal is characterised by fast but technical roads on a sandy gravel surface. This usually offers limited grip for those running first on the road for the opening passes of stages, and then becomes rocky and rutted for the second pass. The event will again be based in Matosinhos in the outskirts of Porto, but travels south to Coimbra for Thursday’s ceremonial start before Friday’s action around nearby Arganil: an area last visited by the WRC in 2001. Two loops of three stages will be tackled without a mid-day service, and there’s also a super special stage at Lousada to round out the day.
The remainder of the rally will be more familiar to the crews: Saturday has three stages each run twice, two of them in the Cabreira mountains, before five stages in total on Sunday around Fafe, including two passes of the famous stage of the same name and its big jump towards the finish.
Rally Italia Sardegna is made up of quick, narrow stages with a fine sandy surface that gets swept away by each passing car to leave a rockier, rutted road. Exposed rocks and trees at the side of the road can catch out the unwary, while temperatures can often be very high. The rally will be once more based in Alghero, with a Thursday evening super special stage at the nearby Ittiri motocross track kicking off the action.
The intinerary is very similar to the 2018 event, with only minor differences. Friday features four stages to the north-east, all driven twice, while Saturady’s stages are the furthest east, with two loops of three stages including Monte Lerno, home to the famous Micky’s Jump. Sunday takes place on the cost north of Alghero with a pair of repeated stages.
As was the case with the two previous rallies in Argentina and Chile, the close proximity of the events in Portugal and Sardinia means they are defined as ‘linked rallies’ by the regulations. This states that for cars classified in the final stage in Portugal, the same chassis, engine and transmissions (including spare transmissions) must also be used in Sardinia.
Tommi Makinen (Team Principal)
What happened last year?
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is inspired by the motto: “ALL FOR WIN” as it competes throughout the 2019 season. Our goal in 2019 is to fight for all three crowns. All team members are aiming for this big goal together. We look forward to your continuous support!