Rally de Portugal Kicks Off with Hotly Contested Early Stages

After a nearly month-long break, Volkswagen Motorsports’ three Polo R WRCs are back in action at the famous Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Although they have big hopes, they’ve started with a disadvantage.

With the activities starting last night, Volkswagen has looked quick, but not dominant. After the opening stage, Sebastien Ogier led the rally, but his time on top didn’t last long.

This morning, he was overtaken by Citroen’s Kris Meeke (who you might remember from his two appearances on Top Gear). As we go to press, eight stages have been run and Meeke leads the rally from Ogier by about 30 seconds, and he’s followed by Sordo and Mikkelsen, the next Volkswagen driver.

Despite not being on top, Volkswagen still have high hopes for this rally. Portugal is the course on which Ogier has won the most, and last year his teammate Latvala (currently in 9th) won the rally. That win started Volkswagen Motorsport on the their record-setting 12 win streak.

The Portuguese rally is the fifth stop on the WRC calendar, and the first European gravel rally. It’s also a somewhat special rally, because of its long history. Deep ruts, sandy roads, and a massive jump make finding grip difficult here, so tire selection will be important this weekend.

The festivities started last night, with a super special stage at the Lousada rallycross circuit. That’s followed by 19 regular stages, until the last one on Sunday.