Gravel season “definitely” an opportunity for Tanak to ignite WRC title bid

The Hyundai driver heads to Portugal this week — which marks the start of the WRC’s traditional gravel season — sitting fourth in the championship and 33 points adrift of championship leader and team-mate Thierry Neuville.

After uncharacteristic errors in Monte Carlo and Sweden, Tanak showed signs of his pace in Kenya before an unfortunate crash from second position. Despite struggling with the balance of his i20 N in Croatia last month, Tanak picked up his biggest points haul of the season, claiming 20 points from the new scoring system after finishing fourth overall.

But a move to gravel is seen as a chance for Tanak to show his potential having scored 12 of his 19 WRC wins on the surface, starring behind the wheel of the i20 N back in 2022.

“It is definitely the opportunity now [to score points] and I really hope that we find a good feeling in the car, and obviously we haven’t been driving on gravel for a long time,” Tanak told

“Safari was very specific but basically the test will be our first feeling on gravel and hopefully we can make it work and be competitive in Portugal.

“Like I said Safari is very unique and very rough, so the cars are quite different when we go to Portugal, so let’s see how we compare.”

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Tanak should also benefit from the road order, starting fourth while Neuville will likely face the worst of the conditions acting as road sweeper. The Belgian is hoping for rain to ease the pain of road-cleaning but is expecting a tough weekend.

Watch: Vodafone Rally de Portugal Trailer

“I’m happy to still be in the lead at least keep our advantage because there is no secret that from Portugal on it is going to be tough for us with several gravel rallies in a row,” Neuville told

“Other than really heavy rain and lots of difficult circumstances, it will be tough for us to score many points at least on Friday and Saturday, maybe on Sunday we could be a bit better if we have a better road position.

“In Portugal we are leading the championship and opening the road. We have Kalle [Rovanpera] in seventh on the road [Sebastien] Ogier in fifth and Tanak fourth, so what can you do.

“The car has improved a lot, but we still have some work left. The Toyotas are very quick at such events, but like always we keep trying.”

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