Does Ogier have the advantage over Loeb in Portugal?

Both Sebastiens are back in action and ready to pick up where they left off in the French Alps. In January, it was M-Sport Ford star Loeb who took the top honors, but the odds seem to be more in favor of his Toyota GR Yaris Rally rival on the west coast of Europe.

Loeb is of course no stranger to success in Portugal, but his victories have come in the south of the country, when the rally was based in Faro rather than Matosinhos. He has significantly less experience than Ogier on the world-famous roads in the Porto region. In fact, he has only started Rally Portugal six times compared to Ogier’s dozen appearances.

Additionally, the nine-time champion will run fourth on the road on Opening Day next week. If the weather remains warm, Loeb will participate in a road cleaning process that will help Ogier, whose Toyota is four cars further.

Top 5 reasons to watch the Vodafone Rally de Portugal

But it’s still Sébastien Loeb. When he landed in Monte Carlo with just a few days between the end of the Dakar and the start of the WRC season, he had little hope of fighting for victory in the mountains he had made his own. . The fact that he is entering his first-ever WRC round without Daniel Elena and with Isabelle Galmiche alongside him has fueled speculation that a top-six finish would be a good result.

Instead, they started and stayed strong to claim a famous win.

Loeb’s experience is as vast as his pace is potentially winning in rallying, but Ogier is looking to hold the aces here. He has already celebrated victory at Matosinhos and has much more recent and relevant experience.

Loeb won on his first outing for M-Sport Ford, returning to Monte-Carlo in January

The main thing is that they are both in town. An Ogier-Loeb scrapbook always adds a needle to an event. The couple have a history and, although they are friends, they are still very determined to get on top of each other. And the rest of the field.

As if Portugal wasn’t going to be exciting enough, with a 21-year-old Finn flying the Toyota Gazoo Racing flag topping the table and the best of the rest chasing the cool Kalle Rovanperä.

The WRC gravel season is fast approaching and the stage is set for a Portuguese thriller.

• Full coverage of Vodafone Rally de Portugal will be available on WRC+ All Live hereincluding every stage broadcast as you go along with key interviews, reports and expert analysis from the service park

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