Portugal entries: 13 WRC cars, 4 classes, 1 F1 star…

Thirteen World Rally Cars will head the entry for Vodafone Rally de Portugal, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship, which takes place from 11-14 April.Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo top the list as DS3 drivers for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. Portugal is not one of the handful of rallies that their team-mate, and reigning World Champion, Sebastien Loeb will contest in his retirement season.After missing the last round in Mexico, Khalid Al Qassimi returns to the French firm’s line-up, driving a DS3 for the Abu Dhabi squad.
Volkswagen Motorsport has entered cars for championship leader Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. They will be joined, for the first time this season, by Andreas Mikkelsen, who will drive a third works team Polo R.
Last year’s Portugal winner Mads Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov are the points nominated drivers for the Qatar M-Sport World Rally team, while Nasser Al-Attiyah, Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen will represent the Qatar World Rally Team. Martin Prokop will also drive a Fiesta RS for his Jipocar Czech National Team.
Michal Kosciuszko completes the WRC runners in his Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works.
Rally Portugal is the first rally this year to feature a full programme from the WRC support championships.
The WRC 2 entry features championship leader, Sepp Wiegand and rising star Esapekka Lappi, both in Skoda Fabia S2000s, and Subaru driver Yuriy Protasov who is second in the standings. Rally Mexico class winner Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari returns in his Fiesta RRC and is likely to face some tough competition from last year’s FIA WRC Academy Winner, Elfyn Evans who will be at the wheel of an identical Fiesta RRC – part of his prize for winning the championship.
Topping the entries – in terms of fame – is F1 star Robert Kubica, who will make his WRC debut in a Citroen DS3 RRC.
A packed WRC 3 field is dominated by nine Citroen DS3 crews, all competing in the French firms ‘Citroen Top Driver’ scheme. Topping the entries is the class winner on the opening round in Monte-Carlo, Sebastien Chardonnet.
Portugal also marks the start of the FIA’s Junior WRC Championship. The opening round has attracted a strong field of 10 drivers who will do battle in identical Ford Fiesta R2s.