Ott Tänak lies in third place at this weekend's Rally de Portugal, following Thursday's opening stage.
Tänak goes into round five of the 2023 season in fourth place in the driver's table, and heralded Portugal as the point at which things get even more interesting as the gravel races arrive.
"There will definitely be a fight, there's no question about that. A gravel rally is a tough challenge for us," he said after Thursday's stage. "It remains to be seen how far we will get on, but we definitely have to work hard," he went on.
Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja finished third in the opening stage in the M-Sport Ford Puma, behind Welshman Elfyn Evans (Toyota) and Finn Esapekka Lappi (Hyundai), meaning all three constructors who compete at the top WRC level were represented in the top three.
The venue, in the vicinity of Porto, in the North of the country, holds a special place in the Estonian's heart in that it was where he won his maiden WRC victory back in 2009, winning again a decade later. Since then, however, Tänak has not made the podium in Portugal, finishing sixth for Hyundai last season.
Dry weather is forecast for the weekend, meaning the first starters of each stage, in stage two, Evans, will act as track cleaners for those following
The event offers variety, including sandier stages and some technical, snaking tracks, and is well-attended by fans.
2022 and reigning champion Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) won in Portugal last year.
Eight-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier (France, Toyota) ties with Elfyn Evans for first place in the drivers' table, going into Rally de Portugal, with Rovanperä just one point behind. Tänak is fourth, on 65 points.
Competing in the second-tier WRC2 category are several other Estonians – Robert Vires in the Ford Fiesta, Georg Linnamäe in the Hyundai i20 and Gregor Jeets, with Estonian co-driver Timo Taniel, also in a Hyndai.
Also from Estonia, Ralf Nõgene and co-driver Aleks Lesk are competing in the Rally4 category in the Peugeot 208.
M-Sport Ford are currently in third place in the manufacturer's table on 108 points so far, behind Toyota (161 points) and Hyundai (132).
Friday's stages get underway a little after 11.00 a.m. Estonian time. Readers with Estonian can follow ERR Sport portal's live-blog here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte