The Portugal Rally is a test of nuances and surprises. Therefore and after a loop of the morning very ‘quiet’ and with only a few differences between the names of the WRC, the storm had to arise. And what has been done in the second pass through ‘Ponte de Lima’, a special who has claimed the illusions and hopes of a good number of crews. All in all, Ott Tanak is the new leader in Portugal, although his advantage over Dani Sordo is only 4.6 seconds. A minimum distance that reflects the reality of a rally by the still bid up to six riders.
The loop evening started with a mounted tire full of nuances. The various combinations of soft and hard tyres left the first differences between Dani Sordo and his fellow or between the pilots of M-Sport, Citroën and Toyota. In the end, this dance of gums left to Hayden Paddon as the fastest in SS5, a stretch in which Dani Sordo was second. With the third fastest time of the special stage, Kris Meeke was struck by the leadership of Jari-Matti Latvala. In this case, the factor of cleaning is made more palpable and the own Latvala, as well as Ogier and Neuville, struggled to keep the pace.
The first assault of the evening seemed to portend everything that was going to happen afterwards. Thierry Neuville was the scratch in the SS6 and Ott Tanak was placed at the front of the Rally of Portugal in yet another change of leader of the test. The dance of positions natural to the differences as short present did not conceal the first issue of the loop. Esapekka Lappi fell off the top ten after losing pace by the damage to the Intercooler by the impact of a stone. A bad almost less according to what you would see in the next section, where all the manufacturers were given a ration of reality.
The last stretch before the special urban Braga became a drama. Jari-Matti Latvala was the first to fall after suffering a rollover and damage to the esscape, which obliged him to terminate the SS7 in ‘link mode’, in a jogging slow affecting the performance of Thierry Neuville, who had to ride several miles behind the Toyota Yaris WRC. The finn was complaining about in the goal of a problem with the brakes. electrical Problems in nature with intermittent charging options of Hayden Paddon, while Kris Meeke with the suspension broken and a puncture had to leave.
With four riders out of the game, to which is added Mads Ostberg after two punctures, the battle for the rally acquired a new dimension. Ortt Tanak is taken up with the leadership in ‘Ponte de Lima’ despite the scratch of Dani Sordo, who was 2.6 seconds faster than Sébastien Ogier in the stage that has been erected as definitory in the first day. Without changes in the two passes through the special urban district of Braga, Ott Tanak managed to ensure its leadership at the end of the day, showing an advantage of 4.6 seconds on the Hyundai i20 WRC of Dani Sordo.
Even more satisfied than the first two teams closed the day Sebastien Ogier, as the frenchman managed to save with note the fact of open track. Ogier is 5.0 seconds from Tanak and has everything in his hand to fight for the victory. With this goal there is also the belgian Thierry Neuville, who has only 11.1 seconds lost compared to Tanak. Even Craig Breen and Elfyn Evans, with a profile more discreet throughout the day, they are kept in a realistic distance to fight for the win. do Not have this option Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi, which should settle the fight between them.
Classification after SS9 of the 51st Rally of Portugal
|Position||Pilot||Vehicle||Time / Difference|
|1||Ott Tanak||Ford Fiesta RS WRC ’17||1:37:18.5|
|2nd||Dani Sordo||Hyundai i20 WRC Coupe||+4.6|
|3rd||Sébastien Ogier||Ford Fiesta RS WRC ’17||+5.0|
|4th||Craig Breen||Citroen C3 WRC||+12.9|
|5th||Elfyn Evans||Ford Fiesta RS WRC ’17||+18.3|
|6th||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai i20 WRC Coupe||+22.7|
|7th||Juho Hänninen||Toyota Yaris WRC||+52.0|
|8th||Esapekka Lappi||Toyota Yaris WRC||+1:12.3|
|9th||Andreas Mikkelsen||Skoda Fabia R5||+3:17.8|
|10th||Mads Ostberg||Ford Fiesta RS WRC ’17||+3:50.0|
The Rally of Portugal will continue on Saturday (10:08h) with the dispute of the second stage. The riders will face two loop symmetrical, of three bays with a total of 154,56 miles conometrados.