WRC - Tanak leads Rally Portugal after day of non-stop action

19.05.17

WRC - 2017 Rally de Portugal - Day 2 report

FIA, Motorsport, Rally de portugal, Rally, racing

After nine stages at the 2017 Rally Portugal, six drivers have held the rally lead and nine have claimed stage wins in a remarkable day of the FIA World Rally Championship.

It was the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC driver Ott Tanak that took the lead after consistent runs on SS5 (Viana do Castelo 2) and SS6 (Caminha 2).

At that point, the top eight crews were covered by just 8.9s, with Jari Matti Latvala trailing Tanak by just 0.1s, followed by Hayden Paddon, Craig Breen, Kris Meeke, Sébastien Ogier, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville.

However, SS7 (Ponte de Lima 2) would see chaos ensue, as three of the top five crews encountered major problems.

Firstly, second-placed Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT’s Latvala had a problem and rolled early in the stage. The Finn would limp to the end of the stage in road mode, losing almost five minutes in the process. Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville would also lose time in Latvala’s dust as he caught and passed the Yaris WRC in stage – he would later have his time corrected for the stage.

Then at 12 kilometres, Kris Meeke’s fifth-placed Citroën C3 WRC broke its suspension, leading to his retirement from the day.

Finally, it was third-placed New Zealander Hayden Paddon – who had just set two blistering split times to start the stage – that ground to a halt with a repeat of the electrical issue that saw his car shut down in SS3. This time, it would take a lot longer for Paddon to restart his i20 WRC, eventually losing almost 11 minutes.

After showing potential rally-winning pace, Paddon was philosophical. “The car just stopped again and we couldn’t start it. We did everything we could, checked every wire – then it started,” he said. “That’s our rally ruined now… We have to stay positive and make the most of the opportunity to test. I can’t buy any good luck at the moment.”

Following the drama of SS7, the surviving WRC crews enjoyed a relatively drama-free two runs through the amazingly tight 1.9-kilometre Braga Street Stage.

World Champion Sébastien Ogier took his first stage win on the first run on the city streets, before Mads Ostberg – who dropped significant time with a puncture in SS5 – was the winner of the day’s final stage, SS9.

Tanak would end the day on top of the standings, 4.3s ahead of the ever-consistent Hyundai of Dani Sordo, and 5.2s ahead of his M-Sport Ford team mate Sébastien Ogier. Thierry Neuville was the second placed Hyundai (+11.1s), while Craig Breen finished the day as the leading Citroën (+12.9s) in fifth, despite breaking a damper on SS7.

“I’m really happy with the day,” said Tanak at the end of SS9. “The car has been behaving well. “

Dani Sordo was also pleased with his Friday, “of course it’s good to finish like this. It’s very important for tomorrow’s road position. It’s been a good fight with everyone today.”

Sébastien Ogier had one eye on a better road position for the second day after spending today sweeping. “I’m happy with my day. I didn’t do any mistakes and I tried as hard as I could… It will be a different story tomorrow.”

Andreas Mikkelsen had a trouble-free day at the front of the WRC2 field, winning every stage and taking a stunning fifth outright on the 1.9-kilometre Braga Street Stage in his Skoda Fabia R5.

Mikkelsen ultimately established an impressive lead of 1m4.5s over Teemu Suninen in the Ford Fiesta R5 and his Skoda team mate Pontus Tidemand, just 2.3s further back.

In WRC3, Poland’s Jakub Brzezinski leads after seven stages in his Citroën DS3 R3T, 2m12.3s ahead of Frenchman Raphaël Astier’s Peugeot 208 R2.

END OF DAY – AFTER SS9:

  1. Ott TANAK                               Ford Fiesta WRC                                  1:37:18.5
  2. Dani SORDO                          Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC                +4.6
  3. Sébastien OGIER                Ford Fiesta WRC                                  +5.0
  4. Thierry NEUVILLE               Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC                +11.1
  5. Craig BREEN                           Citroën C3 WRC                                                      +12.9