WRC - Neuville heads a dramatic Rally de Portugal | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC - Neuville heads a dramatic Rally de Portugal


Rally de Portugal - Friday afternoon

Thierry Neuville heads the Rally de Portugal leaderboard after a dramatic afternoon that has seen no fewer than three of the top crews retire, numerous others hit problems and each long stage led by a different crew. The Belgian goes into Saturday’s stages with 17.7 seconds in hand to Elfyn Evans, who has climbed from eighth with Dani Sordo now in third.

Neuville went into the repeated tests fifth overall, 9.4 seconds adrift of the lead, but dropped to sixth in the opener when conditions were rougher than anticipated and caution proved to be the name of the game. He then climbed to fourth with a stage victory as Kris Meeke also suffered a puncture, and was then catapulted into the lead in the final long mountain stage with another fastest time, aided when all but one of the drivers in front of him hit problems. The Belgian also won the day's two closing super special stages. Evans, eighth going into the afternoon loop, has also been balancing speed with caution and after staying out of trouble this afternoon the Welshman has moved into a fine second. Sordo, leader going into the afternoon, struggled on soft tyres this afternoon but he too was able to capitalise when others hit trouble.

Fiesta WRC driver Teemu Suninen has made a few small mistakes but has climbed from ninth to fourth overnight, 11.4 seconds ahead of Esapekka Lappi. The Finnish Toyota driver has had a better afternoon after set-up changes but a broken damper made the closing stages of the day tricky. He is just 2.5 seconds ahead of Mads Østberg who has also had a better feeling in the C3 WRC during the repeated stages. 

Kris Meeke suffered two tyre issues this afternoon and dropped from an early afternoon lead to seventh after the final two super special stages, another disappointing outing for the Northern Irishman who continues to suffer bad luck. Craig Breen has fallen much further back after stopping to change a puncture in the final long stage and is eighth, over two minutes off the lead. Gus Greensmith and Lukasz Pieniazek round out the top 10, the pair also heading the FIA WRC 2 Championship category.

Three of the leading crews retired this afternoon, such has been the rate of attrition on one of the roughest events this year. After a sensational drive to fourth despite running first on the road, Sebastien Ogier hit a small tree stump in a bank and the sharp impact broke the steering. Andreas Mikkelsen had power steering problems and was ultimately forced out in the final mountain stage with a loss of engine oil pressure, and Hayden Paddon retired after a heavy impact in a ditch. The crew was unscathed although the Kiwi was taken to hospital for precautionary checks.

The FIA Junior and WRC 3 Championships are now being led by Dennis Rådström who has taken the advantage from Emil Bergkvist. The battle is however intense with just five seconds separating the pair.

Rally de Portugal – Unofficial results after Section 3


Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

1hr 37min 30.7sec


Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta WRC

1hr 37min 48.4sec


Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio

Hyundai i20 Couple WRC

1hr 37min 55.0sec


Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula

Ford Fiesta WRC

1hr 38min 05.1sec


Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm

Toyota Yaris WRC

1hr 38min 16.5sec


Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen

Citroen C3 WRC

1hr 38min 19.0sec


Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle

Citroen C3 WRC

1hr 38min 49.4sec


Craig Breen / Scott Martin

Citroen C3 WRC

1hr 39min 58.0sec


Gus Greensmith / Craig Parry

Ford Fiesta R5

1hr 44min 27.8sec


Lukasz Pieniazek / Przemyslaw Mazur

Škoda Fabia R5

1hr 45min 02.1sec