Ogier fastest in Portugal shakedown
|By David Evans||Wednesday, March 23rd 2011, 20:00 GMT|
Last year's Rally Portugal winner Sebastien Ogier continued where he left off on the 2010 event - by topping this evening's shakedown stage.
The Citroen driver collected his maiden World Rally Championship victory on the event last May and then set the fastest time around the three-mile shakedown test, which is being run tonight to make way for an opening stage in the nation's capital city Lisbon tomorrow.
Ogier was one tenth of a second faster than his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb, with top Ford man Jari-Matti Latvala two tenths of a second down on the world champion.
"Everything was okay, we made no major changes to the car, just some small details. I'm happy," said Ogier.
Norwegian privateers Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) and Mads Ostberg (Stobart Ford) were fourth and fifth fastest, with the latter especially happy with his pre-event test.
"The test and shakedown have gone really well for us," he said. "I have good confidence with the car at the moment. We made some changes to the car set-up at pre-event and we have continued with this work at shakedown. It's good, we're ready to start the rally now."
All eyes were on the newest rally car in the world at shakedown this evening, with Armindo Araujo and Daniel Oliveira running the Mini John Cooper Works S2000 for the first time. Oliveira blotted his copybook by going off the road briefly on his first quick run. Araujo was the faster of the two Prodrive-built machines, posting a time 10.4s down on Ogier's benchmark.
The shakedown stage was stopped briefly when Ken Block crashed his Fiesta RS WRC heavily. The American and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino have been taken to hospital for a check-up. The Monster Ford is reported to be destroyed after rolling five times.