Jari-Matti Latvala crashes while leading the Rally of Portugal
|Friday, March 30th 2012, 11:55 GMT|
Jari-Matti Latvala has crashed out of the Rally of Portugal lead on the first Friday stage.
Substantial overnight rain made the opening Tavira stage incredibly treacherous, with a large number of cars stopping on the stage.
Leg one leader Latvala was one of them, putting his Ford off the road near the finish. It is not yet clear whether he will be able to rejoin, with Ford reporting that the car is undamaged, but stuck off the road with no spectators around to assist. The incident is Latvala's third in four rallies this year.
Latvala's exit put his Ford team-mate Petter Solberg into the lead, despite the Norwegian also having a trip off course. Solberg is 25 seconds clear of second-placed Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen), who admitted he was over-cautious in a section of the stage littered with crashed cars.
Others to stop on the stage were overnight fourth and fifth-placed men Ott Tanak (M-Sport Ford) and Thierry Neuville (Citroen Junior), Volkswagen Skoda S2000 driver Sebastien Ogier, and S2000 class leaders Hayden Paddon and Craig Breen.
Dani Sordo - running first on the road after stopping with electrical problems last night - was quickest on the stage by nearly a minute in his Prodrive Mini, with Czech Ford driver Martin Prokop a shock second.