Ott Tanak leads WRC Rally Portugal Toyota 1-2-3 after Sordo drama

Toyota World Rally Championship driver Ott Tanak leads team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke after the opening morning of Rally Portugal, as drama befell early leader Dani Sordo

Ott Tanak leads WRC Rally Portugal Toyota 1-2-3 after Sordo drama

Hyundai's Sordo was 4.2 seconds faster than Tanak's Toyota on the opening Lousa stage, with both M-Sport's Teemu Suninen and Tanak's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala within 0.6s of the leading time.

Tanak immediately responded on the following Gois test, clawing 3.9s back from Sordo to trim the Hyundai's lead to just 0.5s.

But the battle was defused when Sordo's Hyundai slowed immediately on stage three.

Sordo was visibly frustrated when the Hyundai lost power and stopped several times with what has been confirmed as a fuel-related problem.

Latvala lost a little ground on stage three Arganil to end the morning 6.9s shy of Tanak, confessing his team-mate's driving had been "amazing" given he was second in the road order.

Meeke completes the Toyota lock-out of the top three positions, but he suffered a scare in stage two when the intercom in his Toyota Yaris WRC failed, forcing co-driver Sebastian Marshall to use hand signals instead.

The Toyota driver is only 14s away from the lead.

M-Sport's Suninen is fourth after setting the third-fastest time on the opening stage which was 3s behind Meeke.

Suninen's team-mate Elfyn Evans completed the morning fifth and is 21.7s down on the rally leader after hurrying away from stage ends.

Championship leader Ogier lost time throughout the morning as the first car into the stages, sweeping the loose gravel clear for his pursuing rivals.

The Citroen driver lost 23.1s to Tanak across the morning loop, but the defending champion's clean drive places him sixth.

On his first rally since his big accident in Chile earlier this month, Thierry Neuville could only manage ninth overall after a troubled morning.

He admitted he was "too careful" on the opening stage before stalling at a junction and losing several seconds as he tried to restart his i20.

Neuville responded strongly on stage three to closing to within 0.5s of Ogier for seventh overall.

Citroen's Esapekka Lappi had enjoyed a strong start to his rally, running sixth after the opening two stages.

But Lappi picked up a front-left puncture on the final stage of the morning, losing 1m14s and falling to ninth on the leaderboard.

Sebastien Loeb, who has replaced Andreas Mikkelsen in the Hyundai line-up for Portugal, had been lying ninth overall behind Ogier after the first two stages but came to a stop early on stage three in a similar fashion to Sordo.

The nine-time champion slowed to a halt mid-stage and began pumping his accelerator as he tried to troubleshoot the issue.

He crawled to the end of the stage but lost 15 minutes.

Loeb's issues elevated Gus Greensmith up to eighth on his World Rally car debut for M-Sport.

WRC2 Pro leader Kalle Rovanpera completes the top 10 in his Skoda Fabia R5.

Leading positions after SS3

Pos Driver Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota 30m30.8s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota 6.9s
3 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota 14.0s
4 Teemu Suninen, M.Salminen Ford 17.0s
5 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin Ford 21.7s
6 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Citroen 23.1s
7 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai 23.6s
8 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson Ford 40.3s
9 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen 1m15.1s
10 Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Skoda 1m28.3s

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