Portugal WRC: Sordo leads Hyundai 1-2-3 after morning loop

Hyundai holds a 1-2-3 after the opening three stages on Rally Portugal, with Dani Sordo leading the charge in the Korean manufacturer's third entry.

Portugal WRC: Sordo leads Hyundai 1-2-3 after morning loop

Spanish star Sordo capitalised on an advantageous road position, with the stages having been swept clean by eight cars before him, to take the early lead in Hyundai’s third entry. The team’s two full-time drivers, Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville, hold second and third respectively.

As the opening gravel rally of the season, Portugal also marks the first time that the field has taken to the loose surface on tyres from the WRC’s new tyre supplier, Pirelli.

All of the crews set off with four soft tyres bolted on and one hard compound in the boot to be rotated as the stages played out, with the majority of drivers hoping that the prevailing cloud might unleash a little rain on proceedings.

Chief among them was Toyota’s championship leader Sebastien Ogier who, running first on the road, is obliged to contend with the least favourable conditions.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Although there was some moisture and fog early in the morning, it was insufficient to help the seven-time champion and he currently languishes in eighth position at the first service halt, 31 seconds off Sordo’s pace.

Britain’s Elfyn Evans heads the charge for Toyota in fourth place, 17.6s off Sordo’s pace, with his Japanese team-mate Takamoto Katsuta 1.4s behind him.

In a strong morning for the Ford Fiestas of M-Sport, Gus Greensmith posted equal third fastest time on the opening 12km test of the day but fell back after suffering a puncture that removed much of the rear bodywork of his car on the third stage.

Greensmith’s rookie team-mate Adrien Fourmaux, in his second career WRC start and his first on gravel, was well placed to take up the running for the Cumbrian squad, however. Fourmaux holds sixth place at the end of the first loop, ahead of the Toyotas of Kalle Rovanpera and Ogier.

Rally leader Sordo was thoroughly enjoying his day at the top of the timesheets, having struggled to make an impact on his previous outing on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

Since then he has parted company with longtime co-driver Carlos del Barrio and been joined by 40-year-old Borja Rozada, who has competed in recent years alongside Pepe Lopez in the Spanish national gravel rally championship.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

Sordo was the only runner among the Hyundais not to use his spare hard compound tyre, feeling that he was able to conserve the life of his soft rubber without a detrimental effect on his pace.

“It was good, the car is working very well and now with the co-driver much better than the first stage it’s difficult also for him, first time and all,” Sord said.

“I try to not push so much because of the tyres. I don’t know what we need to use again. (When) the tyres are okay we push, when they are finished we see what we do!”

Two drivers have gone missing from the WRC2 ranks thanks to positive Covid tests, with championship leader Andreas Mikkelsen pulling out in the days before the rally and Ole-Christian Veiby being forced to withdraw after shakedown.

Read Also:

The category has still provided an engaging early lead battle between Esapekka Lappi’s VW Polo and the Citroen C3 of Mads Ostberg, although this was truncated after Ostberg suffered a puncture on Stage 3, promoting the VW of Russian talent Nikolai Grazin to second place and M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen to third.

Emil Lindholm leads WRC3 in his Skoda Fabia, with Britain’s Chris Ingram second in his similar car 7.9s behind, with Kajetan Kajetanowicz third in another Fabia.

A total of eight stages will be run into the evening on this first day of the rally, with 20 timed tests to be completed by the finish on Sunday afternoon.

shares
comments

Related video

M-Sport confident of landing a driver capable of winning for 2022 WRC
Previous article

M-Sport confident of landing a driver capable of winning for 2022 WRC

Next article

WRC's hybrid systems can't be used for performance advantage

WRC's hybrid systems can't be used for performance advantage
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Plus

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Autosport was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Plus

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Autosport went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022