Rally Portugal: Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville share early lead

Ford privateer Mads Ostberg and Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville share the overnight Rally of Portugal lead after the opening superspecial

Rally Portugal: Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville share early lead

The pair set identical 2m36.6s times around the Lousada rallycross venue that was used to kick off round six of the 2017 World Rally Championship on Thursday evening.

Just 0.7 seconds covered the top six after Lousada.

All three Hyundais are in the top five, with Hayden Paddon third and Dani Sordo fifth, sandwiching Elfyn Evans's DMACK Ford.

Championship leader Sebastien Ogier completes the initial top six ahead of the leading Toyota of Jari-Matti Latvala, while Kris Meeke was only 11th but within two seconds of the front.

The World Rally Car entry for this round is bolstered by Citroen adding a fourth 2017 C3 for the first time for team regular Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Toyota's third Yaris for Esapekka Lappi arriving. They were 18th and 13th respectively at Lousada.

Martin Prokop is also making his first WRC appearance of 2017 in Portugal, albeit still using his '16 Ford - which is now running on DMACKs - and began with the 16th-fastest time.

With his hopes of returning to the top class having been dashed despite extensive talks with multiple teams and even a test with Hyundai, Andreas Mikkelsen resumed WRC2 duty with Skoda and leads the class overnight by 1.6s over M-Sport's Teemu Suninen.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS1:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 2m36.6s
1 Mads Ostberg, O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 2m36.6s
3 Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 0.1s
4 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 0.4s
5 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 0.5s
6 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 0.7s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 1.5s
7 Stephane Lefebvre, G.Moreau Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 1.5s
9 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 1.8s
10 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 2.0s


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