WRC Portugal: Kris Meeke leads into Saturday by half a minute

Kris Meeke continues to lead the Rally of Portugal ahead of World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier, after the stewards awarded Meeke a stage win following Hayden Paddon's fiery incident

WRC Portugal: Kris Meeke leads into Saturday by half a minute

Paddon went off on the second running of the Ponte de Lima stage, with his Hyundai i20 causing a fire.

That incident forced the stage to be neutralised, and prevented leader Meeke from setting a competitive time - leaving the overall order uncertain for most of the afternoon.

The stewards later reviewed the stage and handed Meeke victory by 5.2 seconds over Hyundai's Dani Sordo.

The decision means that the Northern Irishman extends the lead he took over Ogier from the morning's loop to 31.9s.

VIDEO: PADDON'S CRASH CAUSES FIRE

Sordo was second for most of the afternoon, with the Spaniard's choice of harder tyres giving a pace advantage over Ogier.

Then a puncture on Viana do Castelo meant Sordo fell away, promoting his Volkswagen rival back into second.

Even with the puncture, Sordo was able to hold onto third ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen.

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville recovered from a difficult start in the morning to hold a strong fifth place.

Stephane Lefebvre was also impressive on the afternoon loop, as he returned to the WRC for the first time since Rally Sweden, to hold sixth overall.

Mads Ostberg heads Eric Camilli in a close battle for seventh, with the M-Sport team-mates split by just 3.7s.

Jari-Matti Latvala's woes continued from Rally Argentina, with a power steering issue ending his chances of a good result.

Having had to physically battle his Polo for the majority of the afternoon, Latvala holds ninth overall.

WRC2 leader Pontus Tidemand is 10th overall..

The Skoda driver holds a commanding lead of 35.5s over Nicholas Fuchs, despite a puncture on the afternoon loop.

Elfyn Evans had mechanical issues and a puncture, but managed to finish the day third in class.

Friday has largely been a day of attrition, with Ott Tanak forced to retire after crashing at the same location as Paddon.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS9:

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WRC Portugal stewards place Kris Meeke back in rally lead
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WRC Portugal stewards place Kris Meeke back in rally lead

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Hayden Paddon: Fiery WRC Rally of Portugal crash a 'harsh' outcome

Hayden Paddon: Fiery WRC Rally of Portugal crash a 'harsh' outcome
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