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WRC Portugal: Rovanpera rolls handing Ogier the lead

Kalle Rovanpera has rolled out of Rally Portugal in stage 11 handing Toyota World Rally Championship team-mate Sebastien Ogier the rally lead.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Reigning world champion Rovanpera set a blistering pace in the morning’s opening test to extend his overnight lead from one second to 6.7s over Ogier, before drama struck on the following stage.

Rovanpera lost the rear of his GR Yaris in fast right-hander and clouted a tree which pitched the car into a roll, before it eventually came to rest on its side up against a tree. Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen emerged from the incident ok, but their victory hopes ended on the spot.

WRC2 leader Oliver Solberg was first to pass Rovanpera’s stricken car and barely 100 metres further up the road the Swede lost control of his Toksport Skoda resulting in a series of rolls. Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson were able to clamber out of the car. Citroen’s Yohan Rossel emerged with the WRC2 lead by 5.9s from Gus Greensmith

Ogier won stage 11 [Montim, 8.69km] by 0.5s from Hyundai’s Ott Tanak to open up a 3.4s lead from the Estonian following Rovanpera’s exit.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta has moved back into third [+15.7s] as a result, with championship leader Thierry Neuville fourth [+30.2s] having leapfrogged team-mate Dani Sordo [+32.9s].

The stage proved to be incredibly slippery with Toyota’s Elfyn Evans the first of a number of drivers to hit trouble. The Welshman recovering from a puncture and a pacenote issue yesterday suffered a spin after clipping a bank at a slow speed corner.

“At a slow junction, I got caught in the inside line and it spun the car at slow speed. There was time lost but no damage. I was very surprised at the beginning just how loose and slippery it was,” said Evans.  

Katsuta also dropped time to an error at the same corner before briefly stalling his Toyota.

Neuville was also caught out by the conditions as the Belgian encountered two moments during the stage. Neuville drifted wide through a left hander, clipping a bank in the process, and lost time to a stall. A further mistake ripped the front bumper and splitter from his i20 N.

“I misjudged the grip with the braking so I went a bit wide, and then on the hairpin I misjudged the grip again. Two mistakes in one stage is not good,” said Neuville.

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