WRC Portugal: Toyota's Ott Tanak one stage away from victory

Toyota's Ott Tanak is within touching distance of victory on Rally Portugal, as Kris Meeke dropped behind World Rally Championship rival Thierry Neuville with a costly spin

WRC Portugal: Toyota's Ott Tanak one stage away from victory

Meeke grabbed 1.9s from Tanak's overnight 4.3s lead on the opening stage of the day but Tanak responded on the next two stages to rebuild an 8.1s advantage.

But Meeke made Tanak's task easier when he spun his Yaris on the second pass of Montim, losing time and relinquishing a spot to Neuville.

Neuville started Sunday 9.2s behind the rally lead in third but, despite his best effort, was unable to live with the pace of the Toyota pair.

However Meeke's mishap means he is now Tanak's nearest rival, albeit the pair split by 16.6s with just the powerstage remaining.

Defending World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier took no risks to ensure he remained in fourth place and ready to pounce on any mistakes out front. The Citroen driver is now 58.7s behind the lead, preserving his true performance and tyres for the end of rally powerstage.

Teemu Suninen was resigned to his fate in his battle with Esapekka Lappi over fifth place after Lappi found some strong pace on Saturday afternoon.

However Lappi had a ragged morning, spinning on the same hairpin as Meeke on the opening Montim stage, but was less fortunate as he rolled his Citroen C3 twice over. Mercifully the car landed on its wheels and the Finn was able to continue, but he lost over 20 seconds.

Lappi's problems continued in the next test on Fafe, as he ran wide on a right-hander and knocked his left rear wheel into a bank. He came to the end of the stage with suspected broken rear suspension, dropping behind Suninen by 21.7s.

Lappi attempted to make roadside repairs immediately after the stage but he was unable to make the start of Luilhas and retired as a result.

M-Sport's Elfyn Evans finds himself in a lonely sixth, with sizeable gaps between Suninen ahead and WRC2 Pro leader Kalle Rovanpera behind.

Rovanpera has a minute in hand over his eighth placed team-mate Jan Kopecky, with both drivers not at their maximum as they look to consolidate their positions.

Jari-Matti Latvala started Sunday in 11th following his damper related retirement late on Saturday, but has moved past WRC2 leader Pierre-Louis Loubet into ninth place.

Hyundai deployed the same tactic as it did on Saturday, ordering Dani Sordo and Sebastien Loeb to check in late and run in between Ogier and Neuville in the road order.

Both drivers set some decent stages times throughout the morning, but have nothing to fight for outside the top 15.

Gus Greensmith restarted on Sunday after his retirement on Saturday, and is just outside the top 10 places.

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WRC Portugal: Ott Tanak clings to lead as Toyotas suffer damper issues

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