WRC Rally of Portugal: Championship leader Ogier maintains lead

World Rally championship leader Sebastien Ogier maintained his Rally of Portugal lead on Saturday afternoon but he and Hyundai's Thierry Neuville remain finely poised ahead of Sunday's final day

WRC Rally of Portugal: Championship leader Ogier maintains lead

Having inherited the lead on Saturday morning's final stage when team-mate Ott Tanak made an error and damaged his left-rear suspension, Ogier entered the afternoon loop favourite to extend his advantage.

The four-time world champion forfeited a second on the afternoon's opening loop to Neuville - who became the de facto challenger after Tanak's time loss - but said at the end of the stage he had deliberately conserved his tyres.

That proved a sensible strategy as he duly added 4.5 seconds to his advantage at the head of the rally in his Ford Fiesta WRC to pull 23s clear.

But M-Sport man Ogier dropped time once more to Neuville on the day's final stage, SS15 Amarante, admitting he had been too conservative as he tried to manage his tyres through the final few splits.

That means the pair will enter Sunday's final day of competition with Ogier 16.8s to the good over the i20 over Neuville.

Dani Sordo holds a lonely but comfortable third in the second Hyundai i20, having drifted further away from the lead two after initially dropping time in the morning.

The Spaniard came through the finish at the end of SS15 with damage to the rear-left of his car, but completed the day with more than half a minute in hand over the fourth-place car of Tanak.

Estonian Tanak had started the loop in fifth as a result of his SS12 accident, but with his Fiesta repaired during service he enjoyed a clean afternoon - albeit without the same speed he had produced earlier in the day - to gain one spot overall. That came at the expense of Citroen's Craig Breen.

The Irishman had started the loop confident that his tyre choice would serve him well, but later said there had been a "misunderstanding" in the service park as he ended the loop a minute and a half down on the leader.

Elfyn Evans had a largely anonymous afternoon but did move into sixth on the final stage at the expense of Toyota's Esapekka Lappi, who hit a wall on SS15 and dropped more than five minutes as a result.

That incident also promoted Lappi's Toyota team-mates Juho Hanninen and Jari-Matti Latvala to seventh and ninth respectively, with Mads Ostberg splitting the pair overall.

Andreas Mikkelsen had maintained his stranglehold on WRC2 proceedings before closest rivals Pontus Tidemand and Teemu Suninen hit trouble on SS15, and now holds a 3m07.1s lead over team-mate Tidemand in class.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS15:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 3h15m24.6s
2 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 16.8s
3 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 51.3s
4 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1m29.6s
5 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 1m32.4s
6 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 3m01.8s
7 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 3m29.8s
8 Mads Ostberg, O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 5m16.6s
9 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 5m32.7s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Skoda Motorsport Skoda 7m06.6s

shares
comments
WRC Rally of Portugal: Ogier takes lead as Tanak hits trouble

Previous article

WRC Rally of Portugal: Ogier takes lead as Tanak hits trouble

Next article

WRC Rally of Portugal: Ogier takes comfortable second win of season

WRC Rally of Portugal: Ogier takes comfortable second win of season
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium Plus

How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Plus

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Plus

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021