WRC Rally Portugal: Kris Meeke upstages Sebastien Ogier on return

Citroen's Kris Meeke leads Rally Portugal after Friday morning's opening loop, ahead of World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier

WRC Rally Portugal: Kris Meeke upstages Sebastien Ogier on return

On his first WRC appearance since Sweden in February, Meeke usurped the overnight leader with a consistent run through Friday's first three stages to build an advantage of 11.5 seconds over Ogier, with Hyundai's Dani Sordo in third.

Despite fastest split times from Sordo and Ott Tanak on SS2, Meeke was the only man able to better Ogier's overall time on the stage, doing so by a comfortable 5.6s to snatch the lead by 3.5s from the Frenchman who had been quickest on Thursday evening's superspecial opener.

Meeke was able to add a further 2.4s to that advantage on SS3, the shorter Caminha stage, then found a further 5.6s in his Citroen DS3 WRC on the morning's final stage to extend his lead over Ogier to beyond 10s on the Viana do Castelo stage as the effects of road sweeping for the points leader really became apparent.

Sordo enjoyed a consistent morning, setting the third-fastest stage times on SS2 and SS4, to sit third ahead of the afternoon's five stages, 3.1s behind Ogier, while Jari-Matti Latvala ended the morning in fourth.

The Finn had complained about understeer in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC all morning, but set the fastest time of all on SS4 to close to within six seconds the podium, ending the morning level with the impressive Tanak.

Estonian Tanak struggled on his soft DMACK tyres on SS2, but clawed back time on the following two stages to tie with Latvala in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Rally Argentina winner Hayden Paddon was sixth-fastest in the second Hyundai i20 WRC ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen.

Thierry Neuville recovered from a sluggish start to the morning to claim eighth heading to the service break ahead of Meeke's PH Sport team-mate Stephane Lefebvre, while Mads Ostberg was the best of the M-Sport Fiestas in 10th having shaded team-mate Eric Camilli on SS4.

Pontus Tidemand set a fantastic pace in his Skoda Fabia R5 and holds a 35.2s lead over closest WRC2 challenger Nicolas Fuchs.

Elfyn Evans lies third in class, a further three seconds back despite a clutch problem.

Live Rally of Portugal coverage resumes from 3.30pm UK time

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS4:

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Hayden Paddon relishing straight WRC fight with Sebastien Ogier

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