WRC Rally Portugal: Neuville adds to lead on Saturday as Meeke crashes

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville extended his overall Rally Portugal lead on Saturday morning, ending the loop half a minute clear of Elfyn Evans after a storming run on the final stage

WRC Rally Portugal: Neuville adds to lead on Saturday as Meeke crashes

World Rally Championship title hopeful Neuville was 0.9 seconds quicker than Evans on the opening stage of the day, the Viera do Minho test, but Evans then reduced Neuville's advantage from by six seconds to 12.7s by topping the second Cabeceiras de Basto stage.

Neuville insisted he was looking after his tyres with the long subsequent stage Amarante stage in mind, and duly stretched his lead by 17.2s on the 23.33-mile final stage of the loop with the fastest time through SS12 to leave him with a commanding advantage over the M-Sport Ford Fiesta of Evans.

Neuville's team-mate Dani Sordo, in third place overall, ended the morning only five seconds shy of Evans having also made ground on the Welshman on Amarante.

A productive morning from Toyota's Esapekka Lappi allowed the Finn to close within a handful of seconds of the M-Sport Fiesta of Teemu Suninen in fourth, with Lappi halving the deficit he started the day with.

Citroen's Mads Ostberg and Craig Breen are a distant sixth and seventh overall after delays earlier in the rally, and lost further time to the leaders by running earlier in the morning order.

Their team-mate Kris Meeke, who had been running seventh, had a spectacular crash on the final stage of the loop when his rear slid around on a left-hander, his Citroen ending up on its side in the trees.

Both Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle got out of the car and appeared OK.

Following their troubles yesterday, Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford), Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala and Hyundai driver Andreas Mikkelsen all returned to the action under Rally2 rules on Saturday, with Latvala taking a stage win on the morning's opening test.

Follow Saturday afternoon's Rally Portugal stages from 3pm UK time with Autosport Live

Leading positions

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2h27m03.0s
2 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 29.9s
3 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 34.9s
4 Teemu Suninen, M.Markkula M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 48.2s
5 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 59.4s
6 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 1m16.0s
7 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 3m42.4s
8 Stephane Lefebvre, G.Moreau Citroen Total Rallye Team Citroen 10m07.0s
9 Pontus Tidemand, J.Andersson Skoda Motorsport Skoda 10m56.4s
10 Lukasz Pieniazek, P.Mazur Printsport Oy Skoda 11m09.1s


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Series WRC
Drivers Kris Meeke , Thierry Neuville
Author Graham Keilloh
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