WRC Rally Portugal: Ott Tanak pulls clear of Jari-Matti Latvala

Ott Tanak continues to lead the World Rally Championship's Rally Portugal ahead of his Toyota team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke, as Teemu Suninen's podium challenge for M-Sport faded

WRC Rally Portugal: Ott Tanak pulls clear of Jari-Matti Latvala

Latvala reduced Tanak's advantage from 6.9 seconds to 5.4s on the first stage of the afternoon, but immediately fell back again on stage five as he "tried to save tyres" for stage six Arganil.

Ultimately Latvala couldn't take advantage as he stalled the engine on stage, dropping to 15.2s behind Tanak ahead of Friday night's superspecial stage.

Suninen was set to overhaul Latvala after taking third from Meeke with a second-fastest time on Lousa and then fastest on Gois.

But the Ford Fiesta "lost all brakes" on stage six, plummeting Suninen down to sixth and elevating Meeke back into third.

Meeke spotted a puncture warning light on stage five, suspecting his Yaris was carrying a soft tyre, but ultimately admitted he couldn't "match the pace of the others when it's rough, so there's still some work to do."

World champion Sebastien Ogier sought to recover some of the damage done in the morning when he was forced to sweep the loose gravel from the surface of the stages.

His pace was more encouraging relative to Tanak, his Citroen losing just 2.9s across the loop, but he was overhauled by Thierry Neuville on stage four. The Hyundai driver was on his own recovery mission following a stall in the morning.

Ogier responded on the following test to retake what would become fourth from Neuville, but it was the Hyundai that ended the loop ahead, just 0.7s in front and crucially behind in Saturday's start order.

Neuville was a little frustrated, describing the handling of his i20 as "not perfect."

M-Sport's Elfyn Evans had been running ahead of the pair but drama befell him on stage five, where he pulled up with a suspected throttle pedal issue.

After finding a loose connection and reconnecting it, he managed to restart but would drop four minutes by the end of the stage. The issue was sorted and he completed the afternoon loop but outside the top 10.

Ogier's Citroen team-mate Esapekka Lappi was slowed by the hanging dust left behind Evans's Fiesta, losing 56s, but the Finn is expected to get that time back. Otherwise he completed a clean loop of stages to hold eighth.

Gus Greensmith lies a place ahead of Lappi on his WRC debut for M-Sport. The Englishman holds seventh place, but was frustrated to have lost time at the beginning of stage five when his car wouldn't engage into stage mode.

Hyundai pair Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo remain well outside the top 10, beginning the afternoon 15 and 18 minutes off the lead respectively after both suffering a fuel related issue in the morning.

Despite winning stage four, Sordo's Friday got even worse when he suffered a front-left puncture on stage five.

Leading positions after SS6

Pos Driver Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota 1h00m50.1s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota 15.2s
3 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota 21.7s
4 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai 25.3s
5 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Citroen 26.0s
6 Teemu Suninen, M.Salminen Ford 1m10.5s
7 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson Ford 1m19.5s
8 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen 2m13.1s
9 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Volkswagen 3m38.6s
10 Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler Skoda 3m42.8s

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