Rally de Portugal got underway with its start ceremony in Estoril yesterday afternoon and crews immediately headed to the spectacular street stage in Lisbon for the first stage.
M-Sport World Rally Team driver Mikko Hirvonen heads the field of Vodafone Rally de Portugal, the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Finn powered into the lead in the final stage of the day to claim a 3.7 second advantage over fellow Fiesta RS WRC driver Ott Tanak. Early leader Sébastien Ogier dropped down the order this evening and overnights in third, 2.8 seconds adrift of Tanak.
Rally de Portugal got underway with its start ceremony in Estoril yesterday afternoon and crews immediately headed to the spectacular street stage in Lisbon for the first stage. Ogier claimed the honours and headed the field into the first day of gravel stages, which included two loops of three identical stages covering 146.04 competitive kilometres. After days of rain, which affected the crews’ reconnaissance earlier in the week, conditions were tricky this morning in the first loop of stages and a cautious approach was necessary over the slippery roads.
Reigning World Champion Sébastien Ogier led for four stages, winning only one of them, but the Frenchman slipped back when drying conditions late this afternoon benefitted those on soft tyres. He is however only 6.5 seconds off the lead.
Fourth is held by Mads Østberg who has had an uneventful day, unlike team-mate Kris Meeke who is competing in Portugal for the first time. Meeke has really struggled with a lack of comprehensive pace notes from the weather-struck recce and ultimately went off the road in stage seven. Behind fifth-placed Sordo is team-mate Thierry Neuville. The Belgian suffered with understeer this morning but set another fastest time for the Hyundai i20 WRC this afternoon. Henning Solberg and Juho Hänninen, seventh and eighth respectively, each had a puncture this morning and Andreas Mikkelsen has spent the day regaining his confidence in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC after a difficult event in Mexico three weeks ago. Martin Prokop rounds off the top ten.
Other leading retirements of the day included Elfyn Evans who went off the road in SS4, and Robert Kubica who hit a tree and took a wheel off in the same stage. Jari-Matti Latvala was also a casualty of the day, the Finn rolling in the following stage.
Vodafone Rally de Portugal – Unofficial Results after Day 1
1. Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen - Ford Fiesta RS WRC - 1hr 25 min 05.6sec
2. Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder - Ford Fiesta RS WRC - 1hr 25 min 09.3sec
3. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia - Volkswagen Polo R WRC - 1hr 25 min 12.1sec
4. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson - Citroën DS3 WRC - 1hr 25 min 31.2sec
5. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti - Hyundai i20 WRC - 1hr 25 min 31.3sec
6. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul - Hyundai i20 WRC - 1hr 25 min 47.6sec
7. Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor - Ford Fiesta RS WRC - 1hr 26 min 47.9sec
8. Juho Hänninen/Tomi Tuominen - Hyundai i20 WRC - 1hr 27 min 03.8sec
9. Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula - Volkswagen Polo R WRC - 1hr 27 min 21.8sec
10. Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek - Ford Fiesta RS WRC - 1hr 28 min 04.8sec