Dani Sordo was quickest in qualifying for Rally de Portugal this morning as the top four drivers were covered by less than a second.
The Spaniard was fastest in a Citroen DS3 over the 4.98km Vale do Judeu stage by 0.7sec from championship leader Sebastien Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R.
Ogier’s team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, was just one-tenth of a second slower and Mads completed the top four, another tenth of a second behind, in a Ford Fiesta RS.
Sordo’s qualifying win follows his victory in the Fafe Rally Sprint, a warm-up for this fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, in northern Portugal last weekend.
It represents a turnaround in form for the 29-year-old, who cut a forlorn figure on the gravel roads of Rally Mexico last month. Although he finished fourth, he was more than six minutes behind the winner.
Sordo will now have first choice of his starting position when the 13 drivers in WRC cars make their selections.
With the stages dry and covered in loose gravel in places, it would be a major surprise if he opted for anywhere other than last of the top priority drivers to make the most of roads swept clean by those drivers ahead.
Mikko Hirvonen was fifth fastest in the Citroen team’s other nominated DS3, the Finn 1.3sec behind his colleague. Evgeny Novikov rounded off the top six in a Fiesta RS, 0.3sec behind the Finn.
Sordo picks 13th in Friday’s running order
Rally de Portugal qualifying stage winner Dani Sordo has opted to run as far down the start order as possible on Friday's opening day of the competition.
The Spaniard, pictured above going fastest in his Citroen DS3 this morning, unsurprisingly chose to start 13th and last of the top priority drivers to take advantage of the best available road conditions.
The weather is expected to remain dry and warm for Friday’s action, leaving the Algarve stages covered in slippery loose gravel for the early starters. As the stones are swept clear, the abrasive roads become cleaner and faster and those further back in the start order have a distinct advantage.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision,” explained Sordo, “the roads will be dry and 13th place is simply the best place to be.”
Behind Sordo it was a case of follow the leader as the drivers made their start order selections in front of fans in the service park.
Second quickest Sebastien Ogier chose to run 12th in his Volkswagen Polo R, with his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala picking 11th.
All the remaining drivers chose the next lowest position available, meaning Ford Focus RS driver Dennis Kuipers has the dubious honour of running as first car through Friday’s stages.
Here is the list of today's running order selections:
1: Dennis Kuipers
2: Michael Kosciuszko
3: Martin Prokop
4: Khalid Al-Qassimi
5: Nasser Al-Attiyah
6: Andreas Mikkelsen
7: Thierry Neuville
8: Evgeny Novikov
: Mikko Hirvonen
10: Mads Østberg
11: Jari-Matti Latvala
12: Sebastien Ogier
13: Dani Sordo
FIA World Rally Championship