Portugal WRC: Neuville stretches out lead to 40s

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville extended his overall Rally Portugal lead over Elfyn Evans on Saturday afternoon, ending the day nearly 40 seconds clear.

Neuville started the loop with a 29.9s advantage over Evans, but the Welshman reduced the gap to 23.6s in the opening stage of the afternoon at Viera do Minho. 

Neuville extended his lead to 28s on the Cabeceiras de Basto stage and then stretched his lead by a further 11.8s on the long third stage at Amarante to give himself a total advantage of 39.8s.

It rained on sections of both the second and third stages, which suited Hyundai’s decision to run with four soft tyres compared with Ford’s two.

Evans was able to move clear of Neuville’s teammate Dani Sordo in third place overall and ended the day 17.4s clear of him, having been 5s ahead at the start of the afternoon loop. 

Sordo came under pressure from Ford’s Teemu Suninen in fourth and he a half-spin at the start of the final stage which lost him around 7s. He was able to recover to end the day 4.7s clear of the Finn. 

Suninen ended the day 11.1s ahead of Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi after the Finnish pair had a close fight all though the day. Suninen also benefitted from a review of previous times which gained him 6.4s.

Citroen’s Mads Ostberg and Craig Breen are a distant sixth and seventh after delays earlier in the rally. Ostberg also lost over a minute to the leaders on the second stage of the afternoon due to a half-spin which left his rear wheels over a dip and requiring spectators to push him clear.

Citroen's Kris Meeke had been airlifted to hospital following his earlier crash, but has now been released after precautionary checks.

Report by Graham Keilloh

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About this article
Series WRC
Event Rally Portugal
Drivers Thierry Neuville
Teams Hyundai Motorsport
Article type Leg report