Portugal WRC: Sordo leads Hyundai 1-2-3 after morning loop

Hyundai holds a 1-2-3 after the opening three stages of Rally Portugal, with Dani Sordo leading the charge in the Korean manufacturer's third entry.

Spanish star Sordo capitalised on an advantageous road position, with the stages having been swept clean by eight cars before him, to take the early lead in Hyundai’s third entry. The team’s two full-time drivers, Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville, hold second and third respectively.

As the opening gravel rally of the season, Portugal also marks the first time that the field has taken to the loose surface on tyres from the WRC’s new tyre supplier, Pirelli.

All of the crews set off with four soft tyres bolted on and one hard compound in the boot to be rotated as the stages played out, with the majority of drivers hoping that the prevailing cloud might unleash a little rain on proceedings.

Chief among them was Toyota’s championship leader Sebastien Ogier who, running first on the road, is obliged to contend with the least favourable conditions.

Although there was some moisture and fog early in the morning, it was insufficient to help the seven-time champion and he currently languishes in eighth position at the first service halt, 31 seconds off Sordo’s pace.

Britain’s Elfyn Evans heads the charge for Toyota in fourth place, 17.6s off Sordo’s pace, with his Japanese tea-mate Takamoto Katsuta 1.4s behind him.

In a strong morning for the Ford Fiestas of M-Sport, Gus Greensmith posted equal third-fastest time on the opening 12km test of the day but fell back after suffering a puncture that removed much of the rear bodywork of his car on the third stage.

Greensmith’s rookie teammate Adrien Fourmaux, in his second career WRC start and his first on gravel, was well placed to take up the running for the Cumbrian squad, however. Fourmaux holds sixth place at the end of the first loop, ahead of the Toyotas of Kalle Rovanpera and Ogier.

Rally leader Sordo was thoroughly enjoying his day at the top of the timesheets, having struggled to make an impact on his previous outing on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

Since then he has parted company with longtime co-driver Carlos del Barrio and been joined by 40-year-old Borja Rozada, who has competed in recent years alongside Pepe Lopez in the Spanish national gravel rally championship.

Sordo was the only runner among the Hyundais not to use his spare hard compound tyre, feeling that he was able to conserve the life of his soft rubber without a detrimental effect on his pace.

Two drivers have gone missing from the WRC2 ranks thanks to positive Covid tests, with championship leader Andreas Mikkelsen pulling out in the days before the rally and Ole-Christian Veiby being forced to withdraw after shakedown.

The category has still provided an engaging early lead battle between Esapekka Lappi’s VW Polo and the Citroen C3 of Mads Ostberg, although this was truncated after Ostberg suffered a puncture on Stage 3, promoting the VW of Russian talent Nikolai Grazin to second place and M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen to third.

Emil Lindholm leads WRC3 in his Skoda Fabia, with Britain’s Chris Ingram second in his similar car 7.9s behind, with Kajetan Kajetanowicz third in another Fabia.

A total of eight stages will be run into the evening on this first day of the rally, with 20 timed tests to be completed by the finish on Sunday afternoon.

shares
comments

Related video

M-Sport confident of landing world title contender for 2022

Previous article

M-Sport confident of landing world title contender for 2022

Next article

WRC's hybrid systems can't be used for performance advantage

WRC's hybrid systems can't be used for performance advantage
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Prime

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium Prime

Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Prime

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Prime

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021