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After SS15: Ogier consolidates lead in Portugal at the end of Day 3

Frenchman strikes after Tänak error


By Olivier Ferret

20 May 2017 - 20:06
After SS15: Ogier consolidates lead (...)

Sébastien Ogier remains in the lead of Rally Portugal following the final three stages on Saturday.

The Frenchman entered the final loop of the day – a repeat of the morning’s stages – 19.5s ahead of Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville.

While the Belgian would take two out of three stage wins to reduce the margin to 16.8s, Ogier took the other stage victory, managed his tyres and kept his Ford Fiesta WRC clean to take the advantage going into the final day.

After losing 6.2s to Neuville in the 37.55 kilometre Amarante 2 (SS15), Ogier remained pleased with his afternoon’s work.

“Not bad, I am happy with that on this one,” said the defending World Champion. “I didn’t push hard because it was a bit rough at the end.”

“Thierry has a good run… I managed my tyres a bit too much – too cautious maybe. Now we have to finish the job tomorrow.”

While Ogier looked in command, Neuville showed he was not content to simply accept second place.

“An okay stage for me, with hards at the front and softs at the rear,” said the i20 Coupe WRC pilot after finishing the day’s action. “Can I win this rally? It will be difficult…”

Behind the battle at the front, the second Hyundai of Sordo had a steady and untroubled day – until the final stage when he suffered damage to his rear wheel and lost 22.0s to his team mate Neuville.

“I don’t know what happened – I promise you I didn’t hit anything,” said the Spaniard. “We are lucky to arrive here at the stage end.”

Behind the top three, overnight leader Ott Tanak recovered from his difficult morning – where he hit a bank and broke his Ford Fiesta WRC’s suspension – to overtake Craig Breen for fourth overall. The Irishman making “a mistake” with his tyre choice, destroying the rears on his Citroën C3 WRC, and spinning on the long SS15.

Dominant overnight leader in WRC2, Skoda Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen didn’t have everything his own way today, with Teemu Suninen winning four out of the six stages as Mikkelsen remained safe at the front.

The Norwegian still entered SS15 with a 1m09.3s lead over the Ford Fiesta R5 driver, who was busy holding off the other Skoda of Pontus Tidemand. That gap would grow substantially in the day’s final stage as, first, Tidemand stopped with a puncture, then Suninen also suffered a puncture. The Swede would ultimately lose less time, taking second place by 19.1s – though he now sits a full 3m07.1s behind Mikkelsen.

Jakub Brzezinski arrived into the midday service with a massive ten-plus minute lead in the WRC3 Championship. However, he would fail to complete the first stage of the afternoon loop, allowing Citroën driver Francisco Name to take the lead over Rally 2 driver Nil Solans in a Fiesta.

Crews will complete Rally Portugal tomorrow with four stages comprising roughly 43 kilometres.


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