Portugal: Latvala fastest on Qualifying Stage
Ford ace first to select starting position for Thursday’s stages
Jari-Matti Latvala has gone fastest through the Qualifying Stage for Vodafone Rally de Portugal, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.
Driving a Ford World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, the Finn set a time of 3m01.884s on the 4.96-kilometre Vale do Judeau stage. It means he will now be able to select his starting position for Thursday’s opening runs.
“The car was feeling good but you have to remember we are still very early in the rally,” said Latvala. “For the road position we might start way behind and take the risk for dust at night.”
Petter Solberg will be the second driver to select his starting position after going second fastest on the stage, 1.771s slower than his Ford team-mate Latvala.
Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest for the factory Citroen team, one place ahead of fellow Citroen driver, the eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was the first driver to tackle the test.
“For sure you like to set a good time but it can be easy to go off the road on a stage like this,” said Loeb.
Ott Tanak was fifth quickest for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team with team-mate Evgeny Novikov just behind in sixth.
Dani Sordo was the top MINI John Cooper Works WRC driver in seventh position.
Nasser Al-Attiyah endured a troubled run through the stage when he missed a junction in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen. Paulo Nobre was also out of luck when he rolled his WRC Team MINI Portugal nearing the end of the test.
“It was a small roll but another accident again,” said Nobre, who reached the stage finish on foot.
Drivers will select their starting positions at 13:00hrs local time.
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