SS1: Ogier fastest in Portugal opener
Frenchman tops times at rallycross circuit
Sébastien Ogier won Thursday night’s opening speed test at Vodafone Rally de Portugal despite a boost problem on the startline at Lousada rallycross circuit.
He outpaced Hayden Paddon by 2.6sec in the headline heat on the 3.36km mixed surface special stage, but the Frenchman was concerned by the issue in his Volkswagen Polo R.
“I had no boost from the engine for the first few hundred metres but then it came back. I hope the team can quickly check what it is and solve the problem,” said Ogier, whose car will be in the hands of the mechanics for less than 20 minutes at the start of tomorrow’s leg.
Ogier was 0.9sec quicker than Thierry Neuville’s Hyundai i20, who this morning was fastest at shakedown. The Belgian’s team-mate, Dani Sordo, was a further three-tenths slower.
“I’m quite confident,” said Neuville. “I enjoyed the stage with all the spectators, it was nice to start the rally like this.”
More than 30,000 fans basked in the hot evening sunshine to watch the spectacular action from the first of 19 stages over four days.
Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth, despite almost stalling his Polo R twice, with team-mate and 2015 winner Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke completing the top six.
This fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship continues tomorrow when competitors face two identical loops of three gravel stages near Viana do Castelo, close to the Spanish border. Two asphalt street stages in the centre of Porto end the leg after 132.04km of competition.
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