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SS11: Sordo fastest as roads dry

Hirvonen extends lead despite tyre concerns


By www.wrc.com

31 March 2012 - 11:50
SS11: Sordo fastest as roads dry

Dani Sordo has made it stage win number four on Vodafone Rally de Portugal following another strong performance in his latest-specification MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

In increasingly dry conditions, Sordo, who is running third on the road, completed the run in a time of 16m30.8s, 8.1s faster than Jari-Matti Latvala, who has restarted under Rally 2 regulations following his retirement on Friday.

“The stage was really nice, the balance on the car was really good,” said Sordo.

Latvala said: “We came through without any problems. I had to choose a pace for safety. If it’s conditions like now it’s going to be very, very difficult.”

Petter Solberg, who also restarted under Rally 2 rules, was third quickest, 0.5s behind his Ford team-mate Latvala. “There’s some understeer from the car. The main goal now is to finish in at least fourth, but it’s going to be very difficult. ”

Adapta Fiesta pilot Mads Ostberg has snatched second place from Evgeny Novikov after going fourth fastest. He said: “We tried a bit of a push without risks. It’s getting quite dry but in some corners you have mud so there are a few surprises.”

Novikov, who now trails Ostberg by 11.4s following his eighth-best time, said: “The plan was to push if it was raining but it’s not raining, it’s good grip now. I don’t know the stages so well so I don’t want to push. I want to keep my podium position.”

Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen was fifth fastest but has extended his overall lead to 41.7s. However, he reported that his soft compound Michelin tyres, designed for damp surfaces, had worn badly in the drying conditions. “The car was moving - it was not easy to drive,” he said. “It’s going to be very hard for the tyres now.”

Thierry Neuville is opening the road in his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC. The Belgian reported an absence of standing water but said the mud caused by recent heavy rain had created a slippery surface in places.

Ott Tanak, running out of order after leaving morning service late while his mechanics replaced a faulty propshaft, admitted to reducing his pace after striking a rock five kilometres into the run, which he feared might have damaged his M-Sport Fiesta. He set the sixth quickest time.

Martin Prokop said his Fiesta’s engine wasn’t running at full power following a possible electrical issue, which occurred on the road section heading to the stage.


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