SS2: Fords fly on first night stage
Solberg quickest to extend Rally de Portugal lead
Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala’s decision to select lowly starting positions for Thursday’s night stages and benefit from a cleaner road surface looks to be paying off after they went fastest on the Gomes Aires test.
Solberg completed the run 1.5s quicker than factory Ford team-mate Latvala with Sebastien Loeb, running second on the road, 6.0s adrift of Solberg, who now leads Latvala by 6.1s in the overall classification.
Loeb, who was 2.9s quicker than fellow Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen, said: “It was okay with no dust at all. The grip was changing because it was humid in some places. I just tried to follow the road but it can be difficult to see in the dark.”
Hirvonen, who is opening the road on Thursday’s trio of night stages, said he wasn’t happy with his performance behind the wheel of his Citroen. “It was really bad driving, I didn’t have any rhythm,” said the Finn.
Estonian Ott Tanak reported a lack of confidence in some fast sections but said he was happy with the handling of his M-Sport Fiesta.
Dani Sordo completed the stage with only one light working on his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. As a result he took more than 2m20s to complete the stage. “After 500 metres in the stage all the lights go out, I don’t know what happened,” said the Spaniard.
Armindo Araujo’s hopes of a strong finish for the WRC Team MINI Portugal entry suffered a major setback when he left the road early in the stage and was delayed for several minutes. “We went off in the beginning of the stage and we got stuck in a ditch,” said the Portuguese ace. “We lose a lot of time. We had a small problem with the pace notes.”
Martin Prokop’s Fiesta suffered a loss of engine power 100 metres after the stage start. “We stopped and tried to restart the electronics but we have no power at all,” said the Czech.
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