SS7: Ogier holds firm in Portugal
Ogier was fastest on five of Friday’s six stages
Sebastien Ogier will start day two of Vodafone Rally de Portugal with a lead of 26.6 seconds over Dani Sordo following a hugely impressive performance by the Citroen Junior Team driver.
Ogier, who was fastest on five of Friday’s six stages in his C4 WRC, profited when Sordo suffered a suspected sticking throttle on the last stage of the day, which enabled Ogier to extend his advantage by almost 20 seconds over the Spaniard.
The 26-year-old now faces the prospect of tackling Saturday’s stages first on the road. With road clearing likely to be more of a factor on day two due to the rougher nature of the stage surface, Ogier will face a tall order if he is to remain at the head of the field. However, he is braced for the challenge that lies ahead.
“Everything was okay today, almost perfect,” said Ogier. “I tried to push from the first stage to the last one to try to make the gap. I am happy with the gap and it would have been difficult to make it more. Now we are going to be first on the road tomorrow and I know that will be quite difficult.”
Defending world champion Sebastien Loeb was fifth heading into the final stage of the day but vaulted up to third with the second fastest time through the last test. However, delays caused by clearing the road of the loose surface gravel in the morning means he is 44.8s off the lead.
Mikko Hirvonen is fourth overnight after admitting to backing off on the middle stage of the afternoon loop in order to preserve his tyres for the final run. He is 2.1s down on Loeb with Petter Solberg falling from third to fifth after destroying his right-rear tyre with an all-out attack on the last stage of the day.
Jari-Matti Latvala is sixth after admitting his hard-charging style had caused his tyres to wear badly.
Henning Solberg completed the final stage with his car’s steering column resting on his knees following a component failure. However, he kept hold of seventh place after Stobart M-Sport team-mate Matthew Wilson lost time when he ran wide into a ditch on the second run through the Santa Clara stage and then suffered fading brakes on stage seven.
Mads Ostberg is ninth after enduring a heavy tyre wear and a bout of understeer on stage six. Kimi Raikkonen completes the top ten after improving the handling of his Citroen C4 by stiffening up the suspension for the afternoon stages. His co-driver, Kaj Lindstrom, said the Finn had also benefited from more consistent stage conditions after the changing grip levels in the morning had hit Raikkonen’s confidence.
Federico Villagra is 11th, one place ahead of Khalid Al Qassimi, who inflicted damage to the rear of his Focus when he ran wide and struck a rock on stage two.
Ken Block rolled into retirement on stage four but is due to restart on day two after an initial inspection of his Focus revealed only light damage.
Standings after SS7:
|01||Sébastien OGIER||Citroën C4 WRC||1h20m34.4s|
|02||Dani SORDO||Citroën C4 WRC||+26.6s|
|03||Sébastien LOEB||Citroën C4 WRC||+44.8s|
|04||Mikko HIRVONEN||Ford Focus WRC||+46.9s|
|05||Petter SOLBERG||Citroën C4 WRC||+49.9s|
|06||Jari-Matti LATVALA||Ford Focus WRC||+1m02.8.1s|
|07||Henning SOLBERG||Ford Focus WRC||+1m20.7s|
|08||Matthew WILSON||Ford Focus WRC||+1m54.6s|
|09||Mads OSTBERG||Subaru Impreza WRC||+2m37.3s|
|10||Kimi RAIKKONEN||Citroën C4 WRC||+3m18.1s|
|11||Federico VILLAGRA||Ford Focus WRC||+3m46.3s|
|12||Khalid AL QASSIMI||Ford Focus WRC||+3m51.9s|
|13||Juho HANNINEN||Skoda Fabia S2000||+4m19.4s|
|14||Jari KETOMAA||Ford Fiesta S2000||+4m26.1s|
|15||Nasser AL ATTIYAH||Ford Fiesta S2000||+4m49.3s|
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