Ogier takes Rally Portugal lead amid Tanak's troubles

2017-05-20 19:53:52

Following the first three stages of Saturday, world champion Sébastien Ogier has powered into the lead of Rally Portugal after overnight leader and M-Sport Ford team mate Ott Tanak touched a bank and broke his left rear suspension in the 37.55-kilometer (23-mile) Amarante stage (SS12).

The day started in promising fashion, with Ogier and Tanak trading stage wins on SS10 and SS11, the Frenchman closing in to just 1.1s behind after the day's first stage, before the Estonian pulled out an impressive 5.2s on the 14-mile Cabeceiras de Basto stage.

Tanak would set two fastest split times in SS12 before his incident, losing more than 1m20s to Ogier – who would go on to win the stage – crawling in to the midday service in fifth place overall, 1m16.8s behind the leader.

Thierry Neuville arrived to the service as the new leading Hyundai Motorsport driver. Starting the day in fourth place 11.1s off the lead, the Belgian was never out of the top three stage times in the morning stages. He would overtake his teammate Dani Sordo – who started the day in second place – and is now Ogier's closest challenger (+19.5s).

Sordo is now third, 25.0s off the lead, with Irishman Craig Breen continuing his strong rally in fourth, the Citroën C3 WRC driver 21.2s off third place.

The third Ford Fiesta WRC of Elfyn Evans struck problems, with a puncture on SS11 costing the Welshman 1m25s and dropping him from his overnight position of fifth to seventh.

A solid set of morning stages has seen Juho Hännninen emerge as the lead Toyota Yaris WRC driver, sitting in sixth place and 1m39.5s off the lead.

Andreas Mikkelsen continues to lead the WRC2 class comfortably, 1m09.8s ahead of Teemu Suninen. However, the Norwegian has not had it all his own way this morning, with Ford driver Suninen taking two of the three stage wins – the first stages not won by the Skoda driver.

Jakub Brzezinski continues to lead the WRC3 championship – by more than ten minutes – in his Citroën DS3 R3T, though Spain's Nil Solans managed two stage wins this morning in a Ford Fiesta R2.

Crews will make a second loop of the morning's three stages to complete Saturday running this afternoon.

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