Ogier consolidates Portuguese Rally lead

Ogier consolidates Portuguese Rally lead
2017-05-20 20:04:23
http://www.racer.com/component/flexicontent/502-rally/140677-ogier-consolidates-portuguese-rally-lead?Itemid=1
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Sebastien Ogier remains in the lead of Rally Portugal following the final three stages on Saturday. The Frenchman entered the final loop of the day – a repeat of the morning's stages – 19.5s ahead of Hyundai Motorsport's Thierry Neuville.

While the Belgian would take two out of three stage wins to reduce the margin to 16.8s, Ogier took the other stage victory, managed his tires and kept his Ford Fiesta WRC clean to take the advantage going into the final day.

After losing 6.2s to Neuville in the 37.55-kilometer Amarante 2 (SS15), Ogier remained pleased with his afternoon's work.

"Not bad – I am happy with that on this one," said the defending world champion. "I didn't push hard because it was a bit rough at the end."

"Thierry has a good run... I managed my tires a bit too much – too cautious maybe. Now we have to finish the job tomorrow."

While Ogier looked in command, Neuville showed he was not content to simply accept second place.

"An OK stage for me, with hards at the front and softs at the rear," said the i20 Coupe WRC pilot after finishing the day's action. "Can I win this rally? It will be difficult..."

Behind the battle at the front, the second Hyundai of Sordo had a steady and untroubled day – until the final stage when he suffered damage to his rear wheel and lost 22 seconds to his teammate Neuville.

"I don't know what happened – I promise you I didn't hit anything," said the Spaniard. "We are lucky to arrive here at the stage end."

Behind the top three, overnight leader Ott Tanak recovered from his difficult morning – where he hit a bank and broke his Ford Fiesta WRC's suspension – to overtake Craig Breen for fourth overall. The Irishman making "a mistake" with his tire choice, destroying the rears on his Citroen C3 WRC, and spinning on the long SS15.

Dominant overnight leader in WRC2, Skoda Motorsport's Andreas Mikkelsen didn't have everything his own way today, with Teemu Suninen winning four out of the six stages as Mikkelsen remained safe at the front.

The Norwegian still entered SS15 with a 1m09.3s lead over the Ford Fiesta R5 driver, who was busy holding off the other Skoda of Pontus Tidemand. That gap would grow substantially in the day's final stage as, first, Tidemand stopped with a puncture, then Suninen also suffered a puncture. The Swede would ultimately lose less time, taking second place by 19.1s – though he now sits a full 3m07.1s behind Mikkelsen.

Jakub Brzezinski arrived into the midday service with a massive 10-plus minute lead in the WRC3 Championship. However, he would fail to complete the first stage of the afternoon loop, allowing Citroen driver Francisco Name to take the lead over Rally 2 driver Nil Solans in a Fiesta.

Crews will complete Rally Portugal tomorrow with four stages comprising roughly 43 kilometers.

END OF DAY – AFTER SS15:

Sebastien Ogier Ford Fiesta WRC 3:15:24.6
Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +16.8
Dani Sordo Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +51.3
Ott Tanak Ford Fiesta WRC +1:29.6
Craig Breen Citroen C3 WRC +1:32.4

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