Kalle Rovanperä takes the lead in Rally Portugal, Pierre-Louis Loubet in the fight for the podium
The first stage of the Portugal rally will have been lively on Friday over the…
The first stage of the Portugal rally will have been lively on Friday over the eight special stages of the day. Despite her rather penalizing second place on the road, Kalle Rovanperä completed a great stage to settle in first place after winning three lap times at the wheel of her Toyota Yaris.
It was a day worthy of his performances last year when he won his first world championship title. Taking advantage of his good position on the road, Dani Sordo was the only one who could really hold on. The Spaniard may regret the eleven seconds lost in the seventh special with his tires in agony. After recovering 3.4s on the short tarmac super special that closed the day, the Hyundai driver is 10.8s off the lead.
Behind a small gap is made with a trio of pursuers in a pocket handkerchief from Thierry Neuville (3rd, Hyundai) at 26” from Rovanperä to Esapekka Lappi (5th, Hyundai) at 27”3 via a Pierre – Louis Loubet in good shape, 4th at 26”9. The French M-Sport Ford driver set the first scratch time of the day, leading the time of a special stage before having a huge scare at the end of the morning loop when his car started to smoke a little before the finish, causing the fire extinguishers to come out.
Evans big loser
With the problem contained, the two mechanics authorized to change tires between the two loops were able to resolve the breakdown definitively, allowing Loubet to set off again and fight for perhaps his first world podium.
The big loser of the afternoon was Elfyn Evans (Toyota), out in the last “real” special of the day. The Welshman, who had lost ground due to his first position on the road, will lose precious points in the title race. Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford), struggling at the front, fell to sixth place following a puncture. He is more than a minute behind the leaders now. Finally Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota) had to stop in the morning because of an alternator problem.
In WRC2, Adrien Fourmaux (Ford) was in the lead for a long time before accumulating problems and falling back nearly eight minutes from the lead in the category, held by Oliver Solberg (Skoda) ahead of Gus Greensmith (Skoda, + 10”2) and Frenchman Yohann Rossel (Citroën, +20”2).