It was a Toyota 1-3 as Elfyn Evans took a comfortable win in FIA WRC Rally de Portugal from Hyundai’s Dani Sordi, with Sebastien Ogier in third.
The WRC Rally de Portugal started on a mixed note on Friday, especially for Hyundai, as their drivers ended up with different fate. While Sordo (co-driver Borja Rozada) led the way early on, it was teammate Ott Tanak (co-driver Martin Jarveoja) on top in the end.
Sordo’s wins in SS2, SS3 and SS5 helped him to gain early on, but a stall in the day’s penultimate stage, dropped him to third eventually at the end of the day. Tanak ended up on top, but did not have a clean run himself, as he struggled with the car.
His wins in SS1, SS6 and SS8, helped him to propel to the top, also aided by Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville’s (co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe), late crash. The Belgian slid into a bank and the car tipped onto its side, as he was forced to retire – classified 29th.
The troubles for Hyundai allowed Toyota’s Evans (co-driver Scott Martin) to end up second, despite winning no stages on Friday. His teammates Kalle Rovanpera (co-driver Jonne Halttunen) and Sebastien Ogier (co-driver Julien Ingrassia) won in SS4 and SS7.
But they were only fifth and sixth, with Ogier ahead of Rovanpera. It was their private entrant Takamoto Katsuta, who was fourth in the order. Moving on to Saturday in WRC Rally de Portugal, Tanak’s delight came to a halt at the end of the day.
The Hyundai driver started off on a solid note as he won in SS9, SS10, SS11 and SS13. He looked good to create a solid advantage until the end, where he had a crash, which smashed his rear suspension and dropped him to only 21st in the order.
Evans kept the gas on him and his wins in SS12 and SS14, helped him to take the lead of WRC Rally de Portugal with about 10s margin over Sordo, who did not bowed down without a fight. His win in SS15 kept him in the hunt, despite a motor problem early on.
Ogier, meanwhile, moved up to third after clearing Katsuta, but Rovanpera’s technical issue, dropped him to 23rd. Likewise, Neuville rejoined the rally, but was only 39th. The two M-Sport Ford Fiesta duo, were then placed in fifth and sixth.
Despite throttle issues for Adrien Fourmaux (co-driver Renaud Jamoul), he was fifth, after teammate Gus Greensmith (co-driver Chris Patterson) lost more time due to his throttle trouble. Moving on to the final day of action, it was a Evans show mostly.
His wins in SS16, SS17 and SS19, was enough for him to build upon a comfortable gap to Sordo, who had a solid margin over Ogier. At the back, Tanak kept 21st with Rovanpera moving up to 22nd, while Neuville jumped to 32nd after SS18 win.
With the Power Stage done, Evans took a comfortable WRC Rally de Portugal win over Sordo and Ogier, to proper himself into the top of the drivers’ standings. Katsuta was fourth from Greensmith, who managed to clear teammate Fourmaux for fifth.
They were the only six WRC class runners in the Top 10, as Tanak had a consolation of extra points via Power Stage win, but was way down the order along with Rovanpera and Neuville, in a weekend to forget for the two WRC title contenders.
Here’s the full results: https://www.wrc.com/en/wrcplus/live-timing/
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