Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul took their first win at Rally de Portugal today and in doing so reclaimed the lead in the FIA World Rally Championship. With an intense battle for the final podium positions raging behind them, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt took second with Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula finishing third, Suninen taking his first-ever WRC podium on his sixth event in a WRC car.
In the championship standings, Neuville’s victory and four additional points in the Power Stage see him 19 points ahead of Sebastien Ogier, the French reigning FIA World Rally champion leaving the sixth round of the series with zero points. Ott Tanak, another non-scorer in Portugal, retains third with Dani Sordo climbing to fourth. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, Hyundai continues to top the standings, albeit losing two points to M-Sport Ford. Toyota and Citroen are third and fourth ,respectively.
The pace through the second run of Fafe, the closing Power Stage, was impressive, stage times getting faster and faster with the passage of cars. With Ogier knocked out of the top five, Neuville saw his chance to bag even more points over the Frenchman and four points for second fastest added to his 25 points for his eighth victory in the WRC. Evans also picked up a point for fifth fastest through the stage and was delighted with his first well overdue podium of the season. Suninen claimed his first-ever WRC podium just 7.3 seconds adrift of teammate Evans giving M-Sport the most points in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Fourth was initially taken by Esapekka Lappi, who admitted he had never pushed so hard during an event and, more importantly, the Finn made no mistakes this weekend. He took maximum points in the Power Stage for the third time this season but incurred a 10 second penalty at the end of the event for an infringement in the Porto street stage. After leading earlier in the rally, Dani Sordo ultimately then climbed to fourth following Lappi’s penalty, still a disappointment for the Spaniard after a fine drive. Mads Ostberg, in only his second event this year with Citroen, was sixth and pleased to be on the pace after being out of the car for a number of events. After his problems, Craig Breen’s seventh position was also a disappointment to the Irishman.
In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Pontus Tidemand and Jonas Andersson bounced back from a puncture early in the rally to take their third category victory of the season. They were also eighth overall and headed Lukasz Pieniazek and Citroen’s Stephane Lefebvre. The FIA Junior and WRC 3 championships were won by Dennis Radstrom and Johan Johansson, the Swedes taking an emphatic victory such was the carnage in this two-wheel drive series.
UP NEXT: The seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to more dusty gravel roads on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia for Rally Italia from June 7-10.
Rally de Portugal – Final provisional results (subject to scrutineering):
|1||Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||3hr 49min 46.6sec|
|2||Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt||Ford Fiesta WRC||3hr 50min 26.6sec|
|3||Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula||Ford Fiesta WRC||3hr 50min 33.9sec|
|4||Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||3hr 50min 47.5sec|
|5||Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm||Toyota Yaris WRC||3hr 50min 51.3sec|
|6||Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen||Citroen C3 WRC||3hr 53min 20.1sec|
|7||Craig Breen / Scott Martin||Citroen C3 WRC||3hr 55min 09.6sec|
|8||Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson||Škoda Fabia R5||4hr 03min 57.4sec|
|9||Lukasz Pieniazek / Przemyslaw Mazur||Škoda Fabia R5||4hr 06min 03.9sec|
|10||Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau||Citroen C3 R5||4hr 06min 20.9sec|