WRC – Ogier Wins Rally De Portugal

WRC – Ogier Wins Rally De Portugal

Frenchman keeps Ott Tänak at bay as Thierry Neuville extends WRC lead on Sunday.

Sébastien Ogier became the first driver to achieve six Vodafone Rally de Portugal victories on Sunday, powering to glory 7.9sec clear of his Hyundai Motorsport rival Ott Tänak.

The Frenchman is now the most successful driver in the 56-year history of the event, which was a founding round of the FIA World Rally Championship back in 1973. Ogier previously shared the record with Finnish WRC legend Markku Alén before his triumph today.

Five different drivers led the gruelling gravel fixture, which utilised roads near the northern Portuguese cities of Porto and Matosinhos and drew attendance from tens of thousands of passionate fans.

Ogier seized the top spot on a tumultuous Saturday, during which his Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Kalle Rovanperä rolled out of the lead and Takamoto Katsuta retired his similar car with shattered rear suspension.

He headed the i20 N car of Tänak by 11.9sec arriving into Sunday’s four-stage finale and stayed cool to keep the Estonian at bay, soaring high over the legendary Fafe jump to round out this fifth round of the season in style.

“I had nothing against being tied with Markku Alén,” Ogier smiled. “He is a legend, but I heard for many years ‘when will you beat this record?’

“It was a not a great weekend for the whole team, but it was a good rally for us and I am glad we could bring some points.”

Second place marked Tänak’s best result since re-joining Hyundai at the beginning of the year. The additional seven points he earned for topping the Super Sunday classification helped move him ahead of Adrien Fourmaux to third in the championship standings.

Championship wise, it was also a strong weekend for Thierry Neuville, who filled the final podium spot 1min 1.9sec behind his Hyundai colleague. Belgian star Neuville extended his drivers’ series lead to 24 points over Elfyn Evans after the Welshman endured a torrid week, finishing down in sixth having nursed a coolant leakage late in the day.

Fourmaux climbed from fifth to fourth, passing the Hyundai of Dani Sordo on SS19 and pulling more than a minute clear of the Spaniard by the end. The M-Sport Ford youngster has finished all five rallies so far this year, gracing the top five on all but one occasion.

Evans’ coolant leak forced him to crawl out of SS21 in EV mode and exacerbated what had already been a challenging outing for the GR Yaris driver. On Friday his co-driver Scott Martin resorted to reading pace notes from a mobile phone after misplacing his physical book, and the crew failed to post a single top-three stage time.

Citroën C3 Rally2 driver Nikolay Gryazin took seventh overall ahead of Jan Solans, who was the best-placed WRC2-registered driver in eighth. Solans edged Josh McErlean by just 3.2sec while Lauri Joona completed the top 10.

Competitors face more hot weather and rough roads as the WRC moves to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia later this month. Rally Italia Sardegna is based in Alghero from 30 May – 2 June.

Overall classification:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 3h 41m 32.3s
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 N +7.9s
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +1m 9.8s
4. A Fourmaux / A Coria FRA Ford Puma +1m 47.8s
5. D Sordo C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +2m 48.9s
6. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +6m 36.0s

Drivers’ Championship standings (after round 5 of 13):
1. T Neuville 110 points
2. E Evans 86
3. O Tänak 79

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