Hyundai’s Ott Tänak claimed a clean sweep of speed test wins on Saturday morning to strengthen his lead at Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
Just 9.0sec blanketed the Estonian, Toyota rival Elfyn Evans and Hyundai teammate Dani Sordo at the start of today’s second leg. Three fastest times from three special stages in the Cabreira Mountains, allowed Tänak to move 19.2sec clear of Evans with Sordo nearly half a minute back.
He trounced Evans by almost eight seconds in Vieira do Minho, added almost five seconds more in Cabeceiras de Basto and rounded off the morning by pipping the Welshman in Amarante, the longest stage of the weekend.
After complaining of ‘fighting’ his Hyundai i20 yesterday, Tänak was more at ease today.
Evans was second in all three stages in his Toyota Yaris, doubling his overnight advantage over Sordo to 6.1sec. The Welshman enjoyed a trouble free loop while the Spaniard’s progress was peppered with small issues.
He encountered fog in the opener and felt soft tyres were not the right choice for the conditions but was still a consistent third fastest in all three tests. He extended his advantage over a fascinating battle for fourth between Toyota twins Takamoto Katsuta and Sébastien Ogier.
Ogier demoted the Japanese driver in Vieira do Minho but a half spin in Cabeceiras de Basto dropped him behind again. The championship leader closed to within five-tenths of a second as the competitors returned to mid-leg service in Matosinhos.
Kalle Rovanperä carried one hard tyre and three softs on his Yaris which hampered his times. The Finn nevertheless retained sixth, but his overnight deficit of 4.9sec to Ogier widened to almost 40sec.
Gus Greensmith narrowed the margin to Rovanperä despite dropping his Ford Fiesta into a ditch in Amarante after missing his braking and suffering a throttle problem. He headed M-Sport team-mate Adrien Fourmaux whose throttle stuck open in Vieira do Minho, an issue the Frenchman rectified before the next stage.
FIA WRC2 leader Esapekka Lappi was ninth in a Movisport-entered Volkswagen Polo GTI, 14.0sec clear of M-Sport Ford driver Teemu Suninen, as Lappi’s teammate Nikolay Gryazin slipped off the leaderboard with a turbo problem.
In FIA WRC3, Poland’s rally hero Kajetan Kajetanowisz is in front with a 13.4sec advantage over French duo Yohan Rossel in second, and Nicolas Ciamin in third (+49.8sec).
In the Junior WRC class, Martin Sesks from Lativa snatches the lead and Slovakia’s Martin Koci moves to second, while Finland’s Sami Pajari drops to third after suffering a reported power steering issue.