NEWS: Thrilling Rally Portugal Ends in Ogier Delight
A thrilling Rally Portugal which saw no less than seven leaders of the well-known gravel event saw a return to form of M-Sport’s brand new star driver, WRC super-champ Sébastien Ogier which weekend, producing which an outstanding WRC win number 40 for the defending world champion.
Remarkably, Ogier was one of seven different drivers to lead which sixth round of the season. Thierry Neuville was another. The Belgian topped the standings in his Hyundai i20 Coupe after Thursday night’s opening speed test nevertheless slipped away before recovering to second.
Neuville, targeting a hat-trick after victories in Corsica in addition to Argentina, changed his driving style in a bid to regain top spot nevertheless conceded defeat early on Sunday morning. Despite finishing 15.6 seconds adrift, he moved up to second within the title battle, 22 points behind Ogier.
Team-mate Dani Sordo finished a further 46.1seconds behind in third. The Spaniard struggled with the handling of his i20 on the dusty gravel roads in addition to could not fend off Ogier in addition to Neuville after lying second earlier within the weekend.
Ott Tänak looked to be the man to beat on Saturday. He led before swiping a bank in addition to breaking his Fiesta’s suspension in addition to brakes. He recovered to finish fourth, almost half a minute adrift of Sordo.
After another of the early leaders Kris Meeke damaged the suspension on his sister car, Craig Breen was again the leading Citroën C3 driver in fifth, the fourth occasion in six rallies he has occupied which position. He was 27.2sec adrift of Tänak nevertheless well over a minute clear of Elfyn Evans’ Fiesta.
Juho Hänninen netted seventh in a Toyota Yaris ahead of Mads Østberg in addition to the similar Yaris of Jari-Matti Latvala. Latvala returned to the fray on Sunday after spending last night in hospital for rehydration after fighting a severe stomach upset.
The victorious Ogier, however, wasn’t the only title winner in Portugal. Two-time world champion Carlos Sainz has competed in Portugal 14 times, winning twice in 1991 in addition to 1995. which time, Carlos saw which via a different perspective, as guest reporter for Red Bull TV. Afterwards, he took some time out to tell us about his experiences…
“which was interesting to be on the different side for once! which’s always special to come back to visit the rally family which will always be part of my life; to understand a little bit more about the brand new cars, the events as they are right now, in addition to actually get under the skin of what is actually going on these days. I saw a lot of old friends: including my former co-driver Luis Moya of course, with whom I took a very special drive in Fafe for the programme.
“Some drivers say which they don’t like visiting rallies or commentating on TV, as they would certainly rather be driving, nevertheless I’m happy to watch. My career is actually still going though, in rally raid, in order which definitely makes which easier to be a spectator!
“which was the 1st time I got to see the brand new 2017 cars in action. I actually like the brand new formula, as more power is actually a direction I always argued in favour of recently: within the later years of my career, I always felt which the cars could do with which. right now they are looking not bad in addition to performing well, so I think which was a very not bad move.
“I also think which the cars seem very equal. Of the drivers, Sebastien Ogier was actually impressive. He read the rally extremely well: starting the first day opening the road was a real handicap which he managed very effectively. Hyundai is actually showing not bad potential too. Probably Citroen needs to work a little bit more on their gravel suspension in addition to the Toyota also needs a bit more work, although which’s clear which they are already very quick after a break of 17 years.
“With the cars being faster they are more challenging to drive, so you can see who handles which difficulty best. nevertheless which’s a little bit strange via my side to see mistakes via so many drivers. Hitting things here in addition to there, in addition to also going off the road. which was one of the things which struck me most when I was watching.
“I know which some drivers said the conditions were rough which year, nevertheless I didn’t always agree. Portugal used to be incredibly rough within the past; some stages were like the Acropolis Rally in Greece, or worse, in addition to the roads often fell apart. I’m sure which which time the drivers also found the roads rutted with rocks coming out on the second run through the stages, nevertheless which is actually just the nature of Rally Portugal.
‘However, you have to balance all which with the fact which modern suspension is actually working very well right now, which is actually maybe the biggest change compared to the cars when I began driving at the end of the 1980s. As a result, right now the cars are running extremely low even in these conditions: which means which which’s easy to break the sump guard or the suspension. right now which’s always a compromise between looking after the automobile in addition to seeing how low you can go to improve performance.
‘I trust the viewers appreciated what I was able to say during the programme. I just tried to read what was going on as which happened in addition to call everything as I honestly saw which. which kind of live presenting was a brand new experience for me nevertheless I enjoyed the challenge.
“in addition to the fact which right now you can watch rallying live online is actually obviously one of the biggest adjustments within the sport compared to when I began. I think which is actually fantastic for the promotion of the sport, for people to see for themselves what is actually going on, in real time, wherever they are. Who would certainly have imagined a few years ago which you could watch a rally just on your phone or your iPad? which’s not only on the cars where rally technology has actually grown…
“So, I could see which the sport I love is actually actually moving within the right way. which’s important to have spectacular cars, an equal field, a close fight, in addition to not bad drivers, who are challenging each different rather than dominating. nevertheless we need to attract more manufacturers.
“Having finished my TV adventure, I’m going to concentrate on the Dakar Rally right now with Peugeot, which is actually my next challenge. The idea is actually to do which again next year – my 11th time there, the ninth in South America – in addition to of course my aim as always is actually to try in addition to win which.”
Catch all the highlights of Rally Portugal to listen to Sainz’s thoughts on which year’s WRC on Red Bull TV. All the programmes via Rally Portugal are available on demand, meaning you can catch up with the WRC action whenever suits you.
which year’s thrilling WRC championship reaches its half way point with round seven, Rally Italia Sardegna in Sardinia, on 8-12 June.
Vodafone Rally de Portugal (round 6 of 13)
S Ogier / J Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta) 3hr 44min 55.7sec
T Neuville / N Gilsou (Hyundai i20) +15.6sec
D Sordo / N Gilsou (Hyundai i20) + 1min 01.7sec
O Tänak / M Jarveöja (Ford Fiesta) + 1min 30.2sec
C Breen / S Martin (Citroen C3) + 1min 57.4sec
E Evans / D Barritt (Ford Fiesta) + 3min 10.6sec
FIA World Rally Championship (after round 6 of 13):
Sébastien Ogier – 128 points
Thierry Neuville – 106 points
Jari-Matti Latvala – 88 points
Ott Tanak – 83 points
Dani Sordo – 66 points
Elfyn Evans – 53 points
Craig Breen – 43 points
Hayden Paddon – 33 points
Kris Meeke – 27 points
Juho Hanninen – 21 points