Thierry Neuville holds a strong lead after Saturday morning in Rally Portugal as chaos on Friday saw several leading contenders take themselves out of the running
Chaos on Friday saw Sebastien Ogier crash out and potentially cost himself the championship lead, Hayden Paddon crashed and was precautionary airlifted to hospital and the two Toyota’s of Jari-Matti Latvala and Ott Tanak both retired on the Friday morning. The only remaining Toyota of Esapekka Lappi is down in fifth place and currently around a minute off the rally lead. Meanwhile for M-Sport despite the fact Ogier crashed out, Elfyn Evans was able to take the fight to Neuville and is currently in P2 and 29.9s behind the Hyundai and close enough should the rally leader run into any issues on Saturday afternoon.
Up until Saturday Kris Meeke had held a relatively comfortable third place as he seeked his first win of the campaign. But on the final stage of the loop, Meeke had a spectacular crash as his car went off the road and ended up in the trees on its side. Both Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle got out of the car and appeared okay but it has ended any chance they had of a strong result. Neuville’s teammate Dani Sordo is now in third place and 34.9s behind Neuville, Sordo enjoying a strong run of form recently and showing good consistency for his Hyundai team.
Following their various woes, Ogier, Tanak and Latvala all returned on Saturday morning under Rally2 rules, Latvala managing to take a stage win on the mornings opening test. Craig Breen had been in the top three on Friday but had to change a tyre on the Ponte de Lima stage and therefore lost time, and now runs a distant seventh with third Citroen Mads Ostberg ahead of him in sixth. Teemu Sunninen is having his best run of the year so far in the third M-Sport Ford, currently in a fine fourth place and just under a minute off the rally lead.