Thieery Neuville took his first Rally Portugal victory in dominant style, taking the lead of the championship after his main title rivals suffered chaos early in the event
Neuville took control at the end of Friday, after rivals Ott Tanak and Sebastien Ogier both had various issues and retired from the days running. Tanak retired after a few miles after an oil-related problem, the consequences of hitting a rock and Ogier crashed out on Friday afternoon, sliding off the road and hitting a bank. Toyota’s woes were compounded with Jari-Matti Latvala retiring with broken right-front suspension early on Friday morning. The chaos continued later on with Hayden Paddon crashing out of the lead, and Dani Sordo then lost half a minute with a cracked rim.
Craig Breen then took over third before losing over two minutes after a tyre change. Andreas Mikklesen also had power steering issues. This all left Neuville leading over Elfyn Evans and Kris Meeke, Meeke then having a vile crash on Saturday that took him out of the event. This all left Teemu Suninen to take his first ever podium behind M-Sport teammate Evans and make it a 2-3 Ford and at least a good day for the squad in the manufacturers championship whilst Ogier sees his championship lead on the drivers side slip away from him. Toyota managed to get Lappi home in fourth place and bag some solid points.
Sordo eventually came home himself in fifth place, the trio of himself, Evans and Lappi fairly close for the fight for the final spot on the podium. Meanwhile, Ogier, Latvala and MIkkelsen all returned under Rally2 rules on Saturday, the primary goal to try and grab points on the power stage at the end of Sunday. In the end, none of them did so and the additional points were taken by Lappi in his Toyota. Mikkelsen came closest out of the returning trio with sixth. Breen and third Citroen driver Mads Ostberg took solid points in seventh and sixth respectively for Citroen.
Feature Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool