Ogier holds narrow lead in Portugal

Speedcafe.com

Saturday 13th April, 2013 - 6:49am

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Sebastien Ogier out front in Portugal

Sebastien Ogier out front in Portugal

Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier holds a slim 4.4sec lead over Dani Sordo at the end of the opening day of Rally de Portugal.

Although there was just four forest stages plus a street-based Super Special in Lisbon, the key feature was no service.

Ogier took the lead in his Polo R WRC on the first stage and was the only WRC driver to fit a full set of Michelin’s soft-compound tyres that especially suited the cooler, slightly damp early conditions.

Things changed on the next stage when the temperature started to rise, the surface dried and Mads Ostberg stormed ahead, his Ford Fiesta RS shod with the hard-compound rubber.

But Ostberg’s lead proved short-lived and he crashed on the third stage when he misheard a pace note and rolled into retirement.

Ostberg’s misfortune moved Ogier back into the lead and promoted Citroen DS3 driver Dani Sordo – also on the hard compound tyres – into second.

After struggling to find a comfortable chassis set-up on the most recent round in Mexico, suspension modifications to Sordo’s car in Portugal proved a revelation. The Spaniard went quickest on both repeated gravel stages and edged ever closer to Ogier’s lead.

Jari-Matti Latvala is third, 11.4sec behind his Volkswagen team-mate Ogier and feeling more at home with the handling of his car after a frustrating time in Mexico.

Former Formula 1 star Robert Kubica failed to make it to the end of the day when he ran out of rubber for this Citroen DS3 RRC.

The Pole suffered damage to three tyres on the first four stages and with only one spare he had park prior to driving back to Lisbon for the superspecial stage. Kubica was running second in WRC 2 when he retired.

As well as his tyre issues, Kubica had been forced to repair the radiator after the second stage, when a branch went through the front of his car.

He will return under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

RESULTS: Day 1 Rally de Portugal

Pos

Driver

Make

Time

Difference

1. Sebastien Ogier

Volkswagen

49:33.0

0.0

2. Dani Sordo

Citroen

49:37.4

+4.4

3. Jari-Matti Latvala

Volkswagen

49:44.4

+11.4

4. Mikko Hirvonen

Citroen

49:49.2

+16.2

5. Thierry Neuville

Ford

50:03.7

+30.7

6. Evgeny Novikov

Ford

50:50.0

+1:17.0

7. Nasser Al-Attiyah

Ford

51:49.4

+2:16.4

8. Martin Prokup

Ford

52:00.9

+2:27.9

9. Michał Kościuszko

Mini

52:10.1

+2:37.1

10. Dennis Kuipers

Ford

52:21.7

+2:48.7

 

Opening stages highlights

Afternoon stages highlights

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