Rally win hands Neuville title lead

Thierry Neuville

Thierry Neuville has moved into the lead of the World Rally Championship after claiming victory in Rally Portugal.

The Hyundai driver held a nearly 40 second advantage over Elfyn Evans heading into the final day, maintaining that gap throughout to take his second win of the season.

Evans finished second with M-Sport Ford team-mate Teemu Suninen in third place to record his maiden WRC podium.

Sebastien Ogier was an early retirement from the rally, crashing out on Friday’s opening stage.

Leading the championship at the time, Ogier clipped a bank which forced his car off the road and into a wooded area.

Though neither Ogier nor co-driver Julien Ingrassia were injured, the duo went no further than the Viana do Castelo stage.

Kris Meeke and Hayden Paddon were also retirements, with both drivers being air-lifted to hospital for precautionary checks after separate crashes.

The rally’s opening morning was led by Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, though only after four different leaders in as many stages opened the event proper.

Ott Tanak headed proceedings following a super special stage on Thursday night, but his Toyota ingested a rock which forced him out with high oil pressure.

Jari-Matti Latvala was also a casualty on Friday, stopping his Toyota Yaris with damaged suspension.

Towards the end of the day the spate of retirements saw Neuville move into the head of the rally, an advantage he then held throughout.

Early leader Sordo was fourth in the final results, initially fifth behind Esapekka Lappi in the sole Toyota to reach the finish but a penalty for clipping a bale on Friday’s Stage 9 demoted him to fifth.

In championship terms, Neuville scored 29 points over the event courtesy of winning the rally and finishing second fastest on the power stage.

The Belgian holds a 19 point advantage over Ogier, who failed to score a point courtesy of his early retirement.

The 2018 WRC now heads to Rally Italy on June 7-10 for the seventh round of its 13 event season.

Rally de Portugal: Results (Top 10)

Pos Num Driver Nat Team Car Time/Gap
1 5 Thierry Neuville BEL Hyundai i20 WRC 3:49:46.6
2 2 Elfyn Evans GBR M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +40.0
3 3 Teemu Suninen FIN M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +47.3
4 16 Dani Sordo ESP Hyundai i20 WRC +1:00.9
5 9 Esapekka Lappi FIN Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +1:04.7
6 12 Mads Ostberg NOR Citroen C3 WRC +3:33.5
7 11 Craig Breen IRL Citroen C3 WRC +5:23.0
8 31 Pontus Tidemand SWE Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2 +14:10.8
9 37 Lukasz Pieniazek POL Printsport Fabia R5 WRC2 +16:17.3
10 42 Stephane Lefebvre FRA Citroen C3 R5 WRC2 +16:34.3

Rally de Portugal: Power Stage (Bonus points)

Pos Num Driver Nat Team Car Time/Gap Bonus
1 9 Esapekka Lappi FIN Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC 6:33.2 5
2 5 Thierry Neuville BEL Hyundai i20 WRC +1.9 4
3 16 Dani Sordo ESP Hyundai i20 WRC +2.1 3
4 3 Teemu Suninen FIN M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +3.2 2
5 2 Elfyn Evans GBR M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +4.3 1

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Nat Pts
1 Theirry Neuville BEL 119
2 Sebastien Ogier FRA 100
3 Ott Tanak EST 72
4 Dani Sordo ESP 60
5 Esapekka Lappi FIN 55
6 Andreas Mikkelsen NOR 54
7 Elfyn Evans GBR 45
8 Kris Meeke GBR 43
9 Jari-Matti Latvala FIN 31
10 Craig Breen IRL 26
11 Teemu Suninen FIN 23
12 Mads Ostberg NOR 16
13 Sebastien Loeb FRA 15
14 Pontus Tidemand SWE 11
15 Hayden Paddon NZL 10
16 Jan Kopecky CZE 5
17 Bryan Bouffier FRA 4
18 Gus Greensmith GBR 2
19 Lukasz Pieniazek POL 2
20 Pedro Heller CHI 1
21 Yoann Bonato FRA 1
22 Stephane Lefebvre FRA 1

Manufacturers’ championship

Pos Team Pts
1 Hyundai WRT 175
2 M-Sport Ford WRT 162
3 Toyota Gazoo Racing 140
4 Citroen WRT 111

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