M-Sport’s Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC continues to lead at Rally de Portugal, but it’s all change at the top with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia taking over the reins.
The four-time World Championships hold a 16.8 second advantage over championship rivals Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul going into tomorrow’s final 42.93 kilometres.
A brush with the scenery for both Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans may have dropped them down the order, but the Fiesta’s proven strength and performance ensures that all three crews remain inside the overall top-six.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Sébastien has had a fantastic day. He and Julien have delivered a faultless drive and it’s great to see them challenging for another victory with the Fiesta – hopefully we can make it stick tomorrow.
“It was disappointing to lose Ott from the battle, but he was lucky to get away with what he did and he had a good fight back this afternoon to get up to fourth. If we can maintain those results we’ll be very happy tomorrow afternoon.
“We’ll certainly be keeping our fingers crossed, but there’s still a lot of pressure. Anything can happen and you just have to look at how many different leaders we’ve had to see just how close it is out there.
“It’s been an incredible rally and let’s hope that we deliver a great end to it for M-Sport.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia lead the way at Rally de Portugal after delivering a faultless drive behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta WRC.
Never out of the top-two on individual stage times, the Frenchmen posted the fastest time through three of the day’s six stages to establish a 16.8 seconds advantage at the head of the standings.
With just four stages remaining, Ogier and Ingrassia are now tantalisingly close to securing a fifth Rally de Portugal victory – and their first in the north.
SS11: 2nd (+5.2)
SS13: 2nd (+1.0)
SS15: 2nd (+6.2)
Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:
“I'm very happy with how my day went. It’s been a very long time since I‘ve been able to do this kind of performance – having always been first or second into the stages. I think I did the same kind of driving as yesterday but the road position is quite different and I'm very pleased with the gap that we have managed to build.
“For sure the rally is not over yet and we still need to finish the job. With 16 seconds you can never relax completely so we need to continue in the same way – keeping the same speed and staying clear of trouble.
“We have some beautiful stages still to drive tomorrow and I really love Fafe – it's fantastic. For sure we still have to push because no one is going to back off. We still need to give it all we have and the Power Stage is always important for those extra points.
“I’m really looking forward to this last day and hoping to bring home another good result for the team and the championship.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja were on a flyer this morning. Setting strong pace behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta WRC, the Estonians extended their lead over the opening two stages, before their hard work became undone on the following speed test [SS12].
Getting caught out with some understeer under braking, the pairing ran wide and impacted with a bank. Damaging the suspension and losing the brakes, Tänak had to forgo his lead – losing more than a minute and falling to fifth.
With his Fiesta back to full working order after the midday service break, the 29-year-old climbed to fourth and remains resolute on securing good points through tomorrow’s final stages.
SS10: 4th (+3.9)
SS12: 17th (+1:23.1)
SS13: 3rd (+3.5)
SS14: 4th (+6.2)
SS15: 3rd (+10.3)
Ott Tänak (4th) said:
“It was a shame about what happened this morning. We were pushing hard but still felt quite comfortable with the pace we were setting. This is rallying and it’s just the way it goes sometimes so I’m not too frustrated.
“This afternoon we weren’t pushing so much – just concentrating on having a good rhythm with a smooth and clean drive. It was good to get back up to fourth, and that gives us a better road position going into tomorrow.
“We’ll see what happens and try to do our best as always. Craig [Breen] is still quite close behind and he’s had some good speed this weekend so we’ll have to keep an eye on him for sure.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt got their day off to a positive start – just 0.2 seconds adrift of the fastest time through the first stage of the morning. But a similar story was soon to unfold with the Brits suffering a mixed bag over the course of the day.
Running wide after a hairpin-right on SS11 and having to take avoiding action to evade a stray rock, Evans went off the road on the following corner. The excursion saw the Welshman pick up a puncture and suffer a broken damper which he had to manage through the following speed test.
With his DMACK-shod Ford Fiesta WRC back to full health after the midday service break, the 28-year-old climbed from seventh to sixth whilst using the kilometres wisely to test different configurations for the following events.
SS10: 2nd (+0.2)
SS11: 23rd (+1:25.1)
SS12: 11th (+39.1)
SS13: 10th (+7.7)
SS14: 11th (+22.1)
SS15: 8th (+26.7)
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“We were really happy with the first stage [SS10], but it’s not been so good since then. I made a mistake half way through the second stage [SS11] and was quite lucky to get back on the road. We did, but we drove to the end of the stage with a puncture and that then caused some damage to the damper – which hampered us for the longest stage of the loop [SS12].
“Moving on to the afternoon, we decided to try some different things and experimented within our package. It didn’t work out, but nothing ventured nothing gained and we did manage to get back up to sixth which is a positive.”
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:15:24.6
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +16.8
3. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +51.3
4. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:29.6
5. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:32.4
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:01.8
7. Juho Hänninen / Kaj Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:29.8
8. Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:16.6
9. Jari-Matti Latvala / Mikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:32.7
10. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Skoda Fabia R5) +7:06.6