RALLY POR­TU­GAL

JARI-MATTI LAT­VALA

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RALLY ES­SEN­TIALS

Day one: 84.13 miles; 9 stages Weather: sunny, 14 to 25 cel­sius Se­bastien Ogier puts the ham­mer down around Thurs­day night’s crowd-pleaser at the Lou­sada ral­ly­cross track to lead overnight. But that’s as good as it’s go­ing to get for the VW Polo driver, who is forced to give best to Kris Meeke’s fly­ing Citroen DS 3 WRC, which is run­ning 12 cars fur­ther back, cour­tesy of the North­ern Ir­ish­man’s ab­sence from the last two ral­lies. Not ev­ery­body makes a fly­ing start. Jar­iMatti Lat­vala and Thierry Neuville are way too steady on Fri­day morn­ing’s opener. Lat­vala ar­rives at the stage end, looks at the time and put his head down. “No panic, no panic,” he said, sound­ing like a man who needed to take his own ad­vice. Neuville: “I see stones ev­ery­where.” They would be ninth and fifth re­spec­tively, trans­mis­sion fail­ure cost­ing the Finn three min­utes in the af­ter­noon. Dani Sordo is im­me­di­ately in the groove in third, with An­dreas Mikkelsen lack­ing con­fi­dence in fourth. Be­hind Neuville, Stephane Le­feb­vre en­joys his best day yet in a DS 3 WRC in sixth.

End of day one: 1 Meeke/ Na­gle 1h28m53.3s; 2 Ogier/ In­gras­sia +31.9s; 3 Sordo/ Marti +37.3s; 4 Mikkelsen/jaeger +52.3s; 5 Neuville/ Gil­soul +1m12.2s; 6 Le­feb­vre/ Moreau +1m33.5s.

Day two: 102.70 miles; 6 stages

over­cast/sunny, 12 to 20 cel­sius Meeke finds an ex­tra gear on roads that clean in the morn­ing. The DS 3 moves more than a minute clear at the front of the field be­fore tak­ing two spares cuts his ad­van­tage to 45s with Sun­day’s four stages left. Mikkelsen closes right up to Ogier while Sordo is strug­gling to keep the rear of his Hyundai in the line, drop­ping time and slip­ping away from the fight for a podium place. Le­feb­vre hits a rock and re­tires, help­ing to el­e­vate M-sport’s Eric Camilli. Af­ter a tor­rid start to the sea­son, Camilli is fly­ing for the first time and reg­u­larly match­ing the times of his more ex­pe­ri­enced team-mate Mads Ost­berg, who is sev­enth hav­ing lost drive to the rear of his Ford on day one. Lat­vala passes Ost­berg for sixth place on SS11, but the Finn is still strug­gling to find much to cheer on an event he won in fine style 12 months ago. Hyundai’s day goes from bad to worse when Kevin Ab­bring re­tires for the sec­ond morn­ing in suc­ces­sion shortly be­fore Neuville runs out of petrol fol­low­ing a mis­cal­cu­la­tion from the en­gi­neer re­gard­ing how much juice is needed to keep the i20 on the move through the af­ter­noon.

End of day two: 1 Meeke/ Na­gle 3h16m11.4s; 2 Ogier/ In­gras­sia +45.3s; 3; Mikkelsen/jaeger +48.4s; 4 Sordo/ Marti +1m20.0s 5 Camilli/ Veil­las +3m04.2s; 6 Lat­vala/anttila +4m07.8s

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Ost­berg: sev­enth, and third in ta­ble

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