Day 2: Our Belgian crew extend their lead to almost 40 seconds
The tough gravel stages of Rally de Portugal continued to show no mercy to the WRC crews on the penultimate day of action in the sixth round of the 2018 season.
Saturdays schedule offered another punishing itinerary with a repeat loop of three taxing stages. Our Belgian crew Thierry and Nicolas mastered the conditions to perfection to extend their lead to almost 40 seconds.
We have had a very positive day, said a happy Thierry. We knew we had to be clever with our strategy on both loops. We had to save the tyres in some places to maximise the performance for the longer stages.
It was precisely on the 37.60km Amarante tests the longest stage of the rally – where the crew made their presence felt. We knew we could make the difference; its a stage I really enjoy and we could give it a big push, he added.
With our #5 crew leading M-Sport Fords Elfyn Evans, the battle for the final podium position is extremely close. Our Spaniards Dani and Carlos were just 4.7-seconds ahead of M-Sport Fords Teemu Suninen at the close of Saturday with Toyota Gazoo Racings Esapekka Lappi also in the hunt.
In general, I am pleased to be in the battle for the podium, said Dani. The gap to the guys behind is close so we need to keep pushing. The crowds have been incredible and it gives us the motivation to push.
Finely tuned details
Andreas and Anders were able to re-join under Rally 2 following their technical issues on Friday. Despite running with engine modifications, the Norwegians completed the day without incident.
I am grateful to the team for their efforts in getting us back into the rally, commented Andreas. We simply had to do our best with what we had at our disposal. I hope we can fight for some Power Stage points on Sunday.
Five stages are scheduled for the final day with two runs of the Fafe test and its iconic jump.
We find ourselves in quite good shape, summarised our Team Principal Michel. Sunday will be another challenging day, but we are closer than ever to securing our first-ever Portugal win!
Classification after Day Two
1T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3:16:30.0
2E. Evans / D. Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +39.8
3D. Sordo / C. del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)+57.2
4T. Suninen / M. Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:01.9
5E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:13.0
6M. Østberg / T. Eriksen(Citroën C3 WRC) +3:14.1
7C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +4:53.1