Neuville steals third from Lappi

The battle between the trio of Hyundais continued on Amarante 2

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Dani Sordo has strengthened his grip on second place of Rally of Portugal, as Thierry Neuville snatched third from Esapekka Lappi.

A battle between all the Hyundais had been ebbing and flowing throughout Saturday, and at one point it looked to be Lappi who would come out on top.

But the second pass of Amarante – the longest stage of the rally – belonged to Sordo as he stretched his gap over his team-mates into double figures; heading Neuville by 12.8s.

“I need to push to be in the fight,” Sordo said. “I was a little bit scared of [wearing out] the tires but we decided we needed to try to push.”

A strong stage from Neuville allowed him to jump Lappi, taking 8.5s out of his team-mate to move into the final podium position.

“I am trying all the time and sometimes it works, sometimes not,” Neuville said.

“I miss a lot of confidence when it’s slippery.

“When it’s a bit rougher I can push more but I am missing confidence in the car – we are getting shaken around a lot.”

Rally leader Kalle Rovanperä had little to worry about with two stages remaining on Saturday.

He held a 54.5s lead after SS13, and with the Hyundais scrapping behind the pressure continued to ease on the reigning champion.

Sordo beat him to the stage win by 0.7s.

A tough afternoon for Ott Tänak continued to get tougher on Amarante after a rock flicked up and smashed the right-hand side of his windshield.

The M-Sport driver was able to continue, but the cracks along the windshield will have no doubt proved a distraction.

“It’s frustrating for myself as well but it’s a difficult weekend,” he explained.

“It’s hard when you can’t be where you want to be. There’s nothing we can do at the moment.”

Words:Adam Proud