Peerless Rovanperä dominates second Portugal leg

Five stage wins from seven means the world champion leads by nearly a minute


Kalle Rovanperä holds a dominant Rally of Portugal lead heading into the final day, ending Saturday’s action with a 57.5-second lead after five stage wins from seven.

The historic two-mile Lousada superspecial – held on the Costhila rallycross circuit – was packed to the rafters as fans witnessed the final stage of Saturday’s Rally of Portugal action.

And for the drivers it was just a case of making it through to the end of the day, with four more stages remaining on Sunday.

Come the end of the superspecial it was Sordo who took the stage win, edging Rovanperä by 0.9s.

That will be of no concern to the reigning champion, but it was perhaps a lucky escape for the Toyota driver who lost his intercom on the final stage of the day.

“My headphones broke on the last stage of the day so we were lucky it was here and not in the forest,” he said.

Meanwhile the battle between Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi saw the pair go head-to-head on the superspecial, with the former getting the better on that occasion by just 0.1s.

Neuville now holds a 2.3s advantage over Lappi in third going into Sunday.

“I was not on a good tire strategy this afternoon but we had good fun,” Neuville said.

“When it’s such a crowd it’s so enjoyable and just a great show. That’s what we love.”

Ott Tänak had struggled to find any sort of rhythm throughout the day, and on SS15 said he suffered another technical issue on his Ford Puma Rally1.

“We lost the handbrake here,” he explained. “What a day.”

The M-Sport driver remained in a lonely fifth just as he had all day with Lappi 1m10.9s up the road.

Oliver Solberg is sixth overall, leading WRC2 by 35.4s over Gus Greensmith.

Words:Adam Proud