Rovanperä and Solberg crash on same stage

The leaders of both of the top categories dramatically crashed out of Rally Portugal on Saturday morning


Kalle Rovanperä has dramatically rolled out of the lead of Rally Portugal, while Oliver Solberg amplified the drama of Montim by rolling his car only 100 meters after passing Rovanperä’s stricken Toyota.

A stunning stage win on the day-opening Felgueiras test had extended the reigning world champion’s lead to 6.7s over team-mate Sébastien Ogier.

But he pushed a bit too hard on Montim, overshooting a medium right with a crested apex and going off into the trees on the other side, rolling in the process. The car landed on its side, so Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen had to climb out of the passenger door.

Even more extraordinarily, the next car through after Rovanperä crashed only seconds after passing the stranded GR Yaris Rally1.

Solberg had been leading WRC2 but only a few corners after going past the site of Rovanperä’s incident, he clipped a bank and sent his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 into a barrel roll.


Rovanperä had extended his lead on Saturday's opening stage, but dramatically rolled out of the event on the very next stage

“It’s crazy,” remarked Yohan Rossel, who inherited the lead in WRC2 and was the first driver through after Rovanperä and Solberg’s accidents. “In 100 meters you have two guys who were leading [crashed]…it’s crazy.”

Errors were a dime a dozen on the Montim stage, though not to the extent of Rovanperä’s off. Championship leader Thierry Neuville ripped the front bumper off his Hyundai by hitting a bank, and also lost a few extra seconds when he overshot a hairpin left and clattered another bank, which led to a stall.

Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta both spun at the same corner, the front-right corner of their cars digging into a rut that pulled them into a bank, which spun them around and cost them a few seconds but no positions.

Amidst all the chaos, Ogier won the stage by 0.5s to extend his newly inherited lead to 3.4s off Ott Tänak, with Katsuta moving back into the podium positions and with 14.5s in hand over Neuville.

Adrien Fourmaux is 12.9s behind fifth-placed Dani Sordo, while Elfyn Evans is 1m20s adrift of the lead M-Sport car after his spin.

Rossel’s lead in WRC2 over Gus Greensmith is 5.9s. The stark scene of Rovanperä and Solberg crashed within 100 meters of one another had disrupted Greensmith’s flow: “As soon as I saw Oliver off, I struggled to find a rhythm because at that point it would be ridiculously stupid to do something,” said the Toksport driver. “I backed off, took it cautiously. Six seconds is nothing on a day like this.”