Dani Sordo overhauled his Hyundai team-mate Ott Tänak to take the lead of Rally Portugal, with Hyundai now occupying a clear 1-2-3 as Gus Greensmith faded to seventh overall.
Tänak led Sordo by just 0.4 seconds after the opening test, on which both drivers suffered a half-spin and stall, costing them time.
But Sordo was imperious on the Góis stage, beating Tänak – who was second quickest – by 3.6s to establish a 3.2s lead out front.
It marks the first time he and new co-driver Borja Rozada have led a World Rally Championship round.
“Everything is good only the tires,” said Sordo. “I tried not to push too much as I don’t know what we need to use again.”
Tänak was less happy, admitting driving his i20 Coupe WRC is “a bit like fighting at the moment, it’s not really natural”.
He was still quicker than Thierry Neuville though, who, despite being the slowest of the works Hyundais, stayed in touch despite being the second car onto the stages. He’s 5.6s adrift of Sordo’s lead.
M-Sport driver Greensmith, who shared third place with Neuville after the opening stage, dropped 10.7s to stage winner and new leader Sordo with the seventh-fastest time on SS2 but did not seem too concerned.
“It felt pretty good I think I just felt the tires overheating and tried to manage a little bit, clearly I was just a little cautious in places,” he said.
But the damage on the leaderboard was clear as he dropped to seventh, 10.8s down on the leader’s time.
Takamoto Katsuta was the fastest Toyota driver on SS2 to climb up to sixth overall. His stage time was 0.3s faster than that set by Elfyn Evans, who remains in fifth as, although he passed Greensmith, he was overhauled by Kalle Rovanperä.
But the Finn wasn’t happy despite making up to two places to lie fourth, complaining of a car that was “too soft” and consequent understeer.
Katsuta similarly wasn’t thrilled with his own performance.
“Of course conditions are getting better and I have to be quicker in front,” said Katsuta, starting sixth on the road. “I made a lot of mistakes so not so good driving. It could be a lot better.”
Sébastien Ogier is now 5.1s in arrears of Katsuta and 15.7s back from the lead after beating only Pierre-Louis Loubet and Adrien Fourmaux on Góis, struggling as the first car on the road.
Ogier only beat Fourmaux by 0.2s though, meaning the gap between the two is just 0.6s after two stages.
Pierre-Louis Loubet’s troubled start to the 2021 season continued on Rally Portugal. Unhappy with how careful he was on the opening stage, the Hyundai junior then went off the road on SS2 and retired for the day.
In the hotly contested WRC2 class, Teemu Suninen moved into the lead – although it was his old M-Sport colleague Esapekka Lappi who was quickest on SS2.
Lappi’s Volkswagen Polo beat Suninen’s Ford Fiesta by 1.5s, but Suninen heads his Finnish compatriot by 4.3s with Nikolay Gryazin just another 0.1s behind Lappi in another Polo.
1 Dani Sordo/Borja Rozada (Hyundai) 12m59s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +3.6s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +5.5s
4 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota) +6.3s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +6.6s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +8.2s
Leading positions after SS2
1 Sordo/Rozada 22m04.1s
2 Tänak/Järveoja +3.2s
3 Neuville/Wydaeghe +5.6s
4 Rovanperä/Halttunen +9.1s
5 Evans/Martin +10.3s
6 Katsuta/Barritt +10.6s
7 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +10.8s
8 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +15.7s
9 Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (M-Sport Ford) +16.3s
10 Teemu Suninen/MikkoMarkkula (M-Sport Ford) +56.8s