Sordo repels team-mates Lappi and Neuville

Esapekka Lappi has pulled away from Thierry Neuville, but couldn't match his other team-mate Dani Sordo


The three-way battle for second between all Hyundais continued on the first stage of Saturday afternoon, but Dani Sordo continued to fend off his team-mates behind.

Sordo held a 4.6-second advantage over Esapekka Lappi heading into service, and a good stage allowed him to grow that very slightly on the second pass of Vieira do Minho, but only by a single tenth, to 4.7s.

Thierry Neuville meanwhile was 0.9s from Lappi at the end of Saturday morning, but he couldn’t make any inroads to begin the afternoon and is now 5.8s off his team-mate.

Neuville was satisfied with his stage however: “I had a good stage – I can be satisfied,” he said.

“It’s more rutted now so it’s a bit more easy to keep the car in the line.”

On the other hand, Lappi wasn’t necessarily pleased with his pace and said his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 wasn’t as easy to control as he would have liked.

“It felt still slippery like in the morning, so I guess Kalle [Rovanperä] will beat us by 15 seconds,” he said.

“Quite clean driving but, on the other hand, quite a few mistakes because it was understeering in a lot of places.”

At the front, Kalle Rovanperä didn’t beat the rest by 15 seconds but continued to hold the cards on Rally of Portugal.

On SS12 he made even more time up on the cars behind, and despite being slower than Sordo on the first four splits, he brought it back towards the end to win the stage and increase his lead to 55.2s.

Ott Tänak continued to sit in a lonely fifth place and is now 45.9s from Neuville, with nobody putting the pressure on behind.

Takamoto Katsuta had little to fight for on Saturday in terms of position following his Friday morning troubles but complained at the stage end of battling with visibility, as dust that had crept inside of his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 put his eyesight to the test.

“At the end of the stage I was losing a lot and the dust was coming inside of the car,” he explained.

“It’s better than Kenya, but still the visibility was bad.”

Words:Adam Proud