Ott Tänak has registered his first stage win of Rally Portugal, beating the World Rally Championship field on the short Montim test.
Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans’ battle for victory was essentially put on pause through Sunday’s second stage, as Rovanperä gained only 0.1s on his Toyota team-mate to push the lead gap up to 8.5s.
Both had to take a back seat on Montim to Hyundai’s pair of full-time drivers, as Thierry Neuville was 0.1s off Tänak’s pace-setting effort.
It was a positive stage for Hyundai across the board, as Dani Sordo continued to apply pressure in the fight for the final podium place.
Sordo took another 0.3s out of Takamoto Katsuta on Montim, with finely-poised battle looks set to go to the wire with only 0.9s in it.
Running on used tires after blowing his full allocation of softs Saturday, it was only a matter of time until Pierre-Louis Loubet was caught and passed by Tänak for seventh.
He had fresh hards left in the boot but on the soft, sandy stages in northernmost Portugal around the Fafe region, they simply weren’t going to offer any grip.
That inevitable Tänak steamroller came marching past Loubet’s Ford Puma on Montim, the Hyundai going 14.1s faster to move into seventh.
Next on Tänak’s to-do list is catch Craig Breen, though with 25.4s to find and only three relatively short stages left, he may be hard pressed to grab sixth place before the rally ends.
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 5m34.3s
- Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +0.1s
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +0.5s
- Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +0.6s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +4.2s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +4.5s
- Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota) +6.6s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +7.2s
- Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +8.8s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +11.2s
Leading Positions after SS18
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) 3h25m18.5s
- Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +8.5s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +2m07.3s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +2m08.2s
- Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +2m32.00s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +4m19.9s
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +4m45.3s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet/Landais (M-Sport Ford) +4m47.1s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +7m31.8s
- Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai) +11m01.5s