Tänak loses Portugal lead with tire issue

The top three order moved around quite a bit, with Sordo now leading the rally


Dani Sordo is the new leader of Rally Portugal after M-Sport’s Ott Tänak ran into tire trouble on the first stage of Friday afternoon.

Tänak has led ever since the event’s second stage, holding Toyota driver Rovanperä to a three-second deficit after the morning loop.

But on Portugal’s first repeat stage, Lousã 2, Tänak leaked 50.1 seconds to Kalle Rovanperä with a front-right tire off the rim.

The M-Sport driver therefore slid from first to the back of the Rally1 pack in seventh in just one single stage.

It also means Hyundai occupies two places on the podium now with Dani Sordo leading – just 0.4s ahead of Rovanperä after outpacing him by one second on SS4 – and Thierry Neuville up to third, 14.2s behind his team-mate.

Dani Sordo

“I had a very good stage, but I think we are missing grip,” said Neuville.

“I was on the edge of some of the corners and I felt like we were not going so fast. Let’s see if we can find some performance because the time difference is big.”

There were no such concerns for Esapekka Lappi though who set a scorching pace to win the stage and overtake Elfyn Evans on the leaderboard.

“OK, good,” Lappi said. “I like this direction.”

But he remains behind Pierre-Louis Loubet who moved from sixth to fourth on this stage, also jumping Evans who remained tight-lipped on the setup issues that have compounded his road-cleaning handicap.

“There’s not too much to say,” Evans said. “It’s not working at the moment.”

Tänak is 27.1s behind Evans in seventh.

Words:Luke Barry