Tänak tire trouble hands Ogier Portugal lead

Eight-time world champion Ogier inherits lead after Saturday morning of madness

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Sébastien Ogier has taken the lead of Rally Portugal after a Saturday morning filled with incidents, including the rally-ending crash of his team-mate and erstwhile rally leader Kalle Rovanperä.

Rovanperä’s crash on Montim handed Ogier a slim lead over Ott Tänak, which he then lost to the Hyundai driver on Amarante.

But drama befell Tänak on the loop-ending Paredes test, suffering a slow rear-right puncture early in the stage that he believes cost him around “20 seconds”.

Tänak further explained his tire problems: “I was driving really slowly to not take it off the rim, so we could at least keep some pace and rhythm.”

That gave the lead back to Ogier, who has a 13.6s advantage over the 2019 world champion in second place.

Thierry Neuville has inherited third place thanks to suspension dramas for Takamoto Katsuta on Amarante. Damage to the right-rear corner of Katsuta’s Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 forced him to park up in an escape road and retire on the spot.

A possible push for victory now looks unlikely for Neuville, as the damage he’d done to his i20 N Rally1 earlier on Montim from nosing his i20 N Rally1 into a bank came into effect. Ripping the front splitter off affected grip and he lost double-digit seconds to Ogier on the following two stages.

Only 3.6s separate Neuville from his Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo in fourth, who in turn has been able to extend his advantage over M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux over the course of the Saturday morning loop.


Neuville damaged the front end of his i20 N Rally1 after clipping a bank on the inside of a corner in Montim

M-Sport’s team leader reclaimed 4.8s on Sordo in Parades but over the course of the Saturday morning loop, Fourmaux suffered a net time loss to the third Hyundai and is now 20.4s adrift. Elfyn Evans remains in seventh place, over a minute behind Fourmaux.

Grégoire Munster has dropped outside the top 10, losing six minutes due to a mysterious engine issue. He pulled over in the middle of Amarante to try and diagnose what was amiss, thinking his alternator was playing up: “When I checked the belt was still there, so I have no clue what it is,” he said afterwards.

Munster’s engine problem, which left him down on power, had miraculously cured itself in a “Harry Potter-worthy” manner in the following road section, only to happen again at the end of Paredes.

Gus Greensmith has now inherited the lead of WRC2 after the two championship leaders ran into trouble.

Oliver Solberg’s rally ended when he hit a bank and rolled only a few hundred meters further down the road from Rovanperä’s accident, then Yohan Rossel hit a rock and punctured his Citroën C3 Rally2’s front-right tire, which he stopped to change and lost two minutes.

Greensmith now has a 45s lead over Nikolay Gryazin, who isn’t registered to score points for his own drivers’ championship account but is for his DG Sport team.