by M.C. – photo: @HMSGOfficial | All WRC pilots affirm that Portugal is one of the countries in the world where the WRC is most intensely followed, and luckily for all of the passionate Portuguese fans, this last weekend they had a chance to enjoy the sport in all its glory. Against all odds, two of the favourite drivers, the Estonian Ott Tänak (Toyota) and the super champion Sebastian Ogier (Ford) were out of the fight early on in the competition. Both suffered different mishaps on Friday and had to bid goodbye to another triumph. Ogier tried to compete on Saturday towards the power stage final but he finished with no points in WRC Portugal.
Meanwhile, the Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), making the most of the circumstances grew increasingly strong and took five of the central stages on Saturday. On Sunday it became just a matter of managing his advantage. His victory gained him enough points to move to the lead of the general World Championship classification, ahead of Ogier.
But Neuville was not alone on the podium. The Hyundai driver was accompanied by Ogier M-Sport Ford’s team-mates, the Briton Evans and the Finn Suninen, who finished second and third respectively. Behind them, positions kept shifting due to a number of penalties applied after different incidents at the race. In the end, the Spaniard Dani Sordo (Hyundai) was fourth and Esapekka Lappi (Toyota) took fifth.
The WRC gets increasingly exciting as the apparent domination of living legend Ogier is contested by Hyundai’s Belgian driver.
Results of Rally Portugal:
- Thierry Neuville (Bel/Hyundai) 3h16’30”
- Elfyn Evans (UK/Ford) to 39″
- Teemu Suninen (Fin/Ford) to 1’01”
- Dani Sordo (Spa/Hyundai) to 1’07”
- Esapekka Lappi (Find/Toyota) to 1’13’’
Driver’s standings WRC:
- Thierry Neuville (Bel/Hyundai) 119 points
- Sébastien Ogier (Fra/Ford) 100 points
- Ott Tänak (Est/Toyota) 72 points
- Dani Sordo (Spa/Hyundai) 60 points
- Esapekka Lappi (Find/Toyota) 55 points