Sebastien Ogier ended today’s second leg of Rally de Portugal with a comfortable 34.8sec lead over Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
The Polo R drivers dominated this longest leg of the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Latvala won the opening two stages before Ogier claimed the remaining four tests.
Higher temperatures and rocky gravel roads in the hills above the Algarve made the going tough. Conditions were at their worst this afternoon when the morning stages were repeated and drivers had to manage their tyres on roads worn to the bedrock.
Ogier was still handicapped by the virus which has affected him for the past two weeks. “I started to feel a bit better this afternoon,” he said. “I think I saved my tyres better than the others. It was a good day but tomorrow has two long stages so it’s going to be tough as well.”
Ogier’s closest challenger yesterday was Dani Sordo but the Spaniard retired his Citroen DS3 on today’s opening stage. “I misunderstood a pace note. After a small crest the car slid wide onto the loose. At the end of the corner was a small tree and we hit it with the rear wheel which broke,” he said.
Latvala climbed to second, getting to grips with the Polo R for the first time this season. “It’s the first day this year when I have been smiling,” said the Finn, whose only problem was a slow puncture at the end of the last stage.
Mikko Hirvonen completes the podium places in a Citroen DS3, 1min 08.5sec behind Ogier. “It was so rough and so hot that the tyres were at their limit this afternoon. I don’t have any new tyres for either of tomorrow’s loops so that will slow me,” he said.