Mikko Hirvonen has taken the lead on Rally de Portugal following the opening stage this afternoon.
Hirvonen completed the short test in Lisbon in his Ford Abu Dhabi WRT-run Fiesta RS WRC car, 300 kilometres north of the events main base in Faro, in 2 minutes 49.6 seconds, beating Citroen Total WRT man Sebastien Loeb by 1.3 seconds, while Petter Solberg was third, 0.8 seconds further back.
“It was great to see so many fans enjoying the action,” said Hirvonen. “The rally's day out in the capital allowed people, who would otherwise not see the event, to watch our cars in action. The stage was tricky because we didn't have the opportunity to warm up our tyres before the start, but it was fun to drive and I hope we put on a good show.
“Tomorrow the competition starts for real though with tough, long stages so I need to be fully focused from the very beginning.”
Sebastien Ogier meanwhile, who will be out to bounce back after his off on the final day in Mexico earlier this month, came in fourth, ahead of Hirvonen's team-mate and Crash.net
columnist Jari-Matti Latvala.
Munchi's man Federico Villagra completed the top six with F1 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, Matthew Wilson, Henning Solberg and Armindo Araujo in positions 7 through to 10, the latter incidentally is one of two drivers' debuting MINI's Super 2000-spec John Cooper Works car this weekend.
M-Sport Stobart Ford man Mads Ostberg had an unfortunate start to the event and lost the front right wheel on his Fiesta RS WRC car after hitting a concrete block. Although he could complete the stage, limping through on three-wheels, he lost a lot of time and was the slowest of the 70 competitors, 1 minute 52.1 seconds off the pace.
In the support categories, Anders Grondal has taken the early lead in the PWRC, while Yeray Lemes heads the new WRC Academy – the replacement for the JWRC.
The action now gets underway 'proper' on Friday, with around 130 competitive kilometres on the bill - and two loops of three identical stages.
SS2, the 22.99 kilometre-run through Santa Clara 1, begins at 09.05 hours local time [08.05 hours UK time].
Rally de Portugal: Overall standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):
1. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC 2mins 49.6secs
2. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 01.3secs
3. Petter Solberg
PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC +00mins 02.1secs
4. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 02.9secs
5. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 03.7secs
6. Federico Villagra
Munchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 03.9secs
7. Kimi Raikkonen
ICE1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC +00mins 05.1secs
8. Matthew Wilson
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 06.2secs
9. Henning Solberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 06.5secs
10. Armindo Araújo
Motorsport Italia/BAMP Mini John Cooper Works S2000 +00mins 08.0secs
11. Bernardo Sousa
Team Quinta do Lorde Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 09.0secs
12. Dennis Kuipers
FERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 09.8secs
13. Khalid Al-Qassimi
Team Abu Dhabi Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 10.5secs
15. Peter Van Merksteijn
Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRC +00mins 12.1secs
16. Anders Grondal
Subaru Impreza STi +00mins 13.2secs
34. Daniel Oliveira
Brazil WRT Mini John Cooper Works S2000 +00mins 21.8secs
70. Mads Ostberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 52.1secs
PWRC standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):
1. Anders Grondal
Subaru Impreza STi 3mins 02.8secs
2. Nicolas Fuchs
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 00.8secs
3. Patrik Flodin
Subaru Impreza STi +00mins 02.9secs
WRC Academy standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):
1. Yeray Lemes
Ford Fiesta R2 3mins 13.3secs
2. Craig Breen
Ford Fiesta R2 +00mins 00.7secs
3. Brendan Reeves
Ford Fiesta R2 +00mins 00.8secs
Pre-SS1 Ken Block
Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Crashed in shakedown
* denotes re-started under SupeRally.
all times unofficial