Volkswagen Motorsport's Sebastien Ogier will take a slender 4.4 second advantage into the second day of Rally de Portugal, the fourth round in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship.
Ogier took the lead in the very first stage this morning, but slipped to second in the next test when Mads Ostberg went quickest. The Frenchman, however, re-took top spot in SS3, when Ostberg rolled out.
Ogier then maintained his hold on P1 in SS4, despite having opted to run with more soft tyres than his rivals, and following SS5 this evening, the short 3.27 kilometre Lisboa super special, he headed back to the Algarve Stadium for the overnight halt having added another 2 seconds to his lead.
“It was a good day for us, even though our tyre selection was not absolutely spot on," Ogier conceded. "The soft tyres were only of benefit on this morning's opening stage, when it was slippery. The rest of the stages, particularly the second stage, were brutal for the car.
"Physically, I still don't feel one hundred per cent fit. Out on the stages I can, as far as possible, block it out. Now at the end of the day, however, I am noticing that I am not my usual self physically.”
Dani Sordo meanwhile heads the chasing pack and he enjoyed a good day at the wheel of his Citroen DS3 WRC. Indeed, after setting the pace in qualifying, the Spaniard maintained that momentum and won two stages to emerge as Ogier's biggest threat: “I am very happy,” said the Spaniard, “we were fighting with five or six people. We're in second place now which is something I couldn't even hope for today.”
Jari-Matti Latvala is next up and lies third, 7 seconds off Sordo and 11.4 seconds off his VW team-mate.
“We made a cautious start to the morning and opted for a mixture of hard and soft tyres to start with," said the Finn. "We switched to all hard tyres from the second stage on. I felt happier the second time we took on the morning's two stages.
"We are happy with third place and our goal is to defend our position in the top three. The competition and the stages will both be even more testing from tomorrow onwards. However, I have a few ideas as to how we can improve the car's chassis set-up for tomorrow.”
Behind, Mikko Hirvonen comes in fourth, having lost time after setting his car up too stiff. The Finn set the top time in the SS5, but is now 16.2 seconds off P1 – and over 10 seconds off Sordo in the sister works DS3: “We had the wrong springs,” said the Finn, “we really had to fight today and push, but we'll see what we can do tomorrow now.”