Volkswagen number one driver Sebastien Ogier romped away on the repeat loop in Portugal on Saturday afternoon.
Ogier re-took P1 this morning in SS9 and went into the mid-day service in the Algarve Stadium just 2.4 seconds up on overnight leader, Mikko Hirvonen. However, Hirvonen was powerless to hang on this afternoon and with Ogier winning all three tests in his Polo R WRC, the Frenchman was able to stretch his advantage, gaining 7.4 seconds in SS11, 11 seconds in SS12 and 17.3 seconds in SS13. Ogier now goes into the overnight halt with a pretty commanding 38.1 second cushion.
“I'm happy. In the end I didn't push so hard, good management of tyres, that's really [been] the key,” Ogier said after Malhao 2.
“That was really a very good day for us,” Ogier added back in service. “The Polo was perfect again! A few sections of the route were still damp and slippery, but we were spot on with our tyre selection this time. However, I still tried not to drive too aggressively, in order to save the tyres as much as possible
“This rally represents a good opportunity for Julien [Ingrassia, my co-driver] and me to extend our lead in the World Championship, so we are not taking too many risks or going flat-out at any cost.
“I obviously want to win here in Portugal for the fourth time, but Mikko Hirvonen is very quick out there. The lead might look comfortable, but the same applies every time: to win it, you must first complete the rally,” he warned.
Hirvonen meanwhile struggled with tyre wear on the second pass, remarking that the tyres were 'completely gone' after SS12. He was still second quickest in SS11 and SS12 though, before having to settle for fifth in SS13.
“I did everything I could," Hirvonen remarked after SS12, "but by now, the tyres are completely slick on the rear and I could not match him [Ogier]. He is running away – I can't do anything about it. ”
Speaking after SS13, the M-Sport WRT man added: "I was a bit scared we were going to have a puncture [in there]. It's a bit slippery in places. I'm going to try to hold onto my second place now and save myself for the Power Stage tomorrow to see what I can do.”
Mads Ostberg completes the provisional podium, 48.6 seconds off Hirvonen and 20 seconds up on the Hyundai i20 WRC of Dani Sordo in fourth.
“I'm happy with the day, it's gone well,” said Ostberg. “I'm looking to hold on tomorrow, I have a new set of soft tyres for then.”
“The car was really good,” Sordo added, “we need to work a little bit with traction. But everything is okay. I'm not sure if the soft tyres are the right choice, I'm not sure what they look like but they must be terrible now.”
Behind, Ford privateer Henning Solberg and Volkswagen Motorsport II man, Andreas Mikkelsen are fifth and sixth, after Thierry Neuville lost time after hitting something in SS12. The Belgian picked up a puncture as a result and also damaged his Hyundai i20 WRC. He consequently lost over 2 minutes in SS12 and another 5 minutes in SS13: “I slightly hit something. I can drive but the wheel is moving. I have broken something...” he confirmed after SS12. Neuville drops to P9.
Of the rest, Martin Prokop is seventh, while Juho Hanninen lies eighth and WRC2 class leader, Nasser Al-Attiyah rounds out the top ten. Hanninen had a difficult afternoon, picking up a puncture in SS11 when he hit a bank and he also had driveshaft issues in SS13.
In WRC2, as mentioned, Al-Attiyah is back on top. Jari Ketomaa has slipped back, losing a large portion of his lead in SS11 when he had to stop and re-set his power steering. As for the JWRC/WRC3, Stephane Lefebvre now sits top of the class after Alastair Fisher hit problems in SS13.
As for retirements, Ott Tanak and Robert Kubica were the two big name exits. Kubica went out in SS9, when he slid off the road and into a ditch. He had rejoined under Rally 2. Tanak went out in SS10, when he crashed at roughly the same place as Jari-Matti Latvala did back in 2009. Tanak, however, stayed on the road and ended up blocking the test.
Latvala incidentally ended the day 17th having re-joined under Rally 2 today. Elfyn Evans also re-started and is now 27th. Kris Meeke was not able to take in Saturday's stages due to roll cage damage sustained in his off in SS7 on Friday.
Rally de Portugal now concludes on Sunday, with two stages on the bill, Loule and Sao Bras de Alportel. Loule will be run twice, as SS14 and SS16, the event ending Power Stage. SS14 is scheduled to start at 08.50 hours local time.
Rally de Portugal: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 3hours 03m 39.8s M
2. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 38.1s M
3. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 26.7s M
4. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +01m 46.7s M
5. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 29.9s
6. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +04m 44.8s M
7. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07m 21.5s M
8. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +07m 30.6s M
9. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +07m 31.4s M
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +09m 24.7s WRC2
11. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +09m 35.9s WRC2
12. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R5 +11m 33.6s WRC2
13. Karl Kruuda Ford Fiesta S2000 +11m 38.0s WRC2
14. Khalid Al-Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +13m 07.6s M
15. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC +13m 12.0s WRC2
16. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta RRC +14m 17.7s WRC2
17. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +15m 58.5s M
18. Robert Barrable Ford Fiesta R5 +16m 22.6s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC 3h 13m 04.5s WRC2
2. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 11.2s WRC2
3. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R5 +02m 08.9s WRC2
JWRC / WRC3 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Simone Campedelli Citroen DS3 R3T 3h 27m 56.8s WRC3
2. Martin Koci Citroen DS3 R3T +00m 51.7s WRC3
3. Christian Riedemann Citroen DS3 R3T +01m 21.2s WRC3
SS4. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M*
SS4. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Lost a wheel M*
SS5. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Rolled M*
SS7. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Crashed M
SS9. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M
SS10. Ott Tanak M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Crashed
* denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Saturday.
all times unofficial