Rally de Portugal: Latvala ekes out lead with one to go

Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala remains on course to win Rally de Portugal, 10.3 seconds up on team-mate Sebastien Ogier with just the Power Stage to go
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala increased his lead slightly on Rally de Portugal on Sunday morning and will now go into the Power Stage with a 10.3 second cushion.

Latvala started the final leg with a 9.5s advantage and he saw it trimmed by 1.7s in SS14, Fafe 1, the first test of the day, with team-mate and closest rival, Sebastien Ogier setting the pace and maintaining the pressure.

Latvala, however, responded in SS15, the 32.35km Vieira do Minho test, going quickest and beating Ogier by 2.5 seconds.

“It [SS15] was a fantastic stage, I knew I could do it and I have good tyres for the next stage,” said Latvala. “Miikka [Anttila – my co-driver] was really useful, motivating me well.”

“A good stage - a clean drive but not perfect. I was not in a position to take too many risks,” added Ogier after the penultimate test.

Meanwhile, VW Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen now looks comfortable in third, 16.8s up on Kris Meeke after the Briton lost time with a broken rear anti-roll bar.

“We have a broken rear anti-roll bar. The car is really difficult to drive. The car has been fantastic this weekend though and we have to stay positive after the speed this weekend,” noted the Rally Argentina winner.

Further back, M-Sport's Ott Tanak remains a lonely fifth in the new Fiesta RS WRC, while Dani Sordo is sixth in his Hyundai, 5 seconds up on Mads Ostberg, who moved back in front of Hayden Paddon in Fafe 1. Paddon now drops to eighth ahead of former F1 driver Robert Kubica and Ford privateer Martin Prokop.

In WRC2, Ford Fiesta RRC pilot Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to lead (and is 11th overall), but Esapekka Lappi is now just 13.8s back in P2. Pontus Tidemand completes the provisional WRC2 podium.

“That [SS15] was not an easy stage. We were really careful all the way but that's what we needed to do,” explained Al-Attiyah, who conceded 41s to Lappi in that test.

“It is really good,” added Lappi. “It feels slippery and the end was really good grip but at the start it didn't feel so good. Maybe Nasser has backed-off.

"I think this is the position we want to keep. We have had some small issues but now we are here and we have to finish and take this result.”

Rally de Portugal now concludes with the Power Stage (SS16), a repeat run through the 11.15 km Fafe test, due to start at 11.08 hours local time.

2015 Rally de Portugal: Overall standings after Stage 15 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 3h 23m 50.1s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 10.3s M
3. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +0m 26.7s M
4. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 43.5s M
5. Ott Tanak M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 48.9s M
6. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +2m 21.8s M
= Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +2m 26.8s M
8. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +2m 41.5s M
9. Robert Kubica Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 27.5s
10. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7m 10.2s M


11. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +10m 41.2s WRC2
12. Esapekka Lappi Skoda Fabia R5 +10m 55.0s WRC2

WRC2 standings after Stage 15 (Top 3):

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC 3h 34m 31.3s WRC2
2. Esapekka Lappi Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 13.8s WRC2
3. Pontus Tidemand Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 32.0s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS2. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Out of time M*
SS4. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC Mechanical*
SS7. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta RS WRC Retired on road section on way back to service M*

SS8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Rolled M**
SS8. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Hit a rock M**
SS10. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta RS WRC Rolled M

M denotes Manufacturer entry
*denotes re-started on Saturday under Rally 2
**denotes re-started on Sunday under Rally 2

all times unofficial
by Rob Wilkins

Related Pictures

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Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #2, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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