for Rally de Portugal shakedown results
Hyundai's Thierry Neuville was quickest on Thursday morning in the shakedown for Rally de Portugal.
Neuville, who has been demoted to Hyundai's second team for this event and who crashed during pre-event testing last week, opted for four passes through the 4.61km Paredes test, posting the best time on his third run, when he completed it in 3 minutes 11.3 seconds. That left him 0.3secs up on team-mate Dani Sordo and 0.4secs up on DMACK WRT man Ott Tanak.
“We have had a few tough rallies recently after our strong start to the season in Monte-Carlo,” Neuville said prior
to the event. “We are keeping positive, though, and our expectations for Rally Portugal are high.
“It's still quite a new rally for everyone but we gathered a lot of experience last year, particularly in terms of tyre choice and understanding the roughness of stages on the second pass.
“We need to focus on getting a good start and quickly finding a rhythm. If the weather is good, then our road position might give us an advantage. It's amazing to see so many supporters in Portugal; I'm looking forward to their support as we aim for a competitive and trouble-free weekend.”
Behind, Kris Meeke was fourth in his Citroen DS 3 WRC - ahead of his first competitive outing since Sweden, while Volkswagen duo Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen were joint fifth quickest, 0.2secs slower.
“Generally speaking, I found my rhythm quickly and have a good feeling for the car. Despite this, I made the odd little mistake here and there, and none of the three runs were perfect,” Latvala admitted.
“When the rally gets underway, I will be constantly reminding myself to drive cleanly and stick to the line, in order to change that. There was an awful lot of grip, as the route was damp. The grip was perfect here and there, but it was very slippery in other places.”
Rally Argentina winner Hayden Paddon and Championship leader Sebastien Ogier were next up, in seventh and eighth, with Stephane Lefebvre and Kevin Abbring rounding out the top ten from the M-Sport Ford's of Mads Ostberg and Eric Camilli.
“The shakedown ran really smoothly,” said Ogier. “As first onto the route, I really wanted to get a feeling for the conditions we will face over the coming days. However, the route was slightly damp, which means the shakedown was not so significant in that regard.
“On the whole, however, I am very happy. The Polo feels good. As far as we are concerned, the rally can start now. Julien [Ingrassia – my co-driver] and I are well-prepared. We would love to see a lot of fans supporting us out on the stages.”
Rally de Portugal now begins later today with SS1, the short 3.36 km Lousada super special stage, kicking things off at 19.01 hours local time.
The action then starts proper on Friday, with eight stages on the bill and a total competitive distance of 132.04 kilometres.