Mads Ostberg was next up for the Adapta WRT in his Fiesta RS WRC, maintaining a run that has seen him score points in every single event this year. Indeed he has now finished in the points in all of his last ten WRC events.
“I am very pleased with the result,” Ostberg commented, “and with how we have got quicker and quicker. Unfortunately I didn't have the prep I wanted, but the learning curve was good and we made some good steps.”
Chris Atkinson took fifth to begin his relationship with the WRC MINI Team Portugal outfit in style. The Aussie opted to take it cautiously on his debut run with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car and his approach paid off.
“It is awesome to get this result,” said Atkinson. “A big thanks to the team. The MINI has been fantastic. It has been a tough rally and the conditions have been tough too. But we stuck to our strategy and it worked. We now have a good base and can start moving forward [in the coming events]. It is early days - but this is a great result.”
Further back Volkswagen Motorsport's Sebastien Ogier
and Andreas Mikkelsen came in sixth and seventh in their Skoda Fabia S2000 cars. Sixth was Ogier and VW's best result of the season, and for the team to achieve it at their home event made it all the sweeter. Mikkelsen also gave the team another reason to cheer by setting the third best time in the Power Stage.
Nasser Al-Attiyah took eighth for the Qatar WRT, with Prodrive WRC Team MINI pilot Dani Sordo taking advantage of the Rally 2 rules to re-start today and come home in ninth. He had been running as high as third on Saturday, but lost out in Panzerplatte - first with a puncture and then on the repeat-run through he hit a hickelstein. Mathieu Arzeno took the final point.
Of the rest, Solberg and Neuville finished in 11th and 12th, while Daniel Oliveria was the only other manufacturer entry to make it to the end, down in 23rd position in his Brazil WRT-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
In the support categories, Michal Kosciuszko took the PWRC win - and 14th place overall. Kosciuszko finished 2 minutes up on Benito Guerra, while Marcos Ligato was third, 8 minutes further back.
In the WRC Academy, which finished at the end of day two, Elfyn Evans claimed his third successive victory to extend his lead at the head of the championship. Jose Suarez was second, 1 minute 9.9 seconds back, with John MacCrone, who led early on, snatching the final place on the podium.
In terms of retirements, Evgeny Novikov
had an event to forget, going out in the very first stage in his M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC. Although he re-started on day two, he was forced out for good after SS13 due to a mechanical problem.