Thierry Neuville has moved to the cusp of victory at Rally de Portugal by extending his lead to almost 40 seconds over Elfyn Evans at the end of Saturday’s action.

The Hyundai driver is eager to maximise his opportunity after seeing his major WRC title rivals drop out of contention in Portugal and looks set to seal the win after edging out his lead to 39.8s after SS15, Amarante 2, over M-Sport Ford’s Evans.

Dani Sordo continues to remain under threat from M-Sport Ford’s Teemu Suninen after running into a half-spin on the final stage of the second leg of action. Sordo’s small error has seen the Finnish driver close to within five seconds with five stages remaining.

Suninen’s fellow countryman Esapekka Lappi in the sole Toyota, after teammates Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala were forced out early on, is also in contention for the podium just over 11 seconds off of the Finnish M-Sport Ford driver.

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Mads Ostberg has dropped to a distant sixth place on his Citroen gravel debut but remains comfortably ahead of teammate Craig Breen in seventh to round out the remaining premier class challengers in an event with high attrition.

Citroen's Kris Meeke has been taken to hospital as a precaution after crashing heavily on SS12, while Hayden Paddon adn Sebastien Ogier also tumbled out of the event in crashes, plus Andreas Mikkelsen also saw his charge in Portugal ended by a mechanical issue.

Skoda’s Pontus Tidemand has taken over the lead in the WRC2 class by moving into eighth place overall after a trio of rivals – Gus Greensmith, Nil Solans and Pedro Heller – all dropped out on SS15.

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