Rally de Portugal - RESULTS

Ott Tanak completed victory on the Rally de Portugal after keeping his head on a dramatic final day of action, while his closest rival Kris Meeke fell by the wayside within sight of the finish line.

The Estonian took control of the event on SS3 after early leader Dani Sordo fell back with technical issues and proceeded to keep his rivals at arm’s length, even if he could never truly relax as his lead fluctuated around no more than 25secs at any stage.

Indeed, Tanak came into the final day with a slender 4.3secs lead over Toyota team-mate Kris Meeke after damper issues – which scuppered Jari-Matti Latvala’s challenge in the third Yaris – slowed him towards the end of leg two, but simply pulled clear when it mattered to dismiss any potential challenge from the Briton.

The Estonian’s second consecutive WRC win, he jumps to second in the standings and is now just two points shy of Ogier in the overall standings. However, he would have moved ahead had team-mate Meeke held station in second as expected.

However, Toyota’s hopes of a 1-2 were dashed right at the end when Meeke spun on the penultimate stage – putting him in Thierry Neuville’s sights – before clipping an object on the final test and losing a wheel altogether, forcing him to retire.

His drama elevated Neuville into second position to help him close the gap to Sebastien Ogier as well to ten points, the title defender settling for third on a hard-fought event that saw only the top three steer clear of major issues.

Indeed, despite being well down the order at one stage, the high attrition rate – which also accounted for Sebastien Loeb on day one and Esapekka Lappi on the final day after rolling – allowed M-Sport Ford to post lucrative fourth and fifth place results, Teemu Suninen ahead of Elfyn Evans.

Gus Greensmith, making his WRC debut this weekend in a third Ford, was classified as a somewhat unfortunate retirement after breaking his suspension on the jump coming into the ‘flying finish;’ the hobbled Fiesta unable to move in literal sight of the finish line. He’d run a solid seventh before a crash on the second day left him playing catch up anyway.

In WRC2, Kalle Rovanpera gave the new ‘EVO’ Skoda Fabia R5 victory on its debut with a comfortable class win en route to sixth overall, ahead of Jan Kopecky. The pair were involved in a fight with Ole Christian Veiby, only for a fire to halt the Volkswagen driver on day two.

 

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