Portugal debrief: part 2

In the second part of our lookback at Vodafone Rally de Portugal, we reflect on another disappointing weekend for a WRC star and breathe a sigh of relief following a monster accident.

Turning Point
A tight call this one. Was it Ott Tänak’s exit a handful of kilometres into Friday’s first stage when he hit rocks and damaged his Yaris’ engine? Or what about Sébastien Ogier’s departure three tests later when his wounded Ford Fiesta slithered into trees?

We’re going for the Frenchman’s retirement, for the impact it could have on this season’s drivers’ championship.

Ogier began the rally with a 10-point lead over Thierry Neuville. When he ended Friday morning in fourth, only 7.3sec off the lead after opening the sandy stages, the wrc.com desk believed the winner’s trophy had his name written on it.

A tiny error when Ogier cut a corner, failing to spot a tree stump poking up on the inside, broke a steering arm and he was off the road at the next corner. His advantage became a 19-point deficit to Neuville.

Surprise of the Rally 
Friday. One of the most crazy WRC days we can recall for a long time. Carnage, chaos - call it what you like, but in terms of excitement it was mega. More please!

A disappointing weekend for Jari-Matti Latvala

One to Forget
The saying goes that bad things come in threes – and that seems the case for Toyota Gazoo’s Jari-Matti Latvala. After slamming his Yaris into a tree in Corsica and retiring with broken suspension in Argentina, the omens were not good for Portugal.

Sure enough, the Finn was sidelined midway through the opening loop with broken front suspension. Although he returned to win three stages, the frustrated Finn is in a trough and desperate for a slice of luck.

You’ll Never Believe It
We’ve seen the images and watched the video – and we still don’t understand how Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle walked away from Saturday’s crash in the Amarante stage (below).

They did and the WRC family collectively gave thanks for the strength of their Citroën C3 and the improved safety measures introduced alongside the new-era World Rally Cars in 2017. Just a couple of years ago they might not have been so lucky…

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