The opening 300 metres are on asphalt before the surface changes to compact gravel. The roads are narrow but smooth, and this is one of the quickest tests of the rally.
How the action unfolded:
A second consecutive stage win from Citroen’s Dani Sordo has moved him to within 2.4sec of Sebastien Ogier and the lead of Rally de Portugal.
Sordo was the last of the WRC crews to tackle the repeated Ourique, the final gravel stage of Friday’s leg, completing it 2sec quicker than Ogier, who he followed through.
“At the beginning Ogier was a little bit faster so after that we pushed more,” said the DS3 driver. “The stage felt nice to drive and I’m confident with the car – which is very important. The team has made the car better for me and it is really good.”
Ogier ended up fourth quickest in his Volkswagen Polo R, the Frenchman conceding that his choice of soft compound tyres for the rally’s opening four stages might not have been the best.
“Maybe it wasn’t perfectly right but I know I’m good at saving the tyres so that’s why I tried,” he said. “Maybe they will be perfect for the super special - we’ll see.”
Thierry Neuville was second quickest, despite ongoing issues with the set-up of his M-Sport Fiesta RS. “I haven’t made any changes yet and we have still a few things to do but I’m happy,” he said. “I’m pushing quite hard and the times are okay. There is still a bit of road cleaning.”
A revitalised Jari-Matti Latvala was third quickest, beating his Volkswagen team-mate Ogier by 0.2sec. “The feeling is honestly getting better and I enjoyed it,” said the Finn. “I know we can improve - especially with the suspension - and I’ve got some ideas for when we’re driving on the bedrock like on this stage. There is more to come with this car.”
Mikko Hirvonen however was still unhappy with suspension settings on his Citroen DS3 he felt were holding him back. The Finn was fifth quickest to remain fourth overall. “We left service this morning with springs that were too stiff and we’ve been stuck with that,” he explained.
“I really pushed hard in these last few stages but I can’t go faster. I’m on the limit, making small mistakes all the time. The set-up is wrong and it’s been a frustrating day. Lets hope we can get back on the pace tomorrow.”
Lying seventh after the previous stage, Volkswagen’s new team member Andreas Mikkelsen hit trouble early in the Ourique repeat that eventually cost him 2min 30seconds.
“We lost the power steering after one kilometre,” Mikkelsen explained at the finish control. “It’s strange because I didn’t hit anything. Just suddenly there was nothing. It’s not very easy like that!”
Crews are now heading to Lisbon for the final stage of the day, the 3.27km super special that gets underway at 1805hrs.