The stage runs along a mountainside. It is fast and flowing initially on a mid-to-narrow road with a hard bedrock surface, and the bedrock becomes even more apparent after eight kilometres. Both the surface and the width change frequently for the rest of the test. Some parts are narrow but retain the speed, adding to the difficulties. There are crests and many changes of rhythm on what is the roughest stage of the event.
How the action unfolded:
The scene was set for a thrilling duel between Dani Sordo and Sebastien Ogier on Saturday’s second leg of Rally de Portugal but in the event Sordo’s challenge ground to a halt 19km into the opening test.
Sordo began the stage trailing overnight leader Ogier by 4.4sec, and at the 17km split point he was 3.1sec quicker than the Frenchman.
Two kilometres later however Sordo went off, damaging the right-hand rear corner of the Citroën DS3. He parked it by the roadside shortly after.
Ogier completed the stage cleanly in his Polo R but despite the exit of his closest rival he arrived at the finish control looking agitated.
“That was difficult, not easy for anyone,” he said. “My lead is by no means strong because Jari is quite close and the car is not working perfectly.” Ogier left for the next stage without explaining what the problem was.
Latvala was the stage winner, with a time 1.1sec better than Ogier’s. Now second courtesy of Sordo’s exit, the Finn trailed his Volkswagen team-mate by 10.3sec in the overall standings. “We went wide a few times near the beginning but okay, we got through all clear and we had no big problems,” he said.
Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest, and happier with the set-up of his Citroen DS3 than he had been on day one. He lies third overall, 9.9sec behind Latvala.
Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville had been behind Hirvonen in fourth overnight, but the Belgian joined Sordo on the retirement list on SS6 after hitting a rock and breaking his car’s suspension 6km in.
This promoted Evgeny Novikov, also in a Fiesta RS, into fifth – albeit a distant 1m 32s behind Hirvonen.
After a difficult opening day in Portugal the Russian remained perplexed by his lack of pace. “The stage was okay, but like yesterday we’re trying to drive at the maximum but the times just aren’t there,” he said
Weather conditions were dry and bright for Saturday’s opener, making tyre choice more straightforward than on Friday. All the Volkswagen, Citroen and M-Sport cars left service with four hard compound tyres and carrying one spare.
Mads Ostberg and WRC-2 driver Robert Kubica both restarted Saturday’s competition after retiring on day one.
Kubica however had an uncomfortable ride though Santana da Serra when the specially adapted paddle-shift gearbox his Citroen DS3 RRC failed and he had to change gear with his injured right hand.
Kubica said: "I had to drive with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the gear lever. Because of the position of the gear lever that was very hard. The stage was very tight."
Elfyn Evans retired when his Ford Fiesta RRC developed a transmission problem. The Welshman had been second in the WRC-2 competition.